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2015 Bitouzet-Prieur

Today's producer is one I discovered years ago. Truth be told, I wasn't a fan. I found the wines to be simplistic and worthy of their very low price point––could you believe it! Back in the day Volnay 1er Cru was $65.  It would be cliche to quote Dylan––"for the times they are a changing"––or make a reference to Rodney Dangerfield but it is truly amazing how much these wines have progressed and in 2015, we are seeing the best yet!  

Producer Information: Vincent Bitouzet’s ancestral roots in Burgundy cover at least the last two centuries. His great-great grandfather, M. Gillotte, arrived in Auxey Duresses in 1802 and was mayor of that village. In 1804, the Bitouzet line settled in Volnay. The Bitouzets were one of the first of the family domaines in this region to bottle their wines. Vincent’s grandfather had already garnered medals for his winemaking talents in 1860. Vincent’s wife, Annie Prieur, has equally distinguished antecedents. Her family (both Prieurs and Perronnets) was long established in Meursault and Ladoix. The resulting “merger” of the Bitouzet and Prieur family holdings has created a domaine of distinction and breadth. Francois Bitouzet, the only son of Vincent and Annie, is now working hand-in-hand with his parents as he maintains the deep Burgundian roots of his ancestors.

The domaine consists of 12 hectares, approximately 4 hectares planted to Chardonnay and the remaining 8 hectares to Pinot Noir. In Meursault, the Bitouzets have holdings on the village level in “Les Corbins” and “Clos du Cromin”; and in the 1er Cru lieu-dits of: “Charmes”, “Perrieres” and “Santenots”. In addition, the Bitouzet holdings extend into Puligny where they produce wine from the “Les Levrons” site. In Volnay, the vineyards are spread out amongst the following sites: for the village wine there are about 2 hectares in the neighboring vineyards of “Aussy” and “Ez Echards”; then, there is a breathtaking assortment of 1er Crus which include: “Les Aussy”, “Taillepieds”, “Clos des Chenes”, “Pitures”, and “Caillerets” plus the most recent addition to the lineup, “Mitans”, the production of which is reserved exclusively for distribution in the USA. In addition, there is a 1.25 hectare parcel in Beaune 1er Cru “Cent Vignes”. The Bitouzet-Prieur domaine also produces lovely versions of a trio of basic Burgundies: Bourgogne Blanc, Bourgogne Rouge and Bourgogne Passetoutgrains.

Vincent and Francois Bitouzet rigorously tend their vineyards, practicing organic viticulture that includes practices such as “sexual confusion” to reduce insect infestations, the use of organic compost when necessary, no herbicides or pesticides and severe limitations on the use of copper sulfate. Harvest is done manually. Classic Burgundian vinification is practiced at this traditional domaine. Only indigenous yeasts are used. The whites are fermented and aged in barrel. There is extensive lees contact to develop richness and complexity. Usually not more than 20% of the cuvée will be exposed to new oak. The whites are normally bottled between 15 and 18 months after harvest. For the reds there is a brief cold maceration, the grapes are completely destemmed, and there is a cuvaison of approximately 2 weeks. Bitouzet effects a “pigeage” twice a day and seeks to maximize the temperature during fermentation at 35 degrees Celsius. However, the “pigeage” is done less often if the character of the vintage indicates that a lighter hand will produce more well-balanced wines. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrel. The reds are bottled between 20 and 24 months after harvest. Bitouzet’s wines (both red and white) are particularly age-worthy. 

 

 2015 Bitouzet Prieur Bourgogne Blanc
Newsletter Price: $26.99
The parcel for this cuvée is the lieu-dit in Meursault known as “Les Herbeaux”, in the northern quadrant of Meursault just underneath the 1er Cru “Les Malpoiriers”. Bitouzet exploits 0.71 hectares and the vines were planted in 1953 with a section recently replanted in 2010 which is not yet in production.

2015 Bitouzet Prieur Puligny Montrachet Les Levrons
Newsletter Price: $94.99
Bitouzet has a splendid little parcel on the northern tier of Puligny situated just beneath the fine 1er Cru “Les Referts”; this little gem is quite fine, direct in its approach, firmly mineral, with great length and persistence on the palate; a classic Puligny. Their holdings extend over 0.60 hectare: half of the surface is in vines planted in 1955; the other half was replanted in 2000.

2015 Bitouzet Prieur Meursault Les Corbins
Newsletter Price: $67.99
This vineyard is located north of the village of Meursault on the way to Volnay; surprisingly round, with an enchanting mix of spice and mint to the nose and on the palate; excellent weight to this village wine with the classic roundness and buttery texture of this great appellation. The Bitouzet family owns 1.5 hectares of “Les Corbins” which sits just underneath the 1er Cru “Les Plures”. The vines were planted in a trio of years: 1974, 1978, 1987. The soil is a particularly deep and rocky clay-limestone mix. 

2015 Bitouzet Prieur Meursault Clos du Cromin
Newsletter Price: $74.99
Again, the Bitouzet holdings in village Meursault sit in the northern section of the village of Meursault but, in this instance, higher on the slope than the neighboring “Les Corbins”. Their parcel is 0.37 hectare with vines planted in 1951. The soil has a high natural acidity, harvest usually occurs later than in “Les Corbins”. The resulting wine has excellent penetration on the palate and is normally dominated by its firm minerality which brings more rigor and complexity than the “Corbins”. It needs time but develops into a round, well-balanced wine with a long finish and a hint of pear skin to the fruit. 

2015 Bitouzet Prieur Meursault 1er Cru Santenots
Newsletter Price: $104.99
This is a big, brawny wine that is sadly extremely limited in availability. The Bitouzets own 0.2 hectare and the vines were planted in 1971. Their parcel is in the best section of the lieu-dit, known as “Les Santenots-Blancs” which is on the border with Volnay. It is pale gold in color, very round with loads of material; a glorious expression of acacia honey to the nose and palate; were it to be planted to pinot noir it would be called “Volnay Santenots”! Limited and rare: between 120 and 300 bottles come to the US annually

2015 Bitouzet Prieur Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes
Newsletter Price: $112.99
This cuvée is one of the gems of the domaine, a complete expression of this vineyard’s special character as Bitouzet’s holdings fall within two separate sites: one from the high part (“du Haut”) and another from the lower section (“du Bas”). The two parcels are vinified separately and then blended together before bottling to create the whole. The lower section provides a stony minerality and an almost tannic expression; the upper section yields explosive aromatics as well as a round, buttery mouthfeel. The two parcels make up a total of 0.55 hectare; the vines were planted in 1944 and another section in 1987. The soil is a pebbly limestone with sand and loam consistency. 

2015 Bitouzet Prieur Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrieres
Newsletter Price: $119.99
Perhaps the consistently greatest white wine from the Bitouzet-Prieur domaine, the “Perrieres” is firmly mineral, quite spicy and more elegant than the Charmes; a great wine of class and breed with remarkable density and a wine of extraordinary potential.  The Bitouzets own 0.28 hectares of vines here in the part of the vineyard known as “Perrieres Dessous” and their vines were planted in 1983.

2015 Bitouzet Prieur Beaune 1er Cru Cent Vignes
Newsletter Price: $59.99
The sole red offering from this domaine outside of Volnay is the Beaune 1er Cru “Cents Vignes” which is also perhaps the most charming red wine of the estate. It shows this appellation’s typical soft tannins and gracious red cherry fruit; supple, silky, and fine with excellent balance and beautifully ripe fruit. The Bitouzets own 1.26 hectares of vines here which were planted in 1987 and 1988.

2015 Bitouzet Prieur Volnay 1er Cru Les Aussy
Newsletter Price: $67.99
This 1er Cru is situated just beneath the prestigious “Champans” lieu-dit. The Bitouzets own 0.51 hectare. The majority of the vines were planted in 1956 with a supplemental planting being done in 1998. This vineyard yields a wine that is strongly spicy with background notes of earth and truffle; its firm tannic backbone supports excellent round, generous, red berry fruit.

2015 Bitouzet Prieur Volnay 1er Cru Les Mitans
Newsletter Price: $79.99
The 2005 vintage was the first release of this wine from newly accessed vineyards. “Mitans” is situated towards the center of the appellation and is a classic Volnay with breed and finesse supported by a sturdy backbone; in tribute to our long and close relationship, the Bitouzets have allotted the entire production (three barrels) to us for the US market. The holdings are only 0.13 hectare in size, the vines were planted in 1991 in the “En l’Ormeau” section of “Mitans”.

2015 Bitouzet Prieur Volnay 1er Cru Les Pitures
Newsletter Price: $87.99
The “Pitures” vineyard is on the the Pommard side of Volnay and produces a “sauvage” wine with a sensual rusticity. This is the most “animal” of the Bitouzet reds, quite masculine and firm with profound tannins and great concentration; its deep color announces a wine of excellent density. Bitouzet owns a one-half hectare parcel in “Pitures” which is immediately adjacent to the “Clos des Ducs”. The vines were planted at varying dates with the overwhelming majority of that work being done in 1959, 1969 and 1974

2015 Bitouzet Prieur Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds
Newsletter Price: $89.99
This cuvée is one of the most complete representations of the complexity that can be found in the finest Volnays as it is from one of the great vineyards of that village. It has deep color, lots of material and is an aggressive wine with loads of character marked by minerality and notes of the “soubois”. Although tt can be austere in its youth, this wine has proven its worth over and over in countless vintages: a real “keeper”. The Bitouzet family owns 0.72 hectare and the vines were planted in 1971, 1983 and 1997.

2015 Bitouzet Prieur Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chenes
Newsletter Price: $99.99
The “Clos des Chenes”, again from one of the renowned 1er Cru sites in Volnay, is a touch fruitier and more subtle than the Taillepieds with slightly less stout tannins. It is a generous and quite exceptional wine that always reflects exceptional balance. The Bitouzet parcel is 0.54 hectare and the vines were planted in 1976, 1982 and 1986.

2015 Bitouzet Prieur Volnay 1er Cru Les Caillerets
Newsletter Price: $104.99
We consider this cuvée to be the consistently most outstanding red wine of this estate. It has grace and power combined, round on the palate, with fine, long tannins, excellent density; a brooding beauty with depth and character galore but sadly of extremely limited availability. The Bitouzets own a mere 0.15 hectare of Caillerets. The vines were planted in 1981. 

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