A ‘family secret’ is revealed in this Chardonnay

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Family secret: Albert Bichot, with vineyards in four areas of Burgundy, France, produced in 2009 his first vintage of Bourgogne Blanc "Secret de Famille," which has been a successful project. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

It can be extremely tedious and time consuming to thoroughly understand the wines of Burgundy. There are a number of negociants, whose profession is to purchase grapes from quality growers and produce wine under their own labels. Some supplement this fruit with grapes from their own vineyards. In terms of generic white Burgundy, known as Bourgogne Blanc, there can be an unlimited number of choices that are within the budget for most consumers. In warm and generous vintages, such as 2009, the quality of Burgundy whites and reds, even in the Bourgogne Blanc category, can be surprisingly good. This vintage provided a fat and opulent style of wine that may be reminiscent of something from California’s North Coast.

The Bichot family has had its origins in Burgundy since 1350, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that they professed an interest in producing wine. The ancestry of the family is now in its sixth generation and has been passed down from father to son. Alberic Bichot now directs the business with holdings of vineyards in four recognized areas of Burgundy, but he also has a keen sense of where he can purchase quality fruit for his other bottlings. In 2009, he produced his first vintage of Bourgogne Blanc, “Secret de Famille,” which by all accounts has been a very successful project.

The 2009 Secret de Famille Chardonnay comes from the rugged slopes near the Cote de Nuit in Burgundy. Within this sub-region, fruit is sourced from vineyards in 19 of the surrounding villages. The soils from these vineyards are composed of limestone, rock and clay which all contribute to a unique sense of place in the wine. This wine displays a pale to medium yellow color with nutty aromas that lead into a silky mid-palate. There are juicy bright Bosc pear, ripe apple compote and fig elements that are all nicely compacted into this wine. This is a balanced, versatile and refreshing Chardonnay without any oaky characteristics. You will never fatigue in your interest of Chardonnays in this style.

Suggested Retail: $19.99

W. Peter Hoyne has been a wine journalist for over 20 years, covering stories of national and international significance. While his professional relationships in the wine industry have allowed him to share a unique perspective of wine, he is also intrigued by the culinary aspect and harmony that exist between wine and food. As a wine advocate, he is committed to consumer education and is focused on upcoming trends and American wine-buying habits.