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Domaine de Belliviere (Eric Nicolas), Coteaux du Loir Rouge-Gorge, 2018

$45.99

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Perhaps the greatest wine to be made from Pineau d'Aunis, Rouge Gorge is both ethereal and concentrated, with an effusively verdant perfume and a tightly-wound, deep-red core. Notes of white pepper, cut lawn, strawberries and watermelon make this essentially a picnic in a glass.

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Some of the most profound wines ever made come from places at the very limits of where grapevines can survive. In the North of the Loire Valley the Coteaux-du-Loir/Jasnieres is such a place. In fact the region was almost blasted into non-existence during the extreme frost of 1956. Today the region is miniscule compared to the other Loire appellations with only 80 hectares of vineyards.

Historically the vines here have struggled but as global temperatures rise the difficulties have somewhat abated. Now we are discovering wines of unique terroir and astounding beauty and following the growing legends of the winemakers who make them. Among these new legends is Eric Nicolas of Domaine Belliviere, a city boy turned winemaker who is rewriting the history of Loire winemaking nobility.

Eric and his wife Christine took the leap in 1995. After leaving his job and studying oenology they left Paris and headed to the Loire to pursue their dream. But dreams do not come cheap in the land of grand Chateaux. Prices were too high for them in most parts of the valley and they soon found themselves in the hinterlands of Coteaux-du-Loir/Jasnieres. It was not easy for them at first. Frost, broken contracts, and the hard work of converting grazing land to vineyards were all hard fought battles but they persevered. Today they make some of the most delicious and exciting wines the region has ever produced.

At Domaine de Belliviere Chenin Blanc is the focus, complemented by a small amount of old-vine Pineau d’Aunis (a rare, indigenous red grape cousin of Chenin), Cot (aka Malbec), Cabernet Franc and Gamay. When they started, Eric and Christine had just 3.5 hectares in the Coteaux-du-Loir and slowly acquired a sprinkling of plots over 5 villages.

Today their operation has grown to a whopping 65 different sites, divided roughly even between the Coteaux and Jasnieres. All in they are working 15 hectares. Though the average vine age is over 50 years old there are some new plantings too. However all new plantings have been carried out with massale selections from those old vines. All farming and winemaking is certified Biodynamic as of the 2011 vintage.

The most compelling quality of Domaine de Belliviere and Eric Nicolas as a winemaker is just how “pre-industrial” these wines are. These are hand made wines in the extreme. Each parcel is vinified separately in quantities most producers would consider unviable. Fermentation takes place in used barriques and is allowed to run its course naturally which can be quite lengthy.

In the end nothing is added to his wines save the occasional touch of sulfur and only if it is crucial. These are wines that are emblematic of a place and a dedication to anyone who struggled to realize a dream without compromising. Above all else they are utterly delicious.

What importer Bowler Wine has to say about this wine...

100% Pineau d'Aunis. Rouge Gorge ("red throat" is named in honor of the robins which inhabit the vineyards. The Pineau d'Aunis vines are scattered amongst many Bellivière parcels and range in age from 25 to 45 years old. The soils are generally flinty clay over tuffeau (soft limestone); the vines are kept to a maximum yield of 25 hl/ha. The Nicolas family farms biodynamically and harvests by hand. The grapes are destemmed, crushed and fermented spontaneously with native yeasts in old barrels. Macerations lasts up to a month, with occasional punchdowns and with each parcel vinified separately. The wines are aged in used barrel for 12 to 18 months, before blending and bottling without fining or filtering.

Details

  • Grape Variety

    Pineau D'Aunis

  • Vintage

    2018

  • Size

    750ml

  • Farming Practice

    Biodynamic

  • Style

    Floral , Herbaceous , Spicy

  • Sweetness

    Dry

  • Body

    Light Bodied

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