Domaine de Bellivière, 2013 Update

It can only be four or five years since I first tasted through the wine portfolio of Eric Nicolas of Domaine de Bellivière. To be honest, at first glance I didn’t quite know what to make of them, with their cool structures, crystalline floral fruits and their dry (or sometimes not-so-dry) savoury purity. I certainly didn’t come up with as many appropriate adjectives as I have done in the previous sentence. I confess to being somewhat confused by the wines, the most uncompromising expression of ultra-cool climate Chenin Blanc I had ever encountered.

Then, when I returned to the wines over the following year or two, I began to understand them better. It was not so much a process of learning about the grape variety, or about the vineyards or cuvées. It was more to do with gathering some experience with what I regarded as a different style of Chenin Blanc, a style that reflected their northerly position within the Loire Valley, giving the wines an ultra-fine precision and wonderful nervosité.

Eric Nicolas, Domaine de Bellivière

Over the last couple of years, however, I have come to think of the wines of Eric Nicolas (pictured above) very highly indeed. These are not just wines that I now understand, or merely enjoy. They are wines – in some cases at least, as no portfolio is without its occasional ‘downs’ to even out the ‘ups’ – that light up my palate. He is, to my mind, on absolutely the same level as Richard Leroy and Mark Angeli, two of the most ‘cultish’ wine personalities in the Loire Valley. Like them, he works biodynamically. His wines are no less energising, and in recent vintages perhaps even more so. And yet he remains, in comparison to the followings enjoyed by Angeli and Leroy, both of whom could sell their production many times over, relatively unknown.

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