During our last trip to France we discovered an incredible restaurant located at Ingrades de Touraine named ‘Vincent Cuisinier de Champagne’. During a memorable dinner Vincent suggested that we should try a bottle from Domaine de Bel Air, it was a Clos Nouveau 2010. Despite the young age of this wine we were stunned by the quality. The next day we decided to postpone our return to Hong Kong to go visit this estate.
Pierre Gauthier, the owner of the domaine de Bel Air welcomed us in his impressive old cave curved into the Tufa. These caves are really common in Loire valley, they were created when long ago French people used to extract tuffeaux (porous rock) from the ground. The tuffeaux was then used to create France’s famous castles. Nowadays these caves are mostly used to age wine as they provide the ideal natural environment- low and steady temperature, great humidity and light free environment.
Pierre Gauthier at the entrance to the Domaine’s cellar
Pierre’s great grand father started in 1880 with a farm, then a few years later he managed to purchase some land suitable for the vine that he planted after the phyloxera outbreak. Finally in the 70’s the family stopped their farming acivity to focus on winemaking only. Nowadays Pierre works with his son Rodolphe and daughter Sophie.
The domain has 18ha of cabernet franc mostly located in Benais and a bit in Restigné, all of their parcel has been organically farmed for more than 20 years and certified since 2000. The domaine produces some “vin de soif” that you can drink young and also deep cabernet franc that has good aging potential.
Jour de Soif 2015:
- Soil: 60% gravels and 40% clay
- Age: 20 years old vine
- 100% desteemed then sorted on sorting table
- A cold pre fermentation precedes another fermentation using indigenous yeast
- Slow fermention with few remontages for 8 days
- Aged on lies in stainless steel vat and bottled on next spring
A nice and refreshing wine with a great fruity taste. Something you would certainly drink young.
The following cuvées are made using this process:
Slow fermentation for 30 days with few pigeages and remontage.
The wine is then put in old barrels and demi-muids aged for 24 month in a Tuffeau cave. Finally wine is bottled without any filtration.
Les Vingt Lieux Dits 2014:
- Soil: Siliceous Clay
- South exposure
- 40 years old vines
- Blend of 20 different parcels
Nice and fresh cabernet with some black current aroma and good concentration . Fine, delicate and intense this wine shows great complexity.
Les Marsaules 2012:
- Soil: Mix of sand and chalk
- 60 years old vines
Deep and intense this wine provides some black current aromas as well as wild strawberries. Very well balanced with lovely fruity aromas, great complexity and long finish fresh and slightly spicy.
Grand Mont 2012:
- Soil: Clay and limestone
- South exposure
- 70 years old vines
Combination of blackberry and blueberry as well light spice smell. The mouth is fresh and elegant with pure and digest fruit. Great concentration and freshness and long finish. Great aging potential
Clos Nouveau 2011:
- Soil: Tuffeau and limestone
- 70 years old vines
- Size: 1h20 with 1h of vine
Deep and intense with some black current and gray pepper smell. Beautiful fruit on the mouth straight and delicate. Good balance between concentration and mineral freshness. Solid and elegant tannins with great finish. This wine can easily age 15 years
The Clos Nouveau is certainly the highlight of all the cuvées. Pierre bought the clos in 2005 when the vineyard was poorly farmed and maintained. The first vintage of Clos nouveau was in 2007 after Pierre and Rodolphe did some heavy work to refurbish the walls of the clos as well as the vineyard. The Clos Nouveau was a bit like a dream child for Pierre as during his childhood he used to walk by everyday on his way to school. When the Clos went for sale Pierre did everything he could to buy it.
Clos Nouveau before restoration
Meeting Pierre Gauthier was a unique experience. He is a strong character, passionate about wine and doing his best to deliver good wine. The result is in the glass as he makes some cracking wine! Following our visit at the domaine we agreed with Pierre that we would import his wine to Hong Kong and China. So stay tuned for the future arrival of Domaine de Bel Air wine!
- written by Paul Miller, Product Manager