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Domaine de Bellivière Coteaux du Loir Haut Rasné 2002

Sadly I don't have time as much time to browse or participate in online wine fora, groups, bulletin boards - or whatever they are called - as I used to. Running this site gives me a great deal of pleasure, but it is also very time consuming; this commitment, on top of my other work obligations, means there simply aren't many hours left in the day. Nevertheless, last Friday I was browsing several such sites as well as one or two blogs, both of which can be very informative. Reading the comments of one Parker acolyte in a very old thread, I was interested in his comment that stated "I've never tasted even a moderatly (sic) decent red Chinon".

Domaine de Bellivière Coteaux du Loir Haut Rasné 2002I don't know whether to be amused, disheartened or filled with joy at statements such as this. Firstly, amused, because coming from a very vocal lover of right bank (and left bank, I suppose) wines I thought it showed a surprising lack of knowledge of the potential of wine regions more than a few kilometres from the Gironde. Secondly, disheartened, as I find it perhaps a touch saddening that despite the fabulous efforts made by a cohort of winemakers such as Bernard Baudry and Philippe Alliet, some can still summarily dismiss, quite assertively, an entire appellation with such a broad and grossly inaccurate intimation. Lastly, however, perhaps I should be pleased? I do not wish financial hardship on any vigneron, but whilst the wines of the Loire remain unappreciated and undiscovered by so many, they will continue to provide those in the know with superb drinking in a variety of styles. And whilst the more famous appellations of the region, such as Chinon, remain unloved by some, it seems almost certain that the more obscure wines of the region - from atypical producers such as the fabulously elegant wines of Clos Rougeard in Saumur, or from even more isolated and obscure appellations such as Jasnières and the Coteaux du Loir - will remain affordable and obtainable.

This week's wine is from what is perhaps the leading domaine in the Coteaux du Loir appellation, namely Domaine de Bellivière, which is run by Eric Nicolas. His 2002 Haut Rasné has a rich, golden hue. The nose displays a smoky, botrytis richness, with notes of baked apples swirled in cream and something that resembles honey spread on brown bread. Fleshy rather than sweet on the palate, but not over-the-top. It has a very broad character, a decisive and deep flavour, and a fine, tingling acidity. A sparky, white pepper nuance provides a defining focus, surrounded by elements more typical of Chenin, such as notes of straw or hay. There is an appealing sourness to it all, with a mouth-watering backbone of acidity and a harmonious composition, and a really good length too. There is plenty to interest any drinker of Loire wines here, and I suspect it would give more with a few years in the cellar. Very good indeed. 17.5+/20 (3/12/07)

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