“Serious House Burgundies”: 2015 Bourgogne Rouge & Blanc at Supreme Value Pricing

Posted on: 05/8/18 1:28 PM


Burgundy madness has inspired something of a crisis for wine lovers in recent years. Small quantities and enormous demand has driven prices through the roof, making even humble Bourgogne appellations wines quite expensive. From well regarded growers, it is not uncommon to see wines at this entry level sell for well over $30 and sometimes even $40 or $50. Gone are the days of $20 Burgundy, at least the ones you want to drink.

Thankfully there are still some very serious values to be found. Often these are small houses who’ve owned their land for generations and thus can control costs. Even more advantageous is hailing from appellations where there are an abundance of great producers and a few marquee ones. Appellations like Chassagne, Meursault, Volnay and Gevrey all produce wine of a generally very high quality, but have a handful of iconic producers that everyone is clamoring and willing to pay top dollar for. As such, many, many talented growers often float below the radar and can be sources for exceptional wines at relative bargain pricing.

Meursault’s Bitouzet-Prieur is a prime example. And their Bourgognes overdeliver in every vintage. 2015 is no exception. The wines are textbook for the appellation, carrying that extra edge that a truly profound vintage like 2015 can produce. For the money, I can’t imagine much better value. A rare breed these days.

2015 Bitouzet-Prieur Bourgogne Blanc

65+ year old vines in “Les Herbeaux”, in the northern quadrant of Meursault just underneath the 1er Cru “Les Malpoiriers” planted in 1956, with a parcel replanted in 2010, but not yet in production.

2015 Bitouzet-Prieur Bourgogne Rouge

45+ year old vines planted in 1963, 1969 and 1970 from a 1.2 hA parcel in Petits Près directly below Volnay “Les Pasquières”

More about the Wines:

I’ve written extensively about this jewel of Domaine both on the Daily Flash and through the Burgundy List. Finesse, freshness, breed and elegance are the hallmarks of Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur, the Burgundy family Neal Rosenthal has had perhaps his longest relationship with. Unabashed traditionalists, they typify not only the terroirs they have under vine – namely Volnay and Meursault – but also the characteristics that run through all of the wines in the Rosenthal Portfolio.

I have written enough about this Domaine in the past, I will borrow from previous campaigns, for those unfamiliar with the house: Frankly, I think Bitouzet-Prieur’s wines to be among the most exceptional of all the Burgundies we represent.

A small family operation active in Volnay since the early 19th century, the Bitouzets are committed classicists, producing perfumed, elegant, and ageworthy Volnays and Meursaults that simply sing of their origins. Looking for floral, suave and etched Volnays? Bitouzet-Prieur is your source. Oily, nutty, plump and yet structured Meursaults, Bitouzet-Prieur is your source. And as a result you will always find some iteration of each on our shelves.

Everything here is as it should be: organic, cautious and attentive viticulture; manual harvesting; natural fermentation in barrel and bottling without fining or filtering after 20-24 months. De rigueur for the old guard and great Burgundy. The Bourgogne Rouge and Blanc are no different chez Bitouzet and, like nearly every vine they own, the source for both are old vine (45+ years old!) vineyards in Volnay and Meursault respectively. Both scream with the same characteristics of the more noble wines in the cellar and exude the classical grace, charm and elegance as everything else the Bitouzets turn their hands to. And both are under $25. I told you this offer is all about value.

Neal Rosenthal has been importing Vincent Bitouzet’s wines since the 1976 vintage. Relationships like this are not common in the wine industry: growers and importers grow apart, tastes change, new generations come on and “improve” the wines. Not so here. Francois, Vincent’s son, has come into his own at the Domaine eager to take up the tradition he has inherited from his father with respect and a sense of responsibility. And Neal continues to import them. And we get to throw another talent on the scale toward the balance of old-school Burgundian elegance and charm. And you get to set some lovely wines on the table for a more than fair price. Love it when that happens!

Posted in Burgundy List By Ian Halbert