Simon Bize & Fils - Savigny-les-Beaune Aux Grands Liards 2015
100% Pinot Noir
From the importer-
Aux Grands Liards is just below Les Lavieres, a premier cru site. The vines were planted in stages between 1938 and 1979 on limestone soil, marked by reddish clay gravel. The wine has more backbone and tends to be more of a masculine expression of Pinot Noir. It is a 1.60 hectare parcel.
Aux Grands Liards was one of Patrick Bize's favorite wines in the cellar. It was also the first parcel the family owned.
There are a handful of domaines in Burgundy that we think of as almost being synonymous with their village - Domaine Simon Bize is one of them.
The domaine has a long history, having been founded in 1890, and owns 22 hectares of vines. Their holdings are a laundry list of Savigny-les-Beaune's best sites, from perfectly situated lieux-dits to the best premier cru parcels of the appellation. Their house style is one partial to whole cluster fermentation for the reds and little to no new oak on both whites and reds.
Is there a more under-appreciated great Burgundy domaine these days than Domaine Simon Bize et Fils? Both the red and the white wines here are absolutely stellar (and have been for generations), and yet, I always get the sense that the Simon Bize wines remain some of the best-kept secrets in all of Burgundy. — John Gilman
The wines [of Savigny] don't have to be tough and sauvage. What one is looking for is a combination of guts and balanced fruit, plus tannins which are properly sophisticated...Bize's wines are understated, slow to evolve and a little austere at the start. But they are beautifully poised and clear-cut in their flavours, with the individual characteristics of the premiers crus visible for all to see. — Clive Coates, The Wines of Burgundy
It's hard to believe so much time has elapsed since the tragic early passing of Patrick Bize in 2013--an absolutely essential figure in the fabric of modern Burgundy. His wines were among the first profound Burgs that I could afford right out of college. In a way, I feel like I cut my Burg chompers on his wines. As John Gilman and Clive Coates so rightly note, this has never been a domaine for fans of obvious wines. These are unapologetically Savigny, full of the 'guts' that Coates describes above. What makes them so undeniably world-class, however, is their ability to maintain a refinement and elegance in spite of, or, perhaps more accurately, in congruence with their rusticity. If DRC and Roumier are the Rolls-Royce and Aston-Martin of Burgundy, Bize is the well-maintained FJ40 or Defender. Rugged, functional and sturdy, sure, but also classic, timeless and beautiful just like its flashy brethren.
2011 was Patrick's second-to-last vintage, and it's clear that it was a resounding success across the range at this property. True to form, Bize's 2011 wines are built to stand the test of time, but they are not so tightly coiled that you can't see their potential and the shining differences of the closely tied terroir at this early stage. These will be marathoner bottles to pull from the cellar after 5, 10 and even 20+ years that are sure to bring lots of joy along the way. If you've ever had the chance to taste these with 10 plus years of bottle age, then you know what a bargain these wines are. Patrick wove plenty of magical stories in the wines he bottled in his cellar over such an impressive career, but his passionate legacy means that his early departure will not mark the end of this beloved domaine. His wife, Chisa, has stepped up to keep things ticking as before and his son, Hugo, is poised to begin his own wine studies in the next few years. We'll certainly be drinking Bize, both new and old, long into the future. Here's to hoping that our children will too.