Domaine Caroline Bellavoine, Bourgogne Rouge
Domaine Caroline Bellavoine, Bourgogne Rouge

Domaine Caroline Bellavoine, Bourgogne Rouge

Burgundy, France 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$42.00

Domaine Caroline Bellavoine, Bourgogne Rouge

Starting from scratch is always tough, and it is even tougher when you want to break into the life of a vigneron in France. But to try and establish yourself in Burgundy, as a woman who grew up in Paris and had no family connections in the region, well, that should be downright impossible. Yet that is exactly what Caroline Bellavoine did, and by all accounts she is thriving. Exhibit A of her success is today’s classy, and classically styled Bourgogne Rouge from vineyards that surround her humble domaine in the Côte du Couchois. We taste a lot of Bourgogne, but it has been a very long time since we encountered one that has a near perfect balance of silky red fruit, savory earth, and a long, mineral-laden finish. Oh, and it has incredible aromatic complexity to boot! A precise and very pleasurable Pinot Noir from a highly talented, scrappy up and comer is the kind of feel good story that is only enhanced by actually pulling a cork on one of these limited bottles (total production of less than 200 cases). Don’t miss out!

Caroline Bellavoine grew up in Paris and was well along a successful career path there when she came to the realization that her real passion was for wine, and that her job had nothing to do with that. So she gathered up her savings and went to scout out small domaines to purchase in Burgundy. Simple, right? If only. Breaking into the insular world of winemaking in France is never easy, since familial and cultural traditions take precedence and inheritance is the name of the game, but Burgundy is a whole different ball game. This is some of the most expensive agricultural land on the planet, where some small plots are worth their weight in gold. And as such there is very little incentive to sell to outsiders that don’t have the resources equivalent to a small nation state, and even if you do have pockets that deep, the answer is still usually “no.” So Caroline looked around at the edges, in appellations that don’t have a ton of built in pedigree, and that is where she discovered a small estate in the tiny village of Saint-Sernin-du-Plein, in the obscure appellation of Côte du Couchois. 

The Couchois region is about a 30 minute drive southwest from Beaune, but in terms of global familiarity, it is much further away. It is nestled in rolling hills close to where the Côte Chalonnaise hits the border with the Côte de Beaune, and it has a little secret, too. While the soils are dominantly limestone under clay, like most of Burgundy, there is also a small but significant amount of schist in some vineyards. Indeed, one of the parcels that Caroline uses for her Bourgogne Rouge has a high percentage of schist, which lends an airy lightness to the more classically structured parcels. An added bonus is that most of the vines in these parcels are around 50 years old. It’s a happy coincidence that her style for elegant, soft-touch wines plays perfectly into the small amount of vineyards she was able to purchase back in 2007 while she was completing oenology school.

Caroline’s primary passion is her vines, and farming is why she left the big city and came to this tiny country hamlet. She works naturally, without chemicals, and loves spending most of her time in the vineyards. In the cellar she is very gentle, using a similar approach to her farming, which means little to no additions or adjustments. The Bourgogne Rouge is fermented with native yeasts and then is moved to two year old barriques for an undisturbed elevage of 18 months. Serve this almost impossibly pretty Pinot in a large Burgundy stem at around 55-60 degrees, after a brief decant to help open up the aromatics. The color is vibrant ruby red with a hint of pink, and a bevy of crunchy red fruits awaits: Bing cherries, strawberries, red currants, and a touch of cranberry are all accented by savory notes of earth, morels, dried roses, and fresh mint. It’s lifted and soft enough for tuna or salmon tartare, but also has just enough power and structure for a diner-style burger. And since you may be needing a break from classic holiday meals, below is a recipe for a classic Juicy Lucy. Some sumptuous Red Burgundy and that indulgent burger is just what you need this time of year!

Domaine Caroline Bellavoine, Bourgogne Rouge

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