Happy Valentine's Day to those who celebrate! Amateur night if you ask me. Real couples with 3 kids, use this time to put the kids to bed a little early and maybe watch 3/4 of a movie.
Anyway, today's producer is one I discovered years ago. Truth be told, I wasn't a fan back in the day. 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 $50. 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 with 2019 quite easily his greatest to date, at least score wise. Still, prices are pretty good and the quality is through the roof. Every year these guys get better, take hold now!!
The first thing to strike the eye, are the vintages. No, you haven't stepped foot in a time machine. Bitouzet-Prieur waits 2 vintages to release his wines. To be honest, I don't know why they do this, but I always like seeing what they have to offer and they never disappoint.
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 winefrom 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.
Whites2019 Bitouzet-Prieur Puligny Montrachet “Les Levrons” Newsletter Price: $119.99Bitouzet 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.
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BH 89-91: An even more floral blend is composed by notes of mostly essence of pear and apple. The finer and sleeker but not richer middle weight flavors possess a beguiling texture that carries over to the citrusy, clean and bone-dry finale. This stylish effort is very Puligny in character and well-worth checking out.2019 Bitouzet-Prieur Meursault Les CorbinsNewsletter Price: $82.99This 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.
BH 88-91: This is also firmly reduced though there is again very goodfreshness and vibrancy to the plump and attractively textured medium-bodied flavors that are generously proportioned while offering gooddepth and persistence on the very dry but not really austere finale.2019 Bitouzet-Prieur Meursault Clos du CrominNewsletter Price: $89.99Again, 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 winewith a long finish and a hint of pear skin to the fruit
BH 89-91: Pretty, ripe and fresh aromas include those of hazelnut, acacia and various white orchard fruit scents. There is both good cut and richness to the utterly delicious middle weight flavors that are at once succulent but fine, all wrapped in a citrusy, clean and markedly dry finale. Lovely and worth considering.2019 Bitouzet-Prieur Meursault SantenotsNewsletter Price: $129.99This 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.
BH 89-92: Gentle wood influence is present on the spicy aromas of pear compote that is trimmed in pretty floral wisps. The exceptionally rich, delicious and caressing medium weight flavors possess goodmid-palate fat while the citrus-tinged finale displays good length where the wood telegraphed by the nose resurfaces. This is more refined than the typical example of Santenots blanc.2019 Bitouzet-Prieur Meursault Charmes 1er CruNewsletter Price: $139.99This 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.BH 91-93: A more complex nose grudgingly reveals notes of petrol, acacia blossom, freshly sliced apple and plenty of citrus influence. There is excellent intensity and cut to the appealingly rich and textured flavors that possess the same fine depth as the nose. This is very good and worth a look.
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. Two barrels are reserved for the US market; magnums are always drawn for our use and double magnums are also prepared on occasion. 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.BH 91-94: Once again there is a plethora of floral influences to the lemon-lime, mineral reduction and passion fruit scents. The intense, overtly stony and penetrating middle weight flavors display first rate persistence on the very firm finale. This is already lovely and if it develops better depth with time in bottle it could well achieve the upper end of my projected range. In sum, this is a classic Perrières.
2019 Bitouzet-Prieur Meursault Perrieres 1er Cru
Newsletter Price: $179.99
2019 Bitouzet-Prieur Volnay Pitures 1er CruNewsletter Price: $104.99BH 90-93: A background touch of toasted wood combines with notes of the cool essence of red berries, earth and pretty floral nuances. The delicious and intense bigger-bodied flavors also possess evident minerality and focused power that seems to build from the mid-palate to the impressively lengthy finale where the only reproach is a touch of warmth. This is a big wine that should also age effortlessly for at least a decade and 15+ years would not be especially surprising.
2019 Bitouzet-Prieur Volnay Les Aussy 1er CruNewsletter Price: $99.99BH 90-92: Moderate wood sets off fresh, ripe and spicy aromas of red currant, violet and a whisper of rose petal. The sleek, detailed and pure middle weight flavors possess very good energy and a subtle minerality that becomes progressively more prominent as the lingering finish sits on the palate. This is lovely and understated.
2019 Bitouzet-Prieur Volnay Les Mitans 1er CruNewsletter Price: $99.99BH 90-93: A mentholated top note can be found on the equally sleek and even more detailed medium weight flavors where the texture is finer still, all wrapped in a lilting, delicious and well-balanced finale. This is pretty much textbook Mitans.2019 Bitouzet-Prieur Volnay Taillepieds 1er CruNewsletter Price: $104.99BH 91-93: Here too there is a mentholated top note on the more deeply pitched aromas of plum, black raspberry and subtle tea and floral wisps. As is always the case, there is more size, weight and power to the intensely mineral-driven flavors that possess a velvety mid-palate that contrasts with the dusty, youthfully austere and even more complex and persistent finale. This is a riper Taillepieds but one with outstanding development potential.2019 Bitouzet-Prieur Volnay Clos des Chenes 1er CruNewsletter Price: $109.99BH 91-94: Once again there is a touch of menthol present on the brooding and restrained aromas of decidedly earthy red and black currant scents that exhibit background hints of spice and violet. The dense, palate coating and sappy broad-shouldered flavors culminate in a hugely long finish that is once powerful and serious but not at all rustic. With that said, it is fair to observe that they don't possess the same refinement as the Caillerets, Mitans and Taillepieds. As is typically the case with a classic Clos des Chênes, this is going to need extended patience if you wish to see to experience it at its peak.2019 Bitouzet-Prieur Volnay Caillerets 1er CruNewsletter Price: $149.99BH 91-94: Relatively pungent aromas of menthol and reduction precede dense, caressing and equally refined medium weight flavors that also flash an abundance of minerality on the strikingly long and complex finale. The inherent class of a fine Caillerets is on display and this too should age gracefully for a decade plus. Excellent.