New Releases from Bitouzet-Prieur

Posted on Posted in Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur, Rosenthal Wine Merchant News, RWM Contributor

One of the oldest partnerships in our entire family of winegrowers is with this enviably landed domaine, with their staggering collection of holdings throughout Meursault and Volnay. We began our work here first with the hugely talented classicist Vincent Bitouzet—from the 1978 vintage through the 2009 vintage—and, under his son Francois’s stewardship from 2010 on, the wines have gained even greater precision and complexity. They are now unquestionably among the very finest Burgundies we offer, combining depth, purity, and dynamism in a way few domaines can approach, and rendering the intricacies of their terroirs with laser-like focus, vintage after vintage. Francois converted entirely to organic viticulture soon after taking the reins (his father had eschewed herbicides in the early 1990s), and his sensitive hand in the cellar is evident in every cuvée. The whites are unapologetically dense and concentrated, yet with filigree minerality and great drive; they are purposefully bottled with slight reduction and are built for the long haul. The reds, sometimes vinified with between one-quarter and one-third whole clusters depending on the vintage character, are layered and profound, demonstrating the powerful minerality and aristocratic poise of Volnay at its truest.

Our incoming shipment from Bitouzet-Prieur comprises, for the most part, the 2017 vintage in Meursault and the 2016 vintage in Volnay. These 2017 whites offer the open-knit yet electric personality of this welcomely problem-free growing season, displaying a house-typical sense of concentration and structure on their driving frames. The 2016 reds, while bearing the intensity of this frost-affected season, show excellent balance; they possess an amplified sense of tension, but their fruit remains vibrant and pure. Francois chose to de-stem entirely in 2016, in contrast to the 2015s which were vinified with 25-30% whole clusters.

2017 Bourgogne Aligoté “Les Grandes Terres”
Francois produces a beautifully textured Aligoté from a parcel of vines planted in the early 1950s in the northern sector of Meursault. Raised 12 months on its fine lees in used 228-liter barrels, it displays notable complexity and density for an Aligoté, and will even improve in bottle over the medium term as well.

2017 Bourgogne Blanc
Bitouzet works a 0.71-hectare parcel of vines in the lieu-dit Les Herbeux in northern Meursault, adjacent to premier cru Malpoiriers, and planted in the early 1950s (with a portion replanted in 2010). Aged 12 months on its fine lees in 228-liter barrels, a maximum of 15% of which are new, the domaine’s Bourgogne Blanc presents as a Meursault in miniature, with sneaky power, pronounced salinity, and a tightly coiled structure that rewards a few years of cellaring.

2017 Meursault “Les Corbins”
Southeast-facing Les Corbins is situated just below the Clos du Cromin (see below) on the slope, adjacent to premier cru Les Plures, and Francois owns a hectare and a half of Chardonnay here, planted between 1974 and 1987. Aged 16 months in 20% new barrels, it’s a textbook Meursault, combining intense minerality with a subtle buttercream note, and plenty of acid-driven tension as per the Bitouzet house style.

2017 Meursault “Clos du Cromin”
Clos du Cromin is a walled site within the larger lieu-dit of Le Cromin, situated immediately upslope from Les Corbins in the northern sector of Meursault. Planted in 1951, Bitouzet’s third of a hectare of Chardonnay here yields a more mineral-driven, structurally stricter wine than the “Les Corbins” above, yet one which still shows ample flesh despite its youthful reticence. Like “Les Corbins,” it spends 16 months in 20% new oak and is bottled after the second winter following harvest.

2017 Puligny-Montrachet “Les Levrons”
Bitouzet’s lone Puligny-Montrachet is produced from a 0.6-hectare 1955 planting in the lieu-dit Les Levrons, which lies just below premier cru Les Referts on the slope in the northern part of the village. Francois crafts a Puligny of impeccable, crystalline clarity from this site, with more filigree, citrus-tinged fruit than his Meursaults, but with an equally authoritative, if less weighty, undercarriage of earth-derived minerality. It spends 16 months in 20-25% new barrels during its élevage.

2017 Meursault 1er Cru “Santenots”
This unique premier cru sits right on the border of Meursault and Volnay; white wines from here are labeled Meursault, and red wines Volnay, and Francois owns a fifth of a hectare of Chardonnay in the steep Santenots-Blanc climat, planted in the early 1970s. The plot’s soils of Bathonian limestone and brown scree produce a broad, powerful wine that combines rich body and punchy minerality in an impressively dynamic whole. This passes 16 months in about one-quarter new barrels before bottling.

2017 Meursault 1er Cru “Charmes”
Like the Meursault-Perrières below, Bitouzet’s Meursault-Charmes is one of the greatest and most iconic white wines in the RWM portfolio. The family owns a total of 0.55 hectares in this renowned cru, divided between two plots—one in the upper part of the vineyard and one in the lower part—and the combination of these produces a wine of outstanding complexity, with greater finesse than the “Santenots” above but no less power. Most of Bitouzet’s vines here were planted in 1944, with a portion planted in 1987, and this sees 25-30% new oak during its 16-month élevage.

2017 Meursault 1er Cru “Perrières”
Francois owns just over a quarter-hectare of Chardonnay, planted in 1983, in the lower part of this fabled premier cru, situated immediately above Charmes on the slope. Always the most dazzlingly mineral wine in their lineup, Bitouzet’s Meursault-Perrières offers a tight-grained, tunneling, borderline saline palate that can be almost overwhelming in youth, but unfailingly blossoms gradually into a white Burgundy of layered majesty. Like the Meursault-Charmes above, 25-30% new oak is employed in its 16-month élevage.

2018 Bourgogne Passetoutgrains “Grange le Duc”
Francois’s Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, from the Grange le Duc vineyard adjacent to Volnay proper, comprises 70% Pinot Noir (planted in 1974) and 30% Gamay (planted in 1953), and it spends one year in used 228-liter barrels. Juicy yet with a Volnay-like sense of savory earth, its finesse and equilibrium allow it to sit comfortably alongside Bitouzet’s wines from more hallowed terroirs.

2018 Bourgogne Rouge
Bitouzet’s formidable Bourgogne Rouge comes from a hectare’s worth of Pinot Noir planted between 1963 and 1970 in the lieu-dit Petit Près, situated just below the villages-level Volnay vineyard Les Pasquiers near the Meursault border. Aged entirely in used barrels for 12 months, it leads with fruit—small-berried, finely etched fruit—but possesses ample minerality and a notable sense of refinement for its level.

2017 Volnay
Bitouzet’s exemplary Volnay comes from 2.2 hectare’s worth of holdings planted between 1961 and 2003 in three sites: Petits Gamets, Echards, and the villages-level portion of Les Aussy. Aged for 16 months in a modest 10% new oak, it is of a piece with the domaine’s loftier premier cru cuvées, emphasizing impeccable purity of fruit and haunting balance, and underpinned by enough structure to allow for gradual and striking improvement in the cellar.

2016 Volnay 1er Cru “Les Aussy”
Bitouzet owns 0.5 hectares of Pinot Noir in this vineyard which sits just below premier cru Les Champans on the slope; half was planted in 1948, and the other half in 1998. With its pretty spice element, elegant floral notes, and taut red fruits, this cuvée offers a supple, silken texture and subdued tannins—a quintessential Volnay, and the most open and approachable of Francois’s premier crus.

2016 Volnay 1er Cru “Mitans”
Les Mitans sits just downslope from the village itself, sandwiched between premier crus Les Brouillards and En l’Ormeau, and Bitouzet owns a scant 0.13-hectare parcel here of Pinot Noir planted in 1991—only enough for three barrels in a normal vintage, all of which are purchased by RWM. Firmer and darker in fruit character than “Les Aussy” above, it offers a lurking mineral-driven power and a counterbalancing floral element.

2016 Volnay 1er Cru “Taillepieds”
Bitouzet owns 0.72 hectares in this renowned mid-slope premier cru, planted in 1971, 1983, and 1997. The poor, hard limestone soils of Taillepieds produce a wine of thundering minerality whose presence is felt even through its blatantly salty finish, and the savory red fruits and subtle floral notes, gorgeous as they are, take a backseat to this overarching impression of mother-rock.

2016 Volnay 1er Cru “Clos des Chênes”
The domaine possesses two parcels of Pinot Noir in this highly regarded premier cru, one mid-slope with browner soil, and one high-slope with whiter soil, planted between 1976 and 1986. This cuvée is one of dynamism, balance, and drive, and although there is marked tension between its vigorous acidity, soaring aromatics, and thickly rendered fruit, its dominant sensibility is one of regal poise. It is the most linear, most kinetic wine in the Bitouzet cellar, and it is stunning in every vintage.

2016 Volnay 1er Cru “Pitures”
Although it hails from a lesser-known site than some of the domaine’s other wines, Francois always serves his “Pitures” last in the lineup, and for good reason: this cuvée offers the sternest, firmest, most elemental sense of structure of all the Volnay premier crus in the cellar. Situated near the Pommard border and adjacent to the fabled Clos des Ducs, Pitures expresses the broad, sanguine fruit more typically associated with Pommard, although a profound Volnay-esque sense of elegance permeates it as well. Bitouzet’s vines here were planted between 1959 and 1974, and encompass just shy of a hectare.

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