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Burgundy Winemaker Patrick Bize Dies at 61

Savigny producer dies after tragic car accident; a beloved grower and winemaker

Mitch Frank
Posted: October 24, 2013

Patrick Bize, the fourth generation owner and winemaker at Domaine Simon Bize in Burgundy's Savigny-lès-Beaune appellation, died Oct. 20. He was 61. In early October, Bize suffered a heart attack while driving. The resulting car accident left him in a coma, from which he never recovered.

Bize's great-grandfather started the domaine in the 19th century. Over the decades, it has grown to 54 acres, largely in Savigny-lès-Beaune, but also in Aloxe-Corton, Corton-Charlemagne and Latricières-Chambertin. When Patrick took over the cellars in the 1980s, he began innovating in both the winery and especially the vineyards, using a mix of modern and traditional techniques.

Outside of the vineyards, he was known as a dear friend, with an active sense of humor. He was also a lover of good food and music, and an avid cyclist, who enjoyed long rides with fellow vignerons through the region. He met his wife, Chisa, on a sales trip to Japan. She was a banker who volunteered to be his translator.

Importer Becky Wasserman, a friend of 30 years, valued his sense of fun and generosity. "I remember being taken out to dinner by someone who kindly ordered up a rare and expensive bottle," she said. "I noticed the Bize family at the table, Patrick nodded, and came to visit with a magnum in hand, poured us each a glass. The bouquet was intoxicating, a splendid wine. I asked Patrick about the wine and he said that it was just a little Savigny, nothing much, a 1929 that had laid around the cellar for a while."

Bize is survived by his wife and two children.

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