2020 Domaine de Bellivière, Chenin Blanc “L’Effraie” Coteaux-du-Loir Blanc, Loire Valley, France.
The “L’Effraie” Coteaux-du-Loir Blanc by the Nicolas family, Eric, Christine and son Clement at Domaine de Bellivière is a luxurious, ripe and decedent Loire Valley 100% Chenin Blanc with an off dry feel, almost like the famous Domaine Huet Demi-Sec Vouvrays, showing golden apple, peach, quince paste and lemony citrus with subtle earthiness, a touch of raw honeycomb, wet chalky stones, crystallized ginger and a hint of herbal tea. The little bit of sweetness made it great with a Scallop Wellington (baked in brioche) and a Salmon Terrine with Caviar, dishes that had a sweet, briny and savory elements, and enough acidity to not feel heavy. I have had the Domaine de Bellivière wines a few times before, just not this “L’Effraie” (owl) bottling, usually their drier and more austere sélection massale Jasnières offerings, which I really enjoyed. The winery, interestingly also does a couple rare single varietal Pineau d’Aunis reds, a blend of 50% Gamay Noir and 50% Pineau d’Aunis, as well as two Rhône blends, Vin de France wines, from grapes grown in the Ventoux, which I have not tasted yet. The 100% Pineau d’Aunis bottlings, the Coteaux-du-Loir “Le Rouge Gorge” and the Coteaux du Loir “Hommage à Louis Derré” have a cult like following and are hard to get.
This Domaine de Bellivière Coteaux-du-Loir Chenin Blanc comes from biodynamic younger vines, under 50 years old, that are planted on a mix of clay and flint over classic tuffeau limestone. It is a blend of six different parcels spread through three communes, hence the Coteaux-du-Loir labelling. Each parcel has various types of clay and stony material that the winery says vary in size, from larger pebbles to fine sand, adding to the depth, concentration and mineral charm in this wine. The ripe Chenin Blanc grapes were direct-pressed and barrel-fermented with native yeasts and minimal sulfur, after which the wine is then aged in one to three year old 350L barrels with a small proportion of new oak for 8 to 10 months. The winery explains that each parcel is vinified and aged separately, then blended, lightly filtered and settled before bottling. Interestingly, the winemaker adds that, while fermentation is allowed to finish as dry as possible, this wine usually retains some residual sugar, as is the case here with this vintage, adding a hint of sweetness and a weighty texture with a finish at 14% natural alcohol, there’s loads of richness on the palate. The Bellivière owns and farms 60 small parcels in 5 villages across the Jasnières and Coteaux-du-Loir areas, and importer Louis/Dressner brings in a limited selection of cuvées, including a Chenin Blanc sparkler, all of which are unique Loire Valley wines, with the Jasnières “Les Rosiers” and this “L’Effraie” being ones I have liked best so far.
($38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive