Jean-Yves Bizot's wines of Vosne-Romanée and Echezeaux have reached mythical status in the world of wine. But he hasn't made fine wine by trying to make fancy wine: these are wines born from organic farming & a return to ancestral practices such as training vines on sticks and making wine without sulfites.
“I had to forget all the things I had been taught at school: you can’t stick to what you’ve learnt if you want to work differently. You have to trust yourself.”
People: Jen-Yves Bizot
Place: Vosne-Romanée, Côte de Nuits, Burgundy, France
Varieties: Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
Farming: Organic with elements of biodynamics
Did You Know? Jean-Yves has a small parcel called Les Violettes, which due to labelling laws appears as bourgogne blanc: the region’s entry level wine, but in fact it borders the grand cru, Clos de Vougeot. It’s only tiny, and despite this area being renowned for Pinot Noir, it has always been planted to Chardonnay, and historically it was actually a garden. The soil here is a little different: very sandy, on top of pink conglomerate.
For Jean-Yves, a pivotal moment in the Bizot domaine evolution was when he decided to stop trimming the vines - also known as hedging - and instead letting the tip of each shoot, the "apex," continue its natural growth cycle. He says,
“I used to do the same as everybody else - I’d cut the vines, never asking myself the question: why? In 2002, I planted a new vineyard in the Hautes-Côtes. As I was planting, I started to ask myself the question of how I was going to cultivate these young vines, because I didn’t have a certain idea in my mind. I read that it was recommended to *not* cut them, as they’d have more carbohydrate reserves and a better vegetative cycle. I thought that was strange - why is this the case for the young vines and not for the older?”
The thought kept returning to him, so he began letting the vines grow higher and higher, until he decided there would be no difference if he cut a little bit less here or there:
“Now, for me, it’s just a question of not cutting, so that the plant can grow completely naturally.”
Jean-Yves believes this allows the plant to better self-regulate. In a region that is getting hotter and hotter every year, alcohol levels are also climbing, and some growers in 2018 experienced wines that were pushing 15% ABV. For Pinot Noir, which finds its excellence in its delicacy and finesse, this is bad news. Jean-Yves believes that the answer lies in the way the vine is farmed.