What I'm Drinking...

2002 Simon Bize & Fils Savigny-les-Beaune Aux Grands Liards

Publish Date: 31 Jul 2015

Authored by: James Halliday

Patrick Bize (son of Simon Bize) was a very good friend of mine. He came to Australia twice to undertake a vintage, the first at Brokenwood in the Hunter Valley, the second in the Yarra Valley in 1986 with Coldstream Hills. He and I were the winery labour force that year, which was made in a shed at Yarra Ridge (established and then owned by the Bialkower family).

For my part, I had always loved the style of wines that he made, adopting full bunch fermentation with foot stomping, etc, and using oak in part procured from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (second use) made possible by his friendship with Aubert de Villaine. It has never ceased to amaze me how pinot noir in Burgundy can absorb 100% whole bunch fermentation (always used with Patrick Bize) without batting an eyelid, even in the supposedly lesser regions such as Savigny-les-Beaune. If I were to start again (and, I must quickly say that as I approach my 77th birthday next month, I have not the slightest intention of doing so in this incarnation), I would retain whol ebunch fermentation, even though Coldstream Hills (and others) are using a whole berry, but no whole bunch, method.

Drinking this wine as I am, the dictation machine in my left hand, the wine in the right, marks a rite of passage in time since Patrick died from a heart attack during vintage in 2013. Above all else, it has some of the sauvage character which made the '78 vintage so great. It's foresty and earthy, yet exceptionally full in the mouth and with a length on the palate that Burgundy is able to instil in its wines, the rest of us mortals looking on in envious admiration. The 2002 vintage has waxed and waned in popularity; early on it was said if you couldn't make a good wine in this vintage, find some other occupation, but a reappraisal (by some) had other ideas to which they are, quite frankly, welcome. I have enough bottles of this wine, and others he made in 2002, to see my ashes scattered on House Block Chardonnay, no matter how far in the future that event may be. Vale Patrick, and thank you for your legacy.

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