Belluard is Back!

3/4/16 -

It’s that time of the year again, and after a long absence of one of my favorite winemakers from our shelves, the wines from Dominique Belluard are here again! For those of us familiar with these fantastic wines, rejoice! And for those who haven’t had the pleasure of tasting them before, take note.

Dominique took over this estate in 1988 in the village of Ayze, and farms 20 hectares of vines at around 400m in altitude in the foothills of the French Alps. The soils here are heavy clay with marl and a limestone base (with the exception of his Le Feu parcel that is littered with red, iron-rich stones). Belluard started as a family farm working in true polyculture but came to focus on viticulture as Dominque grew increasingly interested in the local grape variety, Gringet, which was on the brink of extinction. He now has the largest holdings of this grape in the world! He also has small parcels of Altesse and Mondeuse here, and his vineyards are farmed using biodynamic principles with the average age of the vines being between ten- and sixty- years old.

In the cellar Dominique is very particular, concentrating on the use of concrete eggs in addition to stainless steel tanks. He thinks that the natural movement of the wine on its lees (almost like the air within a convection oven) in these tanks is crucial for Gringet, and yields wines of texture, precision, and energy. Fermentations occur with native yeasts, and the only addition is a small dose of SO2 at bottling.

Ayse truly is a visually stunning place, with steep slopes covered in vines rising behind the houses, and Mont Blanc towering over the valley off in the distance. The physical beauty of the region matches that of the wine Dominique is able to make here. The 2014s were all showing incredibly well when tasted in Angers this past month, and I can’t be more thrilled to have them in the shop. -Tim Gagnon

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