Few Burgundy addresses find equal amounts of mystery and cult-like attention surrounding them like those of Domaine Bizot. Of all the barrel tastings over this summer's trip (and my life) none have shown a purity of fruit surpassing those I found at Bizot. At only 900 cases produced annually, this is one of Burgundy's smallest and most highly coveted domaines.
Today, I'm happy to offer a range of reds from Bizot's 2015 vintage, as well 2002 and 1996.
Yves Bizot is a geologist and professor of viticulture and oenology in Beaune, but it's in Vosne Romanée where he resides and tends to his 3.54 hectares of vines. On one hand, Bizot's wines carry a superior and pristine quality of fruit that call to mind his former neighbor and friend, Henri Jayer. But, protocol in the vineyard and the cellar diverge drastically from Vosne's iconic, historical figure.
Discussing the style of Bizot always presents a challenge, as there's been much conflicting information circulated. But, after touring the vines, the cellar, and the cuverie (no pictures allowed) I walked away with a better grasp on simply just how these wines do what they do.
In color they are transparent and a brilliant ruby red. So brilliant that I was honestly mesmerized for several minutes before I remembered it was time to swirl and sniff. In texture they are as silky as you will find in the region, and the glossy imprint of high-definition fruit on the palate is the stuff you never want to forget.
Fermentation: all Pinot Noir here is 100% whole cluster fermented. This gives a great, savory brown spice, and although technically stems will reduce acidity in wines through dropping out potassium, the lifted and crunchy traits give a sensation of freshness.
Clusters see 5-6 days in open-top wood fermenters with small additions of C02 where semi-carbonic fermentation begins. After this phase, 1/4 of the cap is gently trodden by foot. The next day, another 1/4 portion of the cap follows the same protocol, and so on. This gently extracts color and tannin, and allow for a carbonic influence which gives some of the more fruity and bouncy characteristics. Tannins remain soft but provide structure, and as compared to most red Burgundies these have an approachability and forward fruit component I love.
Aging takes place in 100% new French wood. Minimal sulphur is only added at bottling, and this has placed the Bizot wines into a "natural" category by many. The combo of whole cluster, new wood, and minimal sulphur is a fascinating one. It's an approach that has to be carried out with great precision for the wines to show their best. And these, particularly the brilliant 2015's, are just that, brilliantly pure expressions of Vosne's terroir and ultimately, delicious.
Bottling is 100% by hand directly from each barrel into bottle. The small cellar takes up to 9 days to bottle in most vintages, with a team of two working together from slowly from barrel to barrel. Bizot believes the less a wine is moved the greater he finds the expression of fruit.
Viticulture is a large reason why pricing here is what it is. Yields are kept to 5 clusters per vine, about half of what you can find from the other great domaines of Burgundy. Domaine Leroy is the only other name I'm familiar with who keeps yields this low. As you can imagine, concentration of fruit here is incredibly high.
Bizot shares another philosophy with Leroy, as he chooses not to hedge his shoots. Believing the cutting is harmful to the vine and that the extra vertical growth gives way to greater photosynthesis, he lets these grow long and will tie or curl them around as summer's growth continues.
*Bizot is also experimenting with échalas vine training (pictured below), as is the custom in the Northern Rhone Valley with Syrah. This is rarely seen in Burgundy, where nearly all vines are trained into vertical shoot positions spread out on a wired trellis system.
Sites: All of Bizot's parcels are under one hectare in size. Two of the more interesting wines are the Bourgogne Chapitre and the Vosne Romanée 1er Cru.
Chapitre is one of only a select number of Bourgogne single vineyards that can legally be named on labels. Prior to the 1600's this vineyard produced the most expensive wines in all of Burgundy, second only to Grand Cru Clos de Beze. This was confirmed when we visited Sylvain Pataille, who also produces this site.
The "Vosne Romanée 1er Cru" is 100% comprised of Grand Cru Echezeaux from the parcel Les Treux. When small yields do not allow for this parcel to be bottled on its own it's blended with his other Echezeaux parcel, Orveaux, which sits above the Chateau du Clos Vougeot.
1x 2015 Bizot Marsannay Clos du Roy
$184 per bottle.
2x 2015 Bizot Bourgogne Rouge Le Chapitre
$299 per bottle.
4x 2015 Bizot Vosne Romanée
$324 per bottle.
4x 2015 Bizot Vosne Romanée Les Jachées
$499 per bottle.
3x 2015 Bizot Vosne Romanée Les Réas
$579 per bottle.
1x 2015 Bizot Vosne Romanée 1er Cru
$584 per bottle.
3x 2002 Bizot Vosne Romanée Les Jachées
$388 per bottle.
1x 1996 Bizot Echezeaux
$779 per bottle.