Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur

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A committed classicist, Vincent Bitouzet has provided us with over thirty-years worth of structured, demanding, age-worthy, satisfying wines, both red and white, from the heart of the Cote de Beaune. Based in Volnay and blessed with extensive holdings in Meursault as well, this domaine is a tried and true standard bearer for all that is fundamentally good and sound in Burgundy: conscientious and sensitive work in the vineyards, respect above all for the specific character of each lieu-dit, patience and attention to detail in the cellar, and a commitment to producing wines of depth and, of critical importance, longevity. To truly understand great white and red burgundy, one must wait for these grand expressions of terroir to mature to reveal their splendor and spectacular nuance.

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. We have been importing the wines of this very special domaine with great pride and satisfaction since the 1976 vintage.

Bitouzet-Bourgogne Bourgogne Blanc: 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.
Bitouzet-Merusault-Corbins Meursault Les Corbins: 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. Two barrels per year are reserved for the USA (approximately 600 bottles) and we usually put up an additional lot of half bottles.
Bitouzet-Merusault-Clos-du-Cromin-2002 Meursault “Clos du Cromin: 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. Two barrels are dedicated to the US market (600 bottles) per annum.
Bitouzet-Meursault-Santenots Meursault 1er Cru Santenots: 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.
bitouzet-meursault-charmes Meursault 1er Cru Charmes: 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. Two barrels are reserved for the US market and, at our request, magnums and occasionally double magnums are prepared.
BITOUZET-Meursault-Perrieres Meursault 1er Cru Perrieres: 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.
Bitouzet-Puligny-Montrachet-Levrons Puligny Montrachet Les Levrons: 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.
bitouzet-passetoutgrain Bourgogne Passetoutgrain: The Bitouzets frequently sell this wine off to negociants but, from time-to-time, we have the opportunity to purchase a couple of barrels. This mix of gamay and pinot noir is sourced from vines within Volnay that were planted in 1953 and 1974.
Bitouzet-Bourgogne-(2) Bourgogne Rouge: This 1.2 hectare parcel is from the lieu-dit “Petits Pres” which sits immediately beneath the village appellation “Volnay Les Pasquieres”. The vines were planted in three separate tranches: 1963, 1969 and 1970.
bitouzet-Volnay Volnay: In their home village, the Bitouzets own 2.2 hectares of vines at the village level. The vines, planted at various stages (1961, 1987, 2003) are principally found in the two neighboring sites of “Ez Echards” and “Les Aussy” which both sit immediately underneath the 1er Cru “Ronceret”. This Volnay has excellent ruby-red color; it is fresh, fruity with exuberant red berry fruit that spreads on the palate; and, it is lightly tannic in the finish to let one know this is from Volnay.
Bitouzet-Beaune-Cents-Vignes Beaune 1er Cru Cents Vignes: 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.
Bitouzet-Volnay-Mitans Volnay 1er Cru Les Mitans: 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”.
Bitouzet-Volnay-Aussy-1999 Volnay 1er Cru Les Aussy: 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.
Bitouzet-Volnay-Pitures-1999 Volnay 1er Cru Pitures: 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.
Bitouzet-Volnay-Taillepieds Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds: 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.
Bitouzet-Volnay-Chenes Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chenes: 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.
Bitouzet-Volnay-Caillerets

Volnay 1er Cru Caillerets: 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. Magnums are always part of our program with the Caillerets.

Tasting Notes (Nov 2018) by Neal Martin

2015 Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur Meursault Les Charmes 1er Cru The 2015 Meursault Les Charmes 1er Cru sports very slight reduction on the nose, but the terroir comes through: fine definition, scents of crushed stone and a little walnut, a subtle marine influence in the background. The palate is well defined with a crisp bead of acidity, […]

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Burgundy Under the Radar

BY NEAL MARTIN | JULY 17, 2018 Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur farms 12 hectares around the village of Volnay and Meursault, including a clutch of serious Volnay premier crus. I tasted a small selection of 2016s that had been recently bottled with winemaker François Bitouzet, the son of Vincent Bitouzet and Anne Prieur. Bitouzet practices organic viticulture […]

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BITOUZET: 2017 & 2016 Report on Consequences of Extreme Weather Conditions

2016: Because of the limited production of Meursault, he blended “Clos du Cromin” and “Corbins” to make one cuvee. Rougly 60% Cromin and 40% Corbins. This one time cuvee will be named “Climats de Glace”.

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Red Burgundy 2016 and 2015, Part 1: Two Terrific but Very Different Vintage

BY STEPHEN TANZER | JANUARY 25, 2018 Despite extreme weather conditions in both 2016 and 2015, Burgundy’s Côte d’Or has produced an outstanding pair of back-to-back vintages studded with hauntingly beautiful reds. Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur || Domaine Georges Lignier || Domaine Ghislaine Barthod || Domaine Fourrier/Jean-Marie Fourrier Ten years from now, when their painful memories of […]

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New 2013 Releases from the Cote d’Or

It has been our custom in recent years to let many noteworthy releases arrive at our NY warehouse without any fanfare. Within any given year, there are a throng of important and extremely limited wines that we are compelled to offer and allocate to our clients. We often call your attention to wines that are […]

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The 2015 Red Burgundies: You Are So Going To Want Them

BY STEPHEN TANZER | JANUARY 26, 2017 Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur François Bitouzet described 2015 as “a very silky, balanced year for Volnays” despite the challenging conditions. “It was a very dry year with strong oidium pressures, even worse than the last bad oidium year, 2004,” he told me in mid-November. “We had to treat the vines […]

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New Arrivals from the Cote d’Or!

Mid-November ushers in a group of noteworthy new arrivals from the Cote d’Or from the 2013 and 2014 vintages.  We are incredibly fortunate to work with vignerons who understand the importance of time.  So much wine today is rushed into the marketplace for the sole purpose of a quicker return on the investment of its […]

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The Meursaults of Bitouzet-Prieur

Tonight, on the spur of the moment, Kerry descended into the cellar and brought up a bottle of Meursault 1er Cru “Charmes” 1990 from Bitouzet-Prieur to enjoy with our dinner (a couple of steamed lobsters). It is a remarkable experience to enjoy a fine white Burgundy at the age of 22 years, one that is […]

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I have become very fond of the Pitures bottling. The two most critical facts to know about this wine are: first, the Bitouzet parcel is almost exclusively from old vines which makes this the most concentrated cuvee of the lineup of reds; and, second, the vineyard is situated on the northern-most slope of Volnay placing it side-by-side with Pommard. The location of the vineyard, the particular “terroir”, thus further emphasizes the structure of this wine, giving some of the rustic character of Pommard, a touch of “animal” if you will. It is not an elegant wine; rather, it is husky, masculine, and firm with a bouquet that I find compelling … showing some of the iron of Pommard alongside the more floral elements that mark Volnay. That is my take. I hope this proves helpful to Martin … and thank him for me for his continuing interest in our portfolio.

Neal

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