“A stellar domaine”*
Domaine Belle, based in the village of Larnarge, have an unbroken, 250-year, history in the area, yet they don’t stand still. Philippe Belle, now joined by his son Guillaume, is an innovative wine maker committed to his organically farmed vineyards and producing “some of the Northern Rhône’s best-kept secrets”*.
Philippe & Guillaume make wines which balance the modern with the traditional, they have rebuilt the winery, but farm organically and use a horse to work the vines. They have made a terrific set of wines in 2018, from the rich, early drinking Pierrelles to the firm, structured Cuvee Roche Pierre, and the full bodied, powerful Hermitage. Full details on the wines below, and below that, some more info on Philippe and his domaine.
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All wines also available In Bond should you prefer.
Crozes-Hermitage Les Pierrelles 2018
£115.80 per six bottles
(£19.30 per bottle inc VAT, normally £22.50)
Les Pierrelles comes from terraced vineyards in the communes of Mercurol and Pont d’Isere, where galets roulés, large stones polished by the Rhône, sit on top of red clay soils and give wines of body and intensity with silky tannins that show well young. No new oak.
“The 2018 Crozes Hermitage les Pierrelles made for a great start to my visit at this standout estate. It’s grapey and intense, with hints of cedary wood accenting blueberry and blackberry fruit. It’s full-bodied and supple, finishing lush and even a bit warm. It should be a lot of fun to drink as a young wine.”*
Crozes-Hermitage Cuvée Louis Belle 2018
£139.20 per six bottles
£23.20 per bottle inc VAT (normally £28.75)
From white limestone clay known as kaolin, only found in the Larnage commune in Crozes. This soil allows the vines to send their vines a long way down and does well in hot vintages. It gives a powerful, intense style of wine. The balance in 2018 is terrific, and this looks set to develop well in the cellar. 15% new oak.
“The 2018 Crozes Hermitage Cuvee Louis Belle displays notes of cedar, vanilla, sawdust and baking spices. Yet backing up the wood is a wine that’s full-bodied and rich, with concentrated plum and licorice notes that come through on the lengthy finish.”*
Crozes Hermitage Cuvée Roche Pierre 2018
£249.00 per six bottles
(£41.50 per bottle inc VAT, normally £48.95)
Mostly from the commune of Crozes itself, and grown on granite, this is always a fine, structured wine which combine power with finesse. It ages gracefully and is best with a decade or more in the bottle. 30% new oak.
“Easily the equal to some Hermitages, Belle’s 2018 Crozes Hermitage Roche Pierre comes from the estate’s oldest Syrah vines, planted on granitic soils. It’s aged in up to 40% new oak, but it has the fruit intensity and full-bodied richness to measure up. Crushed stone, pencil shavings and mocha notes accent blueberries, licorice and black olives in this impeccably balanced and complex offering.”*
St Joseph Les Rivoires 2018
£267.60 per six bottles
(£44.60 per bottle inc VAT, normally £51.95)
This vineyard sits on granite and marries power with a surprising delicacy and freshness. Recent bottles of the 2011 and 2013 show the potential here; this ages brilliantly, developing complex notes of iron and game with time in the bottle, but never losing its purity of fruit. The 2018 is exceptional, well balanced, and full of energy, it will age well and is best drunk from 6-15 years-old.
£405.00 per six bottles
(£67.50 inc VAT per bottle, normally £78.95)
The Belle Hermitage comes from the limestone, sand, and gravel of Les Murets which accounts for its rich seamless character and deep power. It drinks well relatively early when its pure fruit is to the fore. Its sheer concentration means it quickly absorbs its 50% new oak, releasing a wave of complexity and this will drink well from 2025-2035+.
“Belle’s 2018 Hermitage is dark, intense and smoky, with mocha and roasted-meat accents to the concentrated blueberry and plum fruit. Full-bodied, packed and powerful, it’s another blockbuster Hermitage from the family’s parcels in Les Murets and Péléat.”*
*Joe Czerwinski, The Wine Advocate, January 2020