Domaine Belluard is one of the leading biodynamic producers in the Savoie. The vineyards of this region lie high in the mountains and are not very far from the famous ski fields of the beautiful village of Chamonix. They are also quite close to the Swiss border.
We first met Dominique Belluard when we were lucky enough to attend a small, private tasting of Savoie biodynamic wines from some of the top producers in the area and the white wines made by Dominique near the village of Ayse were a standout of the tasting. These are pure, elegant wines of great complexity and finesse. We know that you will love them!
This domaine practices organic and biodynamic viticulture, uses no pesticides or herbicides in the vineyard and no additives in the winemaking process. The grapes are fermented using only the naturally occurring yeasts.
The vineyards which Dominique tends so carefully lie in an old glacial valley where the rocks were ground down by the constantly moving ice to form iron-rich soils (the name of one of his cuvees is Le Feu).
It is with great sadness that we learned Dominique died yesterday (17/6/2021). He was extraordinary vigneron who leaves a great legacy, not least of which is the recognition he gained for his beloved Gringet grape variety.
Domaine Belluard Vin de Savoie AOP Ayse Brut “Les Perles du Mont Blanc” 2017
The Les Perles du Mont Blanc is a lovely sparkling wine made from 100% Gringet, a traditional grape of the Savoie region.
Dominique is a master of the art of making sparkling wine and his wine shows that complex, fresh, mineral-driven sparkling wines can be made outside the Champagne region.
This wine is left for two years on lees before it is disgorged thus adding to the complexity of the wine.
It displays both finesse and minerality and can be drunk as an aperitif or throughout a meal and even with dessert if required. It is a fine sparkling wine. The alcohol level is 12.5%.
This quote is from the highly regarded Chambers Street wine shop in New York:
This bottling is richer than in years past, but still intensely mineral with heady aromas of pine forest, baking spice, and toasted walnuts. The palate is decadent, with creamy flavors of pear, wildflower honey, nutmeg and bright lemon curd. The invigorating acidity makes this a versatile, food-friendly wine to pair with roasted chicken, oysters, charcuterie, or cheese.
This sparkling gem is poured at a number of leading restaurants throughout Australia.
RRP: $60 (1 bottle maximum)
Domaine Belluard Vin de Savoie AOP Ayse Mont-Blanc Methode Traditionnelle Brut-Zero 2016
A lovely sparkling wine made from 100% Gringet, a traditional grape of the Savoie region and nominated as a grape for sparkling and still wines in the Vin de Savoie Ayse appellation. It displays both finesse and minerality and can be drunk as an aperitif or throughout a meal and even with dessert if required. It is a fine sparkling wine. This wine is matured for longer than the standard Brut.
Here is what Tim Gagnon from Chambers Street Wines in New York had to say about this lovely wine:
Made from Gringet grown at 450m in elevation, this is serious stuff. It spends three years on the lees which results in a rich and textured wine, with delicate aromatics. Orange blossom, pear skin, and granny smith apple rise from the glass, while the palate is much more mineral. It is quite powerful, and would give any Champagne a run for the money in terms of complexity.
Domaine Belluard Vin de Savoie AOP Mondeuse 2019
Dominique Belluard is well known for making clean, elegant, expressive white wine from the rare Gringet grape.
However, he is constantly restless and has a deep, enquiring mind which makes him seek new challenges and explore new (old?) techniques in winemaking. He also has a small parcel of the red Mondeuse grape variety in his Ayse vineyards.
Although he used to make this wine in amphora, this vintage he has changed back to his beloved concrete eggs which stand about 8 feet high. The grapes are hand-picked and 70% of the harvest was destemmed and the remainder whole bunch. It was left on skins for five weeks, which is a long time, but the results show that it was a good call by Dominique.
This wine is silky and supple with a beautiful mouthfeel.
If you are not familiar with the Mondeuse grape variety it is nicely summarised by Los Angeles wine guru Lou Amdur relating a conversation he had with importer Charles Neal:
“The importer Charles Neal, once described mondeuse to me as the intersection between gamay (juicy, infused), Loire cabernet franc (petrichor) and northern Rhône syrah (black olive, bacon), and he’s not wrong.”
RRP: $102 (1 bottle maximum)
Domaine Belluard Vin de Savoie Blanc Gringet Les Alpes 2019
This beautiful white wine is made from 100% Gringet, a traditional, indigenous grape of the Savoie region.
Although this grape is sometimes said to be a variant of Savagnin that thrives in the nearby Jura, it has been clearly demonstrated through DNA analysis that there is no relationship between the grapes.
Gringet is commonly used to make sparkling wines in this area but Dominique Belluard also crafts fine, elegant white wines such as this from this grape that thrive in the calcareous glacial moraines that line his valley. Grapes from two parcels are used for this wine. The first parcel close to Dominique’s house has a base of marl and the other is rich in limestone.
The grapes are directly pressed and the juice is fermented with only indigenous yeast in several concrete eggs where it stays for about 6 months. The contents of all the eggs are then blended in stainless steel tanks prior to bottling. A small amount of sulphites are added at this stage.
The alcohol level is 12.5%.
Here is what Christophe Guitard, founder of Ochato.com, has to say about the sensation of tasting a Savoie wine like Domaine Belluard’s Les Alpes.
“It’s made up entirely of Gringet, of which only 50 acres (22 hectares) exist. If you are epicurean and curious, you want to taste this mysterious, extremely rare varietal, which moreover creates something unlike any classic wine, with notes of smoke and jasmine. It’s so atypical you easily lose yourself in it.”
Domaine Belluard Vin de Savoie Blanc Gringet Le Feu 2019
The Le Feu is perhaps our favourite of this stunning line up of wines. It is particularly elegant and refined with the late-maturing grapes being selected from very old, low-yielding vines in the Le Feu vineyard which has very steep slopes. The vines grow in iron-rich clay soils at 450 metres above sea level. The alcohol level is 12%.
There are floral and fruity elements on the nose, and in the mouth you will detect citrus fruits and white peaches with a minty note that gives it freshness and minerality as well as refinement and balance.
Dominique Belluard has now achieved his ambition to ferment his best wines in concrete ‘eggs’ – large ovoids that he believes allow the fermentation to proceed in a more harmonious way.
This wine teams well with all types of seafood but also goes very well with chicken and quail and a range of fresh cheeses.
RRP: $102 (2 bottles maximum)
Domaine Belluard Roussette de Savoie AOP Les Grandes Jorasses 2019
This elegant macerated (orange) wine (previous vintages have been white wines) made from the local Savoie grape called Altesse or, sometimes, Roussette de Savoie (see back label below) which is also the official name of the appellation under which this wine is issued.
The vineyard from which this wine is made is relatively young and lies at an altitude of 450 metres above sea level with the vineyard facing south and hence receiving better sunlight for ripening of the grapes.
The vineyard is littered with glacial moraine (sediment) and underlying yellow marl.
The grapes are hand-harvested and then macerated on stems for a month, thus producing an orange wine. The wine, like all of Dominique’s wines was fermented naturally and the natural yeasts took four months to ferment this wine out to dry. The alcohol level is 12.5%.
The wine went through malolactic fermentation, was not filtered and no sulphites were added at any time.
It is named after the Grandes Jorasses mountain – one of the highest peaks in the Alps bordering France and Italy.
Domaine Belluard Vin de Savoie Blanc 100% Pur Jus 2019
This is another excellent cuvée for Dominique Belluard. In the past he has had a number of releases of Pur Jus made from the local Gringet grape variety, however once, in 2018, he departed from this tradition and used the local Altesse grape variety instead. This year he is back to Gringet!
The vineyard from which the Gringet was manually harvested lies at 420 metres above sea level on steep slopes that we find hard to walk up. The slope faces south so is good for ripening and the soil is covered in small limestone pebbles ( petits cailloux) with a limestone sub-structure.
Even though Dominique is macerating some of his white wines now, this one was direct pressed after hand harvesting. the juice was transferred to an egg-shaped 600 litre concrete vessel and the natural fermentation took 4 months to complete.
This is a delightfully floral, beautifully coloured, light wine that can be drunk as an aperitif. It also pairs beautifully with a wide range of foods.
Finally, as an added bonus and as always with the Pur Jus cuvée, no sulphites have been added to this wine.