If you conjure up an image of a classic wine estate in Chablis, with traditional architecture, manicured gardens, conical topiary with the precision of a diagram to solve in geometry and premier cru and grand cru wines near the top of the class, Ch??teau of Long-Depaquit, of Maison Albert Bichot, might fill the bill.
In addition to fine facilities, Long-Depaquit has impressive vineyards with some 160 acres that include three grands crus and six premieres crus.?? During a recent tasting at the chateau, recent vintages showed fine style and consistency, with their best-known grand cru, La Moutonne, 2005, getting our top marks.?? It had classic stone fruit nose, with hints of oak, minerals, and pure Chardonnay.?? It was balanced on the palate, with a soft finish; definitely mature and ready to drink (17.5 points on the UC Davis 20-point scale). We ranked the 06 Les Clos a close second (17/20) and the Vaudesirs third of the grand cru wines (16.5/20).
The wines are produced in a modern winery inside the classic Chateau Long-Depaquit compound with offices, winery, cellars, tasting room and manicured grounds, including topiary.?? The winery uses natural yeasts in its fermentation process and goes light on the oak aging.?? The Chablis is 100 percent stainless steel fermented.?? The premier cru and grand cru wines are partially fermented in oak (up to 35 percent for the Grand Cru Les Clos).?? The wines go through malolactic fermentation in December and January.?? The barrels are on a five-year rotation but are acquired used from the larger Bichot operation, so the oak bouquet is usually subtle.?? The goal is to have wines that display clean Chardonnay, the minerality of the vineyards and a house style, which we liked.?? Albert Bichot can be added to any list of consistent producers of quality wines from Chablis worth seeking out.
Albert Bichot releases the Chablis about nine months after bottling, the premier cru after one to two years and the grand crus after two to three years of bottle age.?? The wines we tasted from 2005, 2006 and 2008 had a house style in the nose, with clean Chardonnay character, a touch of stone fruit and citrus, with hints of oak.?? They held back the 2007 because they felt it was too acidic to taste at the time with the other vintages.??
Modern winery; bladder press in background
Our tasting notes, in order of tasting:
Chablis, Domaine Long Depaquit, 2008 — Pale straw; clean Chardonnay fruit; crisp; tight; good fruit on the palate; clean, fresh; no oak. 15.5-16.
Chablis 1er Cru Les Beugnons, Domaine Long Depaquit, 2008. No oak.?? Dark mid-gold; complex nose; aged sur lies; some minerality; tight, but good viscosity and structure. Long finish. 16-16.5.
Chablis 1er Cru Les?? Vaillons, Domaine Long Depaquit, 2008. ??Mid-gold; peaches, clean Chardonnay nose; aged sur lies, balanced; round, soft, lower acids; 10 percent wood barrels.?? 16.
Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaucopins, 2008, Domaine Long Depaquit. Mid gold; citric; light oak (15 percent), balanced, rich, ripe tasty finish.?? 16.5-17.
Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, 2006, Domaine Long Depaquit.?? Mid-dark gold, good fruit, anise nose; mineral; balanced, oak, soft, good fruity and finish. Light oak (35 percent). 17.
Chablis Grand Cru Les Vaudesirs, 2006, Domaine Long Depaquit.?? Green, gold, citric nose, light oak (25 percent oak aged); balanced, good fruit; a little short. 16.5 ??? 17.
Chablis Grand Cru La Moutonne, Domaine Long Depaquit, 2005. Green gold, mid-dark, citric; peachy, oak; stone fruit; round, soft, right, long finish. 17-17.5.?? Our favorite of the tasting, from a small plot between Vaudesirs and Las Preuses.