This small vineyard, from ‘the cradle of the appellation’ in Philippe’s words, 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.
About the 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 sons Guillaume & Valentin, is an innovative wine maker committed to his organically farmed vineyards and producing “some of the Northern Rhône’s best-kept secrets”*.
Yves Gras of Santa Duc and Philippe Belle are great friends and it was through Yves we were introduced to Domaine Belle. Ironically their wines could not be more different in style. The Belle family can trace their history in the village of Larnarge back to 1769, when the local feudal lord granted them a plot of land to farm. The family have farmed this land ever since, through political and social upheaval and unimaginable change. In the 1930s Louis Belle was instrumental in setting up the Tain l’Ermitage Co-operative, and the family’s grapes were sent there until the 1990s, when Louis’ son, Albert, and grandson, Philippe, began to produce the wines for themselves.
Philippe has been in charge since 2003, and in that time has converted the domaine to organic viticulture, modernised the winery, moved back to natural yeast fermentations and reduced the use of new oak. His vineyards lay on numerous soil types, from alluvial clay to almost pure granite. The effect these soils types have on the wines is profound. Philippe’s skilful working of his Syrah, both in the vineyard and winery, emphasises each vineyards character, and leaves a suave and measured feel in the mouth, utterly pleasurable in its roundness and depth of tarry fruit. He has built a reputation for producing wines which combine finesse with the wild, dark flavours that syrah is famous for. They age well, their concentration and balance is impeccable. With his sons Guillaume & Valentin now part of the team they continue to improve and innovate, aiming to produce wines amongst the finest in the area.