Our tasting impressions
The bright, tart, red fruit is so incredibly fresh that it almost seems like a natural wine. It has grainy and grippy tannins that add structure to light and funky flavors. This is not typical red Burgundy but it is delicious. Try it if you like to venture from the usual path. Tremendous value!
About this wine
Saint Romain lies in an isolated valley northeast of Auxey-Duresses. In the past, it was neglected because grapes struggled to ripen in its micro-climate. With rising global temperatures, that is no longer the case and Potel is betting that there is a big future for affordable Burgundy here.
His vines are in 4 plots (Les Poillanges, Aux Bas des Poillanges, La Perrière and Sous le château) planted in 1957. The lofty elevation of 376m shelters the east-facing vines from intense summer heat. The alluvial clay and limestone soil is rather deep.
The harvest was on September 23rd. The grapes get a gentle pressing before fermenting with indigenous yeasts. Stored in barrels (20%new oak), the wine was bottled on 11/17/2020, fined but not filtered. Almost 3,500 bottles were produced.
About the grape
Pinot Noir is an ancient grape from eastern France. Notoriously challenging, it thrives in cooler climates. The concept of terroir is most closely identified with Burgundy because the lightness of Pinot Noir enables it to so transparently express minor differences (which is why experienced tasters can discern the difference in wines produced from vineyards in very close proximity). Intense popularity resulted in plantings all over the world but most agree that its finest expression is in the Côte d’Or of Burgundy.
Nicolas' view of the vintage
The 2019 vintage confirms the climatic upheaval we have known since the beginning of this century. The start of the vegetative cycle has become early, thanks to temperatures worthy of May. The buds began their growth in the third week of March, exposing the vine to a high risk of spring frosts. April was very hot, allowing rapid growth of the vines. At the very beginning of June, the first flowers appeared. The summer was marked by two heat waves in mid-June and mid-July causing significant water stress. Rainfall in August allowed the vines to regain sufficient feeding capacity and veraison began in early August. We gave the first cuts on September 14 and finished on September 25. The harvest was of very high quality and maturity. The grapes have been sorted and most of our cuvées are in whole bunches. We vatted for around three weeks, followed by a one-year aging in barrels, mostly aged of one or two wines in order to preserve the complexity of the terroir that is expressed in our wines.
Suggested Glassware: Grassl Cru
Roche de Bellene was established in 2008 by Nicolas Potel. It is a diversified and global wine production and trading company. The company includes Domaine de Roche Bellene, which offers wines from estate owned vineyards in 10 different Côte d’Or appellations.
Maison Roche de Bellene is the company’s négociant arm. Potel and his team source grapes from respected and consistent sources throughout the Côte d’Or. All are very old vines from which Roche de Bellene produces white and red wines. Another part of the Maison operation is Collection Bellenum. In the first decade of the 2000’s, Potel began purchasing large quantities of outstanding wines from the personal cellars of 26 domaines, starting with 1959. A wine must be at least 10 years old to be included in this special collection. After extensive tasting to ensure the wines were sound and of high-quality, he offers them with his label. Some of the corks will reveal the seminal source.
Nico is the son of the legendary Volnay producer, Gerard Potel. In addition to learning “at home,” he trained at excellent estates in Australia, California and Burgundy. Potel is widely respected by his peers for his remarkable wine production talents, as well as his keen sense for sourcing grapes and wines.