The Church of Burgundy: 2014 Bitouzet-Prieur Allocations – Les Blancs

Posted on: 04/5/18 3:22 PM


These are, as many of you know, among my absolute favorite Burgundies. The story here is nothing new, but something we seem to take for granted. Elegance, freshness, depth and terroir – all the buzzwords you see in every Burgundy offer – are not qualities which any Domaine produces in equilibrium or in every vintage. And yet, there are Domaines which seem to do so, and somehow remain out of the discussion when it comes to “elite” status.

I’m thinking of producers like Harmand-Geoffroy, Jean-Marc Pillot, Benjamin Leroux, Sylvain Pataille, Roblet-Monnot, and, yes, of course, Bitouzet-Prieur. In some instances I think this kind of reckoning is on account of vineyard holdings – sorry, Sylvain, Marsannay will just never have the sex appeal of Musigny. In other instances, it has to do with an existing pecking order – Rousseau reigns supreme in Gevrey, and likely will for a very long time.

In Bitouzet’s case – and Roblet-Monnot, for that matter – the existing paradigm in Volnay – with Lafarge and d’Angerville very safely ensconced at the top of the quality pyramid seems likely not to change in the foreseeable future. As such, collectors score their precious bit of this or that from these two Domaines and overlook the rest of the appellation.

This makes no sense to me at all. If Volnay and Meursault’s cups runneth over with talent, why not buy more Volnay and Meursault? I would rather an exalted wine from these appellations than a mediocre wine from another. Thankfully, Domaines like Bitouzet-Prieur deliver on that promise with such regularity and precision that we have a plethora of options.

Ok. I’ve said my piece. The long and short of it is that I think you should buy as much of these wines as your budget will allow.

I include a write up from previous offers, as well as a cri de coeur: Bitouzet-Prieur remains for me one of the benchmark producers of old school, classical Burgundies that say volumes, while speaking very softly. If you prize terroir, finesse and focus, Bitouzet is for you.

There’s a lot I could say here, as I am simply fanatical about père Vincent and now ascendant fils François Bitouzets’ wines. So is Neal Rosenthal: Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur has been a mainstay of the Rosenthal portfolio since first importing the 1976s. I could yammer away about the elegance, finesse and grace of the wines; exult in the historical details of the Domaine which stretch back more than 200 years and include Domaine bottling as early as the turn of last century; I could wax poetic about breathtaking encounters with OLD bottles of Volnay or Meursault I’ve had from their remarkable Domaine; I could … well, you get the idea!

Simply put: I consider Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur’s Meursaults and Volnays canonical. They are the Iliad and Odyssey of the Burgundy room at Gordon’s. Definitional, pure and exactly what one should expect out of red and white Burgundy. If I were to design a course on Burgundy, the foundational texts from which we would depart and always turn back to would be one of Bitouzet-Prieur’s lieu-dit Meursaults and the village Volnay. The simple reason is for the utterly classic nature of the wines: the former, always redolent of hazelnut oil and waxy, ripe orchard fruits, tensile, but rich and creamy on the palate, with a long, saline finish that adds up to the mind-boggling rich-yet-ethereal high-wire act that only white Burgundy gets away with; the latter, boasting a bouquet of pure red fruits, roses and mineral chalk, with an utterly sexy suavity on the palate, that recalls something silken or velvet, and exuding the sultry, outright seductive charm of sensual joy and yet still calling your attention back to the terroir from which it came. In other words, from these two wines, you could recreate the entire vocabulary for understanding Burgundy.

“Others envy us our terroirs. The more typical the wine is, the less chance that others will achieve the same quality.” – François Bitouzet on the principle guiding the Domaine

But how does this all too rarely regarded and humble Domaine do it? The same way all the best vignerons have done it: they hew to what has worked for centuries. Honest, rigorous, respectful work in the vineyards (lutte raisonnée) and careful, attentive work in the cellar. That’s it, really; after all, they’ve had some practice: the Bitouzet line has been making wine in Volnay and Meursault since 1802!

These remain some of the finest wines we work with, even if a bit underappreciated. I tasted both of these wines from barrel and in bottle when I was last in Burgundy – to put it mildly, the wines did not disappoint.


2014 Bitouzet-Prieur Allocation Part I: Les Blancs

2014 Puligny-Montrachet “Les Levrons” 

Neal’s notes: 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.

Burghound: “Soft reduction does not completely mask the aromas of gun flint, citrus and white orchard fruit aromas. There is good richness to the round and appealingly textured middle weight flavors that possess a lush mouth feel, all wrapped in a balanced, complex and lingering finish that displays a hint of bitter lemon. This opulent effort should also drink well young but age well too if desired.” 89-91 pts. ♥

2014 Meursault 1er Cru “Santenots”

Neal’s notes: 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”!

Burghound: “There is no problem with reduction here as the expressive nose offers up cool and pure notes of citrus, apple, pear and discreet floral nuances. There is good intensity to the generously proportioned yet energetic medium-bodied flavors that exude a subtle minerality onto the balanced and solidly persistent finale. This attractive effort should drink reasonably well young but reward 5 to 7 years of cellar time too.” 89-91 pts.

2014 Meursault 1er Cru “Charmes”

2014 Meursault 1er Cru “Charmes” 1.5L Magnum 

Neal’s notes: From a 0.37 hectare parcel 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; a wine that performs beyond its village status.

Burghound: “Very strong reduction completely dominates the underlying fruit. The powerful and admirably concentrated broad-shouldered flavors possess a very round, suave and succulent texture where all of the dry extract really coats the mouth on the explosively long, complex and driving finish. This should be a knockout in 7 to 10 years and it’s going to need at least 4 to 5 first.” 90-93 pts. ♥

2014 Meursault 1er Cru “Perrières” 

2014 Meursault 1er Cru “Perrières” 1.5L Magnum 

Neal’s notes: 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.

Burghound: “A gentle application of wood frames a cool and airy mix of white orchard fruit, in particularly green apple, along with the classic floral and mineral notes. There is good if not great concentration to the relatively powerful medium-bodied flavors that possess a suave mouth feel, all wrapped in a chiseled, energetic and impressively lingering finish. This is not as dense or complex as the Charmes but it is notably finer plus I suspect that much more depth will develop with time in bottle.” 90-93 pts. ♥

Posted in Burgundy List By Ian Halbert