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Domaine de Bellivière, Jasnières “Calligramme”Loire Valley, France 2019 (750mL)

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Domaine de Bellivière, Jasnières “Calligramme” Loire Valley, France 2019 (750mL)

Fruit
Earth
Body
Tannin
Acid
Alcohol

SommSelect is entering its eighth year of offering some of the most sought-after wines in the world, so today’s obscure grail is a colossal achievement for us! For the first time, we are thrilled to showcase one of the most elusive domaine-appellation-cuvée combinations in the Loire valley: Domaine de Bellivière’s “Calligramme” from Jasnières. Please don’t be alarmed if all of these words sound foreign. Because, while Bellivière is a treasured name for “in crowd” European sommeliers, the estate’s wines only occasionally make restaurant cameos in the US. Wine writers hold the property in similarly reverential regard, with top publications describing them as (1) a “Grand Cru” property, (2) an “elite white wine practitioner” and (3) “one of the absolute reference points of the Loire Valley.” But the specific label on offer today elevates Bellivière’s talent and desirability into rarefied territory.


“Calligramme” is a special cuvée that utlizes their oldest biodynamic vines in the minuscule, Chenin-only appellation of Jasnières. It’s then raised naturally in premium French oak for 24 months before bottling. In the 2019 vintage, the result was a luxurious wine of Bâtard-Montrachet opulence, infinite depth, and profound Loire minerality. There’s a reason La Revue du Vin de France has called “Calligramme” one of the greatest whites in the world. The catch, as you might guess, is that it’s extremely challenging for US consumers to acquire these wines. Today’s your chance. The equivalent cellar potential, scarcity, cult-like following, and stellar quality would cost a fortune in Burgundy or Champagne, but in this concealed corner of the Loire valley, peerless excellence can be experienced for $75. 

NOTE: For Bellivière fanatics looking to complete the “dynamic duo,” their other old-vine bottling from neighboring Coteaux du Loir can also be purchased here



Following an education in enology, Eric Nicolas and his wife and partner in the vines and cellar, Christine, ventured to the most obscure and northerly sub-regions of the Loire Valley: Jasnières and the neighboring Coteaux du Loir (no “e” on the end of this completely distinct river). The two began Domaine de Bellivière in 1995 with a mere 3.5 hectares of fruit trees, grain, grazing lands for livestock, and a minimal amount of extremely old-vine Chenin Blanc. Since day one, the Nicolas family has farmed their property organically, before gradually transitioning to biodynamics and eventually receiving an Ecocert certification in 2011. Today, the Nicolas family is recognized as one of the most respected and uncompromising family estates in the entire Loire Valley.


The dominant soil type at Bellivière is tuffeau (soft limestone) and flint, and the family’s deep limestone cellar is perfect for fermenting and storing wine without temperature control. There are no glycol-chilled tanks or electric pumps at Bellivière. Everything is cooled or heated by nature and all wine flows via gravity; this is a natural operation! “Calligramme” comes from the family’s oldest vines (~70 years) in Jasnières, a micro-AOC planted to 75 total hectares. The biodynamic grapes are hand-harvested and meticulously sorted prior to entering the cellar. The fruit is slowly pressed over seven hours and fed into 500-liter French barrels to begin an ambient fermentation. After two full years in oak, the wine is bottled with minimal sulfur. 


Because Eric Nicolas allows nature to control his wines, “Calligramme” is always the product of its vintage. In 2019, that meant 15.5 grams of residual sugar, putting this Chenin Blanc in sec-tendre (“off-dry”) territory. DO NOT mistake this for a sweet wine though. This is round, luscious, and packed with fantastically broad orchard fruits that dance across your tongue thanks to superb acidity. Simply put, few Chenin Blancs on the planet possess such unique character, depth, clarity, and opulence. Alongside perfectly chiseled minerality and lip-smacking freshness, your palate will be blessed with a bushel of ripe yellow apple, tangerine, and stone fruit alongside honey, apricot liqueur, exotic ginger, chamomile, lanolin, and white tea aromatic fireworks.


Bellivière whites are renowned for their cellaring potential. I’ve enjoyed bottles from the mid-2000s that were overflowing with secondary aromas and rich, honeyed texture, still, their expiration date was nowhere in sight! I expect the same for today’s 2019 “Calligramme,” but please do enjoy one now. Simply pull the cork, and savor slowly around 50-55 degrees in bulbous stems. 




Domaine de Bellivière, Jasnières “Calligramme” Loire Valley, France 2019 - SommSelect

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionLoire Valley
  • Sub-RegionJasnières
  • SoilTuffeau
  • FarmingCertified Biodynamic
  • BlendChenin Blanc
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • Oak500L French Barrels, 30% New

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionLoire Valley
  • Sub-RegionJasnières
  • SoilTuffeau
  • FarmingCertified Biodynamic
  • BlendChenin Blanc
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • Oak500L French Barrels, 30% New
  • Temp.Serve at 50-55° F
  • GlasswareBurgundy Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2034+
  • DecantingOptional
  • PairingPan-Seared Halibut w/ Miso Sauce