Our Tasting Impressions
Having learned well how Tressallier can elevate Chardonnay, this Blanc de Blancs sparkler was welcomed with great anticipation. It has depth and weight from Chardonnay and the cut, lift and energy from Tressallier. A delightful aperitif with quite an elegant mousse that might just cause Champagne producers to steal some of Saint Pourçain's unique vines. Yum!
About this wine
A blend of Chardonnay and Tressallier to produce a méthode traditionelle Blanc de Blancs. All aspects of production are performed at Domaine de Bellevue.
About the grape blend
Chardonnay, believed to have originated in Burgundy, is grown everywhere and is the most popular wine variety in the US. Winemakers love the green-skinned grape as well because it’s so easy to grow and adapt to many different production techniques.
Despite its popularity, Chardonnay is viewed by some as lacking in acidity, too buttery and tending to be flabby. In fairness, these characterizations often have more to do with the practice of malolactic fermentation and/or oak aging - both common in Chardonnay production.
Tressallier is a little known grape exclusive to Saint-Pourcain, though it is grown as well in northern Burgundy, where it's called Sacy. It fell out of favor for quite some time. Even Domaine de Bellevue only resumed using it about 20 years ago. It grows in mid-sized clusters and the grapes are juicy and very acidic. It produces light, vivid and very fresh tasting wine that add cut and punch when paired with Chardonnay.
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.