A Tribute to the Master of Savigny: 2011 Bize Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Fournaux

Posted by Ian McFadden

Honesty, Purity, Soul
2011 Bize Savigny-les-Beaune
1er Cru Les Fournaux
A tribute to the master of Savigny

"…so many Burgundy lovers missed the boat with Patrick Bize’s brilliant wines." - John Gilman

The wines of Patrick Bize are one of my most valuable personal discoveries in the well over a decade that I've been drinking and collecting.

They are authentic, mindful, perennially overachieving, and too often overlooked. Patrick Bize, the man at the helm of the estate, passed away in the fall, and his death deprived Burgundy of one of its greats.

If you haven't yet had the pleasure of drinking Bize's wines (John Gilman's talking to you, above), today's 1er Cru Les Fournaux, a fantastic value from the beautiful 2011 vintage, is the perfect introduction. Those who already know what this man was capable of will not want to let this offer pass by.

Patrick started working in his family vineyards in 1978, and officially took over from his father a decade later. Though he never had any formal training, he was mentored by some of the greats - Aubert de Villaine, Henry Jayer, Jacques Seysses, the Marquis d'Angerville and Hubert de Montille.

As Gilman put it in his worthwhile tribute to Bize after his death, he made "classic old school wines that aged brilliantly and recalled a simpler era of Burgundy appreciation."

Savigny-les-Beaune is still one of the under-appreciated regions in Burgundy, and for the domaine's low profile, and relatively low prices that come along, we can only be thankful. Past the more hyped villages at the southern end of the Côte d'Or, Savigny-les-Beaune offers some of the ethereal elegance of Volnay, with tremendous geometric structure—while never letting on the slightest hint of heft. And here, Patrick Bize sat at the very top.

Bize's wines, and Savigny in general, are not socks-knocking blockbusters. They don't rely on power of reputation or of girth. His wines are mineral and honest, possessing a luscious rusticity, but one that's elegant nonetheless. This is personal wine—traditional, old-school Burgundy that will impress, to be sure, but thoughtfully.

Savigny-les-Beaune is fascinating for its sheer number of 1er Cru microterroirs, and Les Fournaux, along with Les Vergelesses, is one of our two favorites. If the former is more structured and refined, Les Fournaux is lusher, more concentrated, even voluptuous in its dark, palate-staining fruit.

And in 2011, as the Burghound puts it ever so succinctly — and completely spot on — this is "good stuff." The Côte de Beaune was a high point of the 2011 vintage: The wines can be truly seductive, balancing tension with wonderfully fresh vibrancy and lift.

This is the last vintage Patrick Bize saw all the way through. And in the nearly four decades he's been in the vineyards, it's also, according to the man himself (who was never one to brag), one of the four best vintages he claims to have ever produced.

For a so-called "simpler" appellation, the longevity of these wines is astounding. Going back two decades, the wines are all intact and drinking beautifully. And if Patrick Bize himself will no longer be at the helm of the estate, the wines he crafted so beautifully will be drinking well for many years to come.

To order, please email us at offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine and Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits

Burghound: "A highly complex, pure and cool nose of black raspberry liqueur, dried floral elements, earth and spice hints precedes the palate coating, detailed and energetic medium weight plus flavors that possess a taut muscularity on the robust, intense and balanced finish. There is an interesting contrast present between an almost lilting mouth feel and the solidly powerful finish. Good stuff with plenty of stuffing to reward 10 to 12 years of cellar time."