Jean-Yves Bizot, Domaine Bizot in Vosne-Romanée.

ean-Yves Bizot in Vosne-Romanée was not particularly fond of the wines from the 1970s and the 1980s. When he brought Domaine Bizot back to life in 1995 he turned to previous generations for answers.

– I did not enjoy drinking those wines from the 1970s and the 1980s, he says. I did not like the structure and the tannins. I did not like the aromas they developed as they aged. All of this were things you did not find in the wines from the 1950s and the 1960s, which made me start thinking.

Domaine Bizot is one of the smaller domaines in Vosne-Romanée, just three and a half hectares. Jean-Yves Bizot’s father did not make any wine. Instead, for many years the vineyards were rented to other growers. Before that his grandfather ran the domaine, but not as a full time job.

Echézeaux, Burgundy.– My father was a paediatrician, continues Jean-Yves Bizot. He did not work with wine at all. He inherited the domaine from his father, who also was a doctor. He was a surgeon at the hospital in Beaune.

Even though it was not his main occupation, wine was his passion, Jean-Yves Bizot explains about his grandfather. Back then the domaine was almost eight hectares. Later, when the vineyards were passed on to the next generation, part of it ended up at Domaine Coudray-Bizot in Beaune and Domaine Naddef in Fixin. The remaining two and a half hectares were en fermage between 1971 and 1995.

– The fact that my father did not take on the domaine created a unique opportunity for me, says Jean-Yves Bizot. When he was young my father worked in the cuverie together with my grandfather, but in 1952 he left for his military service and to pursue his studies. So when I arrived at the domaine in 1995 I could ask my father how the wine was made four decades earlier.

Bourgogne Le Chapitre.– I immediately stopped using herbicides and I began looking into the use of sulphite and how to reduce it. In the vineyards I switched to lutte raisonnée. In 2001 I moved into organic wine growing and in 2004 the domaine was fully organic. I am not certified organic and I do not have a wish to be.

Domaine Bizot is mainly a red domaine. There is some white wine from the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits and there is a white from Flagey-Echézeaux. If the latter had been planted with pinot noir it would have been a Vosne-Romanée. But since the parcel is planted with chardonnay it is only allowed to be labelled as regional appellation, Bourgogne.

– Les Violettes, as it is called, is right next to Clos de Vougeot. It is a very nice parcel. It has been in the family since the middle of the 20th century and it has always been planted with chardonnay. Today, thanks to the appellations system, the separation between red and white is more distinct. When people planted vines in the 1800s they did not think in terms of appellations.

Jean-Yves Bizot says he does not necessarily believe there is such a thing as red or white soil in the sense that one is better suited for pinot noir and the other for chardonnay.

– If white sells it is white soil, if not it is red soil, and the other way around, he says with a mischievous smile. There is a commercial dimension to it as well. The Corton hill was more red 25 years ago than it is today, but the soil has not changed. The same goes for Puligny-Montrachet. A long time ago it was much more red wine there.

Jean-Yves Bizot, Domaine Bizot in Vosne-Romanée.In 2007 Jean-Yves Bizot acquired vineyards in Chenôve, one of Dijon’s suburbs. The former – Le Chapitre – was love at first sight, while the latter – Marsannay, Clos du Roy – was a bit difficult.

Le Chapitre is regional appellation, squeezed in between high buildings in the middle of Chenôve. Clos du Roy is, despite being located in the commune of Chenôve, village appellation Marsannay and is the northern continuation of the vineyards around the village of Marsannay.

– Le Chapitre was easy, says Jean-Yves Bizot. I had a look and bought it immediately. Compared with the lieux-dits up for premier cru status in Marsannay Le Chapitre is small, just 5.5 hectares. We are about ten owners there. You have Sylvain Pataille, Laurent Fournier, Domaine Gagey, Drouhin, Bouvier and a few more there. The soil is quite homogenous. It is not very different up the slope.

– My Clos du Roy is a small parcel, with very irregular results. Some years I only make 150 bottles. It is at the southern end, not far from Longeroies. It is up towards the top of the slope where it is drier and very little soil. This parcel always gives me surprises. Never any nice ones though. Hail, roe deers, you name it.

Back in Vosne-Romanée Domaine Bizot produces a few village appellation cuvées, the occasional premier cru (from declassified Echézeaux) and a grand cru, Echézeaux.

– I don’t make the Vosne-Romanée premier cru every year, says Jean-Yves Bizot. When I do I use a parcel in a part of Echézeaux called Les Treux. It’s at the bottom, below Loächausses. I have two parcels in Echézeaux. The other, bigger one, is in Les Orveaux. It’s a parcel which ripens late, quite the opposite to Les Treux, which usually is the first parcel we harvest at the domaine. Often there is a week’s difference between the two. When yields are low I blend the two. Otherwise I make one Echézeaux and one Vosne-Romanée premier cru. I don’t want two Echézeaux cuvées. That is more a commercial decision than anything else.

Vosne-Romanée, Les Jachées.There used to be an old vines cuvée of village Vosne-Romanée, but on December 19 in 2009 the temperature dropped to -25°C during a few hours. All the old vines were wiped out, making 2009 the last vintage of the old vines cuvée.

Just behind the winery in Vosne-Romanée is Les Jachées. It is village appellation and Domaine Bizot is the only one to bottle this separately. It is also the biggest parcel of the domaine. Roughly one quarter of Les Jachées is owned by Domaine Bizot, 0.63 ha of 2.5 ha.

– It is not a powerful wine, but it is an interesting wine and that is the reason I bottle it separately, explains Jean-Yves Bizot. In 1855 it was classified as Troisième Cuvée (by Dr Lavalle) together with Jacquines, Communes and Cros Parantoux.

Since then Cros Parantoux has become an almost mythical wine, thanks to Henri Jayer. The other lieux-dits have remained much more low profile.

– Cros Parantoux became what it is, not because it is an exceptional terroir, but because it was an exceptional encounter between a vineyard and a man.

© 2017 Ola Bergman