Domaine de Bellivière, 2016 Update

Eric Nicolas is not from winemaking stock. His first exposure to wine was at dinner with his grandfather, Lucien, who looked to Burgundy for his drinking. I wonder now, many decades on from those earliest encounters with the grape, just how much his grandfather’s preferred libation shaped Eric’s palate. When it comes to the wines Eric makes today, having tasted many of them from barrel and from bottle in their youth, and having cellared a good number of bottles for drinking in maturity, I find them defined by a crystal-clear, northern, cool-climate purity. It is hard to think of Eric developing such a style if he had been raised on turbo-charged high-alcohol powerhouse wines from France’s southern vineyards, from the Rhône Valley or the Languedoc, or even – fast-forwarding to modern times, rather than Eric’s youth – more modern wines from the right bank in Bordeaux.

Domaine de Bellivière

Eric Nicolas no doubt encountered many more bottles since those early palate-shaping days, nevertheless none really inspired him to take up winemaking. He had a good job working for a large petrochemical firm, and the thought of throwing all that in for the life of a vigneron was a long way from his mind. This is despite Eric’s undoubtedly artistic leanings. I have encountered more than a few vignerons over the years with an interest in art, its appreciation, or collecting, such as the Moueix family of Libourne who have an extraordinarily valuable collection, or indeed painting, the first example who springs to mind in this case being Charles Joguet, a graduate of the Ateliers Beaux Arts de Montparnasse in Paris. Eric, however, leans more towards poetry than painting; he is an avid consumer of prose, and the fact one of his top cuvées is named Calligramme is a pretty big clue to that.

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