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We at Chambers Street have always been soft targets when it comes to the wines of Domaine Simon Bize in Savigny-Les-Beaune. Over the course of several generations, they have produced some of the truly definitive wines of Savigny-les-Beaune - soulful, full of pure fruit and minerality. I count amongst my formative wine memories a number of Bize bottles (the thought of a '99 Savigny "Serpentieres," from the cellar of Bize's import agent Becky Wasserman still makes me shiver).
Given all of this, you can imagine our surprise and excitement when we found out about a crop of new bottlings arriving this year. (To be fair, it's the second vintage for Akatcha). These four wines are the work of Chisa Bize, whose husband Patrick ran the estate until his untimely death in 2013. Chisa hails from the Tokyo banking world and remade her life as the wife and partner of a Burgundy grower. It was she who pushed Patrick toward organic and biodynamic viticulture, and today she and Patrick's sister Marielle manage the estate together. The wines on offer today are all farmed organically with the addition of homeopathic methods designed to replace vineyard sulfur and reduce copper in fighting mildew and oidium. The "Aka" Savigny-les-Beaune red and the Bourgogne Pinot Beurot "Akatcha" are bottled with no added sulfur; the two whites "Shirokuro" and "Shiro" have a small amount added at bottling.
I was fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Chisa at La Paulée de New York this past March. The impression I took away was of one who is totally committed to her craft, at once conscious of her place in the history of this great estate and of the opportunity for innovation that the future holds. Sans soufre winemaking is a rare thing among established producers of this stature but she shows no hesitation. At La Paulée she presented a large-format bottling of Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru from the stellar 2016 vintage with no added sulfur and it was magnificent - precise, beautifully chalky and bursting with energy. Whether you are traditionally a fan of Simon Bize wines or want to get a glimpse of Burgundy through a different lense, these are for you.
Although the most well-known wines of Simon Bize are classic, elegant Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from the Cote d'Or, the no sulfur added line of lesser known varieties might be the most intriguing. It is not often to see "risk-taking" in this region with very long-standing traditions, but Chisa Bize marches to the beat of her own drum as they say. The 'Akatcha' is 100% Pinot Beurot (otherwise known as Pinot Gris, outside of Burgundy) that is fermented whole cluster for a week with the skins, with no sulfur added at any point. The result is a deep bronze colored wine. Upon opening are notes of sweet cranberries, blood orange, and Darjeeling tea, and with some air, notes of all-spice and freshly turned soil. The palate is electric, almost effervescent, with juicy citrus, red currant and gentle grapefruit pith tannins from the maceration. Best served well chilled, with some time to let it evolve in the glass! Michelle DeWyngaert
In Japanese, Shirokuro is an approximation of Blanc de Noirs, which is what this wine is. It's a direct press of Pinot Noir, from forty-year old vines in Savigny-les-Beaune "Bourgeots," and it really is a lovely wine. It's very pretty in the glass, with just the barest touch of pink at the rim and a nose that almost suggests a white from the Rhone, full of blooming white flowers and white peach. But in the mouth it is distinctly Burgundy, with cool white fruit and beautiful texture - clean, fresh and the barest suggestion of lacy tannin that one would expect from Pinot Noir made in the usual fashion. Overall, what comes through here is filigree and finesse - even fragility - that will reward your attention. Sam Ehrlich
A blend of two parcels in Savigny, "Bourgeots" and "Planchots." 100% Whole Cluster, foot-trod and no new oak.
From two parcels in Savigny, "Planchots" and "Goudelettes." Two barrels produced, both in old wood.