About this wine
Fifty-five percent Gamay planted starting in 1924 in Plante-Billot and 45% Pinot Noir planted 40 years ago in Vieux Verger. The soil is granite and gravel with yields of 33 hl/ha. Machine harvested.
Vinification is 14-17 days at controlled temperatures with pumping over twice a day. The wine is racked and filtered for sediment.
About the grape blend
AOP Saint Pourcain requires reds to blend Gamay and Pinot Noir. Gamay (or fully Gamay Noir a Jus Blanc), a descendent of Pinot Noir crossed with the obscure Gouais Blanc, produces wine high in acidity and is therefore very flexible.
Pinot Noir is an ancient grape from eastern France. Notoriously challenging, it thrives in cooler climates. It can be very transparent because of its lightness and flavors of red fruit and earth.
About the vintage
Jean-Luc reports near perfect conditions in 2016. The fruit was harvested in excellent health and at peak ripeness.
Our Tasting Impressions
If the Roche Grises is about the Gamay, then this old vine offering is about purity and balance. You can taste the impression of each grape but ultimately the whole is greater than their sum. This is a lovely wine that demonstrates the uncommon wine making talents of Jean-Luc. It will be fine for a few years, but why wait?
On Your Table
Think typical French bistro dishes which tend to balance earthy flavors with acidity like vinegar, mustard, etc.. My first choice would be Lentils de Puy and go ahead and something porky if you want. Serve at or just below cellar temperature.
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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.