Profile: Belleville & Château Commaraine

Update 28.12.2020(26.12.2019)billn

Charles Nebout & Jean-Luc Vitoux, 2019Tasted in Rully with Charles Nebout & Jean-Luc Vitoux, 12 November 2018

Domaine Belleville
71150 Rully
Tel: +33 3 85 91 06 00

Domaine Belleville has been in existence since the early 1900s, named after the family who were owners. Belleville were a significant producer of Rully and Mercurey with a domaine over 45 hectares. Yet from about 2000 the domaine suffered from financial issues that led to parcels of vines being sold.

For a time the remaining part of the domaine was rescued by a Swiss purchaser – the Dumont family. They made some investments that started the turnaround in the vines, aided by their hiring of a new, young, winemaker in 2011, this was Charles Nebout. The Dumonts had a number of investments in Burgundy, but decided in 2017 to re-sell Domaine Belleville to an American couple – Mark Nunnelly and Denise Dupré, who, were also owners of Leclerc Briant in Champagne. Nunnelly and Dupré soon followed up this purchase by buying the Château du Commaraine and it’s 3.75 hectare clos of vines in Pommard, where they also plan to open a 27 room luxury hotel and restaurant, sometime in 2021.

The current winery of Belleville was bought in May 2017 as Nunnelly and Dupré had bought the domaine but not the old house in Rully. The winery is large and functional and seems closer to Mercurey to me than Rully – but I digress… The domaine today has 22 hectares, of which, 18 are currently in production. The vines are predominantly in Rully with 10 hectares, plus Mercury with 5 hectares. There are also 2 hectares of vines in the Côte de Nuits & Côte de Beaune.

Belleville started the process of certification for organic viticulture in 2018 – from 21 parcels they make 21 wines – “parcellaire is what we are about,” says Charles. “We really want to make wines that reflect their terroir. Labelling the 2020 vintage with certification is planned. We limit the number of passes in the vines. All the grapes are hand-harvested, pressed, decanted and fermented in barrel for whites. 12 kg cases are used to collect the grapes. We mainly destem for the reds but have some tests too. It’s a low sulfur approach during elevage, all movements of wine only by gravity. We use about 25% new oak for the whites, up to 30% for the reds.

Regarding the domaine’s new approach to distribution “It’s still early,” says Jean-Luc, “Currently about 40% is exported, but 50 is the short-term target.

Jean-Luc on Pommard 1er Clos de la Commaraine – Monopole
The Château Commaraine was bought in October 2017, the grapes went to Jadot beforehand. Two vineyard workers remain – the previous owners always did the work in here. The team here are also changing to organic in these vines in 2018. We made a soil analysis throughout the Clos too, which helped in sub-diving the area into 8 parcels with different maturities – which were not all harvested on the same day in 2019. Elevage for each parcel is kept separate, and we use the same proportions (and sourcing) of oak for each to keep our learning to the maximum. From this 3.75 hectares during elevage we made three triages through the barrels, discarding (selling) those that we were less happy with, but we eventually kept something less than 30 barrels for ‘grand vin’ but there’s no second wine.

Charles on 2018:
We have lots of cuvées here, and 2018 had a high pressure from mildew and it was also our first organic vintage in conversion so I would say that it was complicated – but in the end happy with the result!*

The wines…

The style of the reds here is elegant in this 2018 vintage – though the oak is rather obvious in many of the cuvées today – and not just the reds. There is much style here and 2018 should eat the oak quite effectively. The Pommard Clos de la Commaraine is an important new wine and I admire many of the facets of this cuvée, but it’s too early (for me) to be a buyer yet…

2018 Rully Les Chauxchaux
Modest colour. An inviting nose, high toned, slightly menthol. Round, open, delicious is the first impression, a little herby in the middle. But this is beautifully textured, composed wine.

2018 Mercurey Champ Ladoy
A touch more colour. A more spiced style of fruit here. More direct, showing some oak spice in the flavour, but no herb. I like the drive but wait for the oak influence to fade. It’s a fine finish!

2018 Mercurey Perrières
This to be bottled soon
A wider nose, just a little more depth to this fruit. The oak is showing here too – a reductive style. But super shape and texture along with nice structure. I like, but wait for the oak once more.

2018 Rully 1er Chapitre
A nose of width and an impression of concentrated fruit below. Ooh – fine, lovely direction and again texture. The energy is quite good and I really like the open but concentrated presentation – excellent.

2018 Mercurey 1er Clos Eveque
A tighter nose but with plenty of red berry. More insistent, the apparent acidity is higher, the oak in a slightly reductive style again. Once more, open and interesting With a super length like the last.

2018 Santenay Les Hâtes
A little more colour. This nose has a beguiling purity of darker fruit – yes! Drive, line, freshly concentrated, the oak showing a little but wait 12 months and it will be fine – the texture and depth of flavour are top – bravo!

2018 Chambolle-Musigny
In Drazey
A little darker colour. The nose needs a little work to release some pretty high tones. Sleek, fresh, lovely energy. The flavour is less affected by the oak – though it’s still present. Dark-fruited, fresh and tasty.

2018 Pommard 1er Clos de la Commaraine
Bottling planned for the end of the year
Not a nose of power to start, but one of fine width and a subtle, airy spice. Here is concentration on the palate, here is also a super texture. The oak is in a slightly similar style to previous wines in the middle, but it’s a reductive style of oak that won’t last. Here is certainly finesse, I’d like a little more energy, but this is partly down to their first vintage and the vintage itself. It’s a wine that needs a touch more vivacity than it shows today – but the combination of concentration and elegance is obvious.

Les Blancs

2018 Rully La Perche
A full nose, round, with plenty of barrel. Concentrated but a nice incisive energy to start. Strong finishing too – it’s fine here. A little more energy would be nice, though.

2018 Mercurey La Vieille Grange
No oak, a ripe depth of fruit at the core. More energy, more open, ooh this is lovely – again fine textured. Delicious.

2018 Rully 1er La Cloux
A deep and also wide nose. Fine structure and open style – mineral, ripe citrus, good energy. Excellent wine…

2018 Rully 1er Pucelles
Lovely open nose of high tones – very inviting. More concentrated, a little oak showing, layered concentration but with good energy.

2018 Rully 1er Rabourcé
Here the oak is distracting on the nose. Nice in the mouth, fine grains of complexity, faintly saline, of-course some oak. But slowly, attractively melting flavour in the finish. I like.

2018 Puligny-Montrachet Les Boudrières
A classy nose, the oak not distracting. Ooh – drive, minerality, yes-tension! Super texture, more energy would still be appreciated. But completely delicious wine!

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