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Renewed Focus at Domaine Simon Bize

Chisa Bize continues the work of her late husband, Patrick, with a fine range of 2015 reds and whites
Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Feb 1, 2017 1:40pm ET

It's hard to believe it's been so long since my last visit chez Bize. Sadly, Patrick Bize died in 2013, but his wife, Chisa, who worked alongside him, continues to run the estate, with the help of winemakers Guillaume Bott (whites) and Nicolas Gordo (reds) and Patrick's sister Marielle Grivot. On this return visit to Domaine Simon Bize, I tasted a fine range of 2015s, from Bourgogne to grand cru.

"Two days of rain at the end of August kick-started the ripening, and we began the harvest Sept. 12," Chisa told me. "There is 20 percent less crop due to small berries that had thick skins, but the grapes were healthy. The wines are high in alcohol but fresh, and the acidity is very stable."

The approach to vinification is the same, using whole clusters and punching down twice a day once the fermentations are underway. There is a little more attention to detail concerning treatments in the 54 acres of vineyards, timing of harvest and timing the devatting of the wines. Chisa Bize studied at Domaine Leflaive's Ecole du Vin et des Terroirs, but follows her own methods, applying a mix of biodynamic techniques and Japanese philosophy.

The 2015 Simon Bize Bourgogne Rouge Les Perrières sets the pace, with a mouthful of rich, cherry, earth and spice, followed by Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Bourgeots, a more elegant style, with pure cherry, strawberry, floral and spice flavors. The Savigny-lès-Beaune Aux Grands Liards returns to a more chunky profile, exhibiting black cherry and blackberry fruit matched to a dense structure. Fine aromas of cherry and spice announce the Aloxe-Corton Le Suchot, juicy and refined, with a long finish.

Offering a darker expression of fruit, the Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Fourneaux reveals smoky black cherry and blackberry notes on a dense structure. The Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Serpentières was the most silky and charming, evoking pure cherry and black currant flavors with spicy elements extending on the finish. Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Marconnets is a sandy climat; fast-draining, it can suffer in hot, dry years like 2015. It has more richness than the Serpentières, a round, fluid red with cherry and raspberry flavors.

Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Talmettes displays pretty strawberry note allied to a lacy texture, ending with mineral and licorice accents. The Savigny-lès-Beaune Aux Vergelesses, from a 5-acre parcel, is the most complete of the Savigny-lès-Beaune premiers crus, a classy red showing ripe, sweet cherry, a hint of licorice and a supple texture with intensity and length. Savigny-lès-Beaune Aux Guettes is nervous, vibrant, its linear profile exuding cherry, black currant, licorice and mineral flavors.

There is a grand cru red from the Côte de Nuits, the Latricières-Chambertin. It sees 50 percent new oak, which was evident on the nose at this stage, as well as its monolithic structure that will serve it well over the long term. Black cherry, spice and mineral flavors converged on the elegant finish.

Among the whites, I was impressed with the Bourgogne Blanc Les Perrières for its round, inviting character, apple, butter, pastry and spice notes. The Savigny-lès-Beaune Aux Vergelesses Blanc has a smoky, reductive aroma, with flavors of honey, wax, lemon oil and mineral, all very intense and long. The Corton-Charlemagne, still fermenting, was not tasted.

It is heartwarming to see this fine Savigny domaine continuing to make distinctive reds and whites.

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