D&P Belluard “Le Feu” 2009

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Get ready for your next great wine discovery. Sub-alpine wine made with the ancient and nearly extinct variety, Gringet.

Dominique Belluard owns an estate in Ayse in the foothills of the French Alps and grows exclusively Gringet. Only 22 hectares of Gringet grapes exist in the world. 12 of those hectares belong to Belluard. Gringet is a unique variety that researchers have not connected with any other in the world, thus suggesting it is quite ancient and possibly pre-dating the Roman influence in the region.

Belluard is also an experimenter and near-naturalist. Practicing biodynamics, Belluard has moved from fermenting in wood and steel to fermenting completely in concrete eggs and amphora. He feels this allows him to bring out the unique quality of each of his parcels.

The Singular Obscure

This is paradigm altering wine and proves that indigenous varieties and extreme terroirs are capable of producing singular and site-specific expressions of aroma and flavour that are as nuanced and exciting as the world’s greatest. Of course, many obscure varieties and unique terroirs produce nothing of interest. Thus, the trick is to find the ones that matter.

This is no easy task and a feet accomplished by very few importers. Belluard was discovered by Garagiste in seattle and eventually brought in by a few other importers (including Selection Massale in SF). I believe these wines are now gaining traction – but so little is produced that I recommend snapping it up if you see it.

The “Le Feu” is made with Belluard’s oldest vines in his best vineyard (with maximum sun exposure) and is grown on iron rich clay. Sulfur addition is minimal. Elevage is in concrete eggs. Le Feu is only made in the best vintages.

Le Feu is a wine laden with incense – I have never encountered such a unique aroma of singed mountain herbs before. Coupled with a waxy and honeyed character and some density from extended lees aging, this wine is also tremendously mineral focused. Clean and transparent, yet deeply intellectually engaging – a rarity, especially at its price point. In my opinion, this is an incredible wine that is a must for geeks and lovers of tremendously characterful whites.

$37 at Arlequin in SF


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