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Only the Best: Volnay’s Top Vineyards from a Classicist Master

Posted on: 04/13/22 6:37 PM


The Time Could Not Be Better






In some ways, we are about to enter a – perhaps all-too-brief – period of discovery in Burgundy. As the blue chip wines are firmly cemented as investment vehicles and luxury goods, more and more Burgundy drinkers are faced with a choice: no Burgundy, or dig deeper in the trenches of discovery and start finally drinking all those under-the-radar gems people like me have been blathering on about for decades.

 

Luckily, the time could not be any better for such research. For one, the general level of quality in Burgundy is through the roof. Gone are the days of execrable wines and lost vintages. No. Most Domaines are making at least good wine; and many Domaines are making exceptional wine.

 

Burgundy is awash in capital and resources. Wine growers understand more and more about the viticultural and vinicultural necessities to make great wines, and have the resources to achieve such ends. Picking happens when it needs to; sorting is de rigueur at multiple stages of the process; cellar work is less intrusive and clumsy. In sum, the wines are generally excellent.

 

And, still, some producers manage to rise above. Bitouzet-Prieur has long been a sleeper in Neal Rosenthal’s portfolio, crafting exceptional, classically-styled wines in Meursault and Volnay. Today, finally, critics are starting to take notice. Clive Coates, Allen Meadows, and Neal Martin are all big fans.

 

What’s more, due to how Neal Rosenthal has always bought from this estate, we have the added benefit of a few years’ bottle age when the wines land. The 2017 reds just hit. And just in time, as they are drinking beautifully now, with 2017’s succulent juiciness and freshness at the core of crystalline fruit.

 

Top notch Burgundy for under $250 these days seems like a major achievement. Just compare Lafarge or d’Angerville to these prices. And these are some of the best wines in the appellation. Bar none.



From previous offers:



As you may be well aware, Bitouzet is one of my favorite Domaines, and something of a definitional house for me. To me, the hallmark of the Domaine is balance, purity and poise. Nowhere more than Bitouzet can you well explore Burgundy’s paradoxes – depth and delicacy, body and freshness, power and finesse. It’s not that other Domaines’ wines don’t have these qualities, it’s that Bitouzet seems to express them with no overt signature, no telltale hint of oak or stems, excessive extraction or reduction – none of these. Instead you are left with nothing but Meursault and Volnay, seemingly in their most naked expressions.

 

Perhaps part of this experience is owed to the fact that Bitouzet is not a “great” Domaine, i.e. the wines are not sought after like those of Coche or Dujac or DRC or Leflaive – all Domaines, mind you, with fairly strong stylistic signatures. Moreover, we expect so much from the wines of these famous names, perhaps more than what the wine itself is. After all, I do not think much Coche Perrieres is drunk to understand the identity of Meursault Perrieres.

 

With Bitouzet, though, these pressures do not exist, and the classicist style of the Domaine lets the vineyards do the talking – whether it be the aggressive, brooding minerality of Taillepieds, the fruitier subtlety of Clos des Chenes or Cailleret’s graceful power, you know you are in Volnay.

 

And it seems the critics are catching on. Lately, Burghound has been peppering the Domaine with his coveted “♥” ratings and Neal Martin gushed over the 2019s after having been deeply impressed with the wines over a number of years at Clive Coates’ annual Burgfest.

 

I can’t recommend these enough. I only wish I had more to offer.




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Posted in Burgundy List By Ian Halbert