Image Alt

Domaine de Bellivière Coteaux du Loir L’Effraie 2005

Domaine de Bellivière Coteaux du Loir L’Effraie 2005

I am stunned to see, looking back over many hundreds of instalments of my Weekend Wine posts, that I have never featured this cuvée from Eric Nicolas of Domaine de Bellivière before now. I consider Eric’s wines to be some of the most striking made in the entire Loire Valley, and as time has gone on I find myself buying and drinking more and more of them, so you might imagine that by now I have cast my Monday spotlight onto every cuvée, perhaps in multiple vintages. But it turns out not to be the case. Time to put that right, I think, especially as drinking one bottle makes room for another more recent vintage to be squirreled away in the cellar. I really have reached a one-bottle-in, one-bottle-out situation these days.

As regular readers will know, Domaine de Bellivière is found in one of the few isolated appellations to be found north of the Loire. Most of the appellations on the north side hug the banks of the river, while those to the south are more scattered, in most cases situated along major tributaries such as the Cher, Indre or Vienne, which all feed into the river from the south side. The north side does not have such an impressive network of tributaries, but one viticulturally significant river is the Loir, which meanders its way westwards and eventually feeds into the Loire via the Sarthe and the Maine, after it has passed through the centre of Angers. Along the course of the Loir, roughly north of Vouvray, lie the vineyards of the Coteaux du Vendômois, Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir appellations. It is in the latter two that Eric works.

Domaine de Bellivière Coteaux du Loir L'Effraie 2005

The style chez Nicolas is one of crystalline-cool fruit with a laser-like precision to the structure, only softening as it evolves with age. In the Coteaux du Loir appellation, L’Effraie (which translates as the barn) is the entry-level cuvée (although, tasting the wine here, you certainly wouldn’t think it). The vines are young (the fruit of the old vines goes into the superb Vieilles Vignes Éparses cuvée), the eventual wine an assemblage from six parcels. The fruit is harvested at 35 hl/ha (although, being organic, this figure can plummet in this northern clime) and fermented in barrel, including a small proportion of new oak, with élevage in same for at least a year. Both cuvées can, in my experience, provide a striking drinking experience. Domaine de Bellivière is one where I think it is worth buying and drinking across the range, rather than trying to restrict oneself to only the top cuvées, because stunning surprises await you at all levels.

The 2005 Coteaux du Loir L’Effraie from Domaine de Bellivière has, at a little over twelve years of age, a bright lemon-gold hue in the glass. There follows a simply fabulous nose; I came to it expecting to find some oxidation, but I was getting confused with the 2005 Jasnières Les Rosiers, another of Eric’s wines which I have tucked away in the cellar, which has always shown a curiously advanced, oxidised style (proof that no winemaker hits the bull’s eye with every throw of the dart). In fact what I found was a sweet, complex and expressive aromatic profile, filled with the evolved scents of toasted nuts, praline, apricot and grilled orange zest. The palate feels very full, plush yet composed, yet it is also tingling with acidity, giving the wine a very correct rather than strident character, but certainly bringing a soft sense of balance to it. In terms of flavour profile there is a lightly toasted note of nut to it, but overall it feels bright, fresh and evolved, pure and with no hint of adverse oxidation. The finish feels pure and cool, yet ample in terms of weight and texture, and it is long, and laced with a dry bitterness. This is a truly impressive wine; I only wish I had a few more bottles. 18/20 • 96/100 (11/12/17)

Find Domaine de Bellivière Coteaux du Loir L’Effraie 2005 on Wine Searcher:

Find all Domaine de Bellivière wines on Wine Searcher: