A Visit to Domaine de Bellivière, 2023

It is quite a distance from my pied à terre south of Chinon up to the vineyards of Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir, requiring a good ninety minutes behind the wheel. So setting off for my 10am appointment at Domaine de Bellivière, I left with plenty of time in hand. Well, to be honest, I actually had the required ninety minutes, and no more. But on this warm, dry and sunny day, the cerulean sky above host to a barely a wisp of white cloud, what was the likelihood of delay? And just twenty minutes later, I had made it as far as the A10, and was heading north for Tours and, some distance beyond, the vineyards of Eric and Christine Nicolas, which today they run with their son Clément.

Well, that’s not quite true. I was on the A10 right enough, but stationary, in a line of gridlocked fogbound traffic. That magically blue sky had disappeared not long after my departure.

Domaine de Bellivière

Little blue combi-vans crammed full of gendarmes, an ambulance and fire engine hot on their heels, passed by in convoy. Their sirens wailed ever quieter as they were swallowed up by the foggy abyss ahead, and it dawned on me that I would probably be sitting here for some time. At least I was able to warn Eric Nicolas and family of my delayed arrival, whizzing off an email from my smartphone, and soon my mind began to wander. Things have moved on a lot since my first ever visit to the Loire in 1993, before smartphones and satellite navigation. Back then I found my way around using a printed road atlas (how quaint!) and road signs, and when I needed to use a phone (like that first time I broke down – and the second time too) I had to walk to a nearby fuel station or restaurant and beg to use theirs. As for email, that hadn’t even been invented. Or it wasn’t in widespread use, anyway.

Daydreaming about Loire trips past whiled away half an hour, and eventually the fog lifted, and we were underway once more. There was no accident, just roadworks, and I was left in the dark regarding the destination of all those emergency vehicles. In the end I arrived at the cellars of Domaine de Bellivière, dwarfed by surrounding trees, just thirty minutes behind schedule.

Domaine de Bellivière

So, was it worth the two hours spent behind the wheel?


This is a beautiful and unappreciated region of the Loire Valley, where Eric Nicolas and family make some stunning wines. Waiting to greet me were Christine Nicolas, and their son Clément. Before we get to that, however, I first provide a little background on the domaine.

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