Domaine de Bellevue is one of the largest domaines in the VDLT portfolio, producing about 120,000 bottles annually from its 22 hectare estate. But everything else about it seems small and intimate - except of course Jean-Louis Petillat who despite his imposing stature has a warm smile and gentle demeanor.
Jean-Louis' family owned and operated the Domaine for four generations. A few years ago, he sold the estate to Jacques Gautier. To Jacques' credit, he recognizes Jean-Louis' great talent and understanding of the terrior so he gives him full control over farming and vinification decisions. Not having to worry about the business, means Jean-Louis can focus entirely on producing great wine - and does he ever.
Legend has it that Saint-Pourçain is France's oldest vineyard - a claim supported by the fact that the area was settled by the Phoenicians in the 1st millennium BCE. Even if not true, there is evidence of Roman winemaking here as early as 50 CE.
In the middle ages, Saint-Pourçain was one of the most respected and sought after wines in France. Kings and Popes enjoyed them. Some believe the wines were more highly prized than Burgundy.
Classified as part of the Loire Valley despite being on the far southeast outskirts (not far from Macon in Burgundy). The appellation was granted AOC status in 2009. There are less than 20 growers here.
There are two tracts of vineyards one has granite soil and the other sand and granite. Here, Jean-Louis practices La Lutte Raisonée (sensible sustainability) and intervenes minimally. He fully destems prior to the crush.