Our Tasting Impressions
The 2013 Roche Grises continues to win fans and now we have the 2016. It is similarly angular and subtle. Because Jean-Louis holds these back post-bottling, it is gloriously earthy and evolved. If you like more overt fruit, look to Bellevue's other reds. But if you like a wine that emphasizes pure, unadorned vinosity, then this is the one for you (and me). Oh, and it doesn't hurt that it is such an amazing value.
About this wine
Sixty percent Pinot Noir and 40% Gamay from vines up to 40 years old planted in granite soil with yields of 35 hl/ha.
The juice of each grape is extracted through a pneumatic press, then separately vinified in steel tanks 15-18 days at controlled temperatures with pumping over twice a day. The wine is racked and filtered for sediment. Each vat is tasted and only the best selected. Half is aged in local Allier oak barrels (new, 1-year & 2-year) and half in tanks.
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-Louis reports near perfect conditions in 2016. The fruit was harvested in excellent health and at peak ripeness.
Suggested Glassware: Grassl Liberté
Domaine de Bellevue is one of the larger 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 - including winemaker Jean-Louis Pétillat who 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 terroir 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. There is evidence of Roman winemaking here as early as 50 BCE. 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 de-stems prior to the crush.
VDLT is the only North American source for Jean-Louis’ wines.