Domaine Belargus

Domaine Belargus Anjou Noir 2020

R395

A delicate and finessed Chenin, great introduction to one of the Loire most exciting project!

Out of stock

Additional information

Additional information

Grape Variety

Chenin Blanc

Producer

Domaine Belargus

Product Type

White Wine

Vintage

2020

Wine Group

Boutique

Wine Occasion

Casual Entertainment

Wine Region

Loire Valley

Curated Selection

Top Rated, Organic & Biodynamic

Critics Top Rating

93 points

Story

Story

Belargus is essentially a wine lover’s dream come true. Domaine Belargus is an organic operation and has recently begun implementing biodynamic practices. These principles are being applied at Belargus by two pioneers of the region: Jo Pithon, who has advocated for organic farming for more than 30 years, and Guy Bossard (Domaine de l’Ecu in Muscadet), who has pioneered Biodynamic practices in the region for decades. This dream team is putting in every effort to rejuvenate some of France’s greatest vineyards.

At the origin of the project: the vision of a wine enthusiast, determined to restore the prestige of a thousand-year-old vineyard, in the heart of Anjou. Built stone by stone by Ivan Massonnat, the Estate is 100% dedicated to Chenin Blanc and explores the micro-terroirs of Anjou Noir in a single-plot approach inspired by the climats of Burgundy.

From the 11th century the hillsides of Anjou, stemming from a geological chaos from the primary era, were planted in vines by religious orders. Chenin reigned supreme there and, until the 19th century, Anjou wines were served on royal tables across Europe. Then came modern times. These brought so-called technical “innovations” and their share of historic vicissitudes, which impressed a profound change on this wine region, like many others in France. But this mosaic of millenary terroirs does remain, and Domaine Belargus has chosen to reveal all its facets through an unprecedented selection of grands crus, single-plots and monopoles.

On twenty-four hectares dedicated to the noble Chenin grape, the Estate cultivates some of the most renown terroirs in Anjou, in biodynamics. Its mission is to express their quintessence through a single-plot approach. Among its most remarkable plots:

  • The Quarts-de-Chaume (grand cru), centre of gravity of the Estate with ten hectares in one piece, centred around the three plots historically composing the appellation
  • The “Coteau des Treilles” (monopole), a wild and steep hillside, located in the heart of a classified “Regional Natural Reserve”
  • The “Clos des Ruchères” (monopole) in Savennières, planted on a rare hillside of purple schists

Respecting the vintage’s personality, Domaine Belargus produces each year a collection of dry white wines and, in exceptional years only, uses the magic of botrytis to create some sweet wines.

Ivan Massonnat fundamentally believes in the virtues of a collective approach: since inception the Belargus project has been designed as a team adventure, brining together young talents (notably winemaker Adrien Moreau and vineyard manager Amaury Chartier) and some iconic Loire pioneers (namely Jo Pithon and Guy Bossard).

A collective energy that also serves several regional projects, with him presiding the Paulée d’Anjou (an international event aimed at promoting the excellence of Anjou), or contributing to the efforts to get “Ronceray” (dry Chenin produced in the Quarts-de-Chaume area) officially recognised as a Cru.

 

Representing the Western part of Anjou, Anjou Noir («Black Anjou») is named after its subsoil. In contrast to
Anjou Blanc («White Anjou») laying on limestone in the Saumur area, Anjou Noir lays on schists soils from the
Armorican Massif. The ANJOU NOIR cuvée, resulting from a blend of four plots, representative of the overall Belargus
vineyards, is a pure transcription of Chenin growing on schists rocks.

Specifications

Specifications

Grape Variety – 100% Chenin Blanc

Vineyard planted from 1986 to 2008 with Chenin Blanc (on RGM, 1103 P. and Gravesac). Guyot poussard and cordon, Biodynamic (conversion)

Soil – Plateaux and hillsides, Loamy claiys on schists

Winemaking – With Indigeneous yeasts 15 months (on total lees) – Stainless steel tanks, demi-muids (600l) and barrels (228l), 5 years old on average. No fining, slight filtration. 0.8g RS / L.

 

 

Tasting Notes

Tasting Notes

ANJOU NOIR is a blend of plots located in the Layon Valley. The «La Fresnaye» terroir, vinified in barrels and
demi-muids, brings fruitness and roundness, while «Les Brosses», «La Gordonne» and «Les Piries» grant straightness
and minerality to this cuvée. Developping fruity and floral notes, this Chenin is typical of schists soils.

ANJOU NOIR will perfectly pair with roasted poultry, St-Jacques scallops with coral sauce or goat cheese.

Best served at 10-12ºC

Critic Ratings

Critic Ratings

Wine Advocate – 92-93 points

The sample of the 2020 Anjou Noir is an intensely yellow colored regional cuvée that “results from a blend of the domaine’s vines not being vinified from a single plot, providing a synthesis of the terroirs that gave rise to it (schists, pudding stones, etc.),” as Ivan Massonnat explains. Produced for the first time in 2019, this cuvée is aged in vats and barrels for a minimum of one year and represents the quintessence of Chenin cultivated on black schist. The 2020 needs a bit of time in the glass to open up, to refine and to exhibit its subtle, pure and refreshing schist aromas intermixed with ripe but delicate fruit (pear) aromas from white and yellow-fleshed fruits. On the palate, this is a light and beautifully balanced dry Chenin with a serious structure and lingering tannin grip and salinity. The wine is juicy but not overly fruity and already complex for the first wine of the range. A fabulous, rather delicate and finessed Chenin! Tasted in June 2021.

This is one of the most spectacular new entries in the history of The Wine Advocate, and it makes the Loire, especially its tributary, Layon, one of the most fascinating terroirs in the Anjou region. Domaine Belargus is the name that should soon populate the world’s finest wine lists, especially since the prices are—still?—affordable. After I asked Jo Pithon for samples for Pithon-Paillé, somewhere before Christmas last year, I instead received a letter from Ivan Massonnat. Jo had retired and forwarded my letter to Ivan, who took over the Pithon-Paillé estate in 2018 after years of looking for exceptional Chenin terroirs in the Loire Valley. In February 2018, Ivan, born in the Savoie region and working as an investor in Paris, fell in love with Coteau des Treilles, Jo’s life’s work, which was introduced to me far back in the early 2000s. “Then, to make the long story short,” Massonnat wrote, “the stars aligned and I was able to acquire some great terroirs in the area, notably 10 hectares in the Quarts-de-Chaume appellation, including the three plots listed in the original decree, and nearly three hectares in Savennières, including a small clos at the bottom of Roche-aux-Moines.” And thus, the Domaine Belargus was born. The new estate is 100% dedicated to Chenin Blanc and celebrates the grape’s versatility regarding terroirs and wine style. Ivan has installed a young team, and together they are currently converting to biodynamics, with a single-plot approach inspired by Ivan’s “beloved Burgundy.” “Our first vintage is 2018, and we like prolonged aging, from one to three years.” In fact, some of the Belargus’s 2018s are still not bottled. For a minimum of 13 months in barrels of different sizes, the wines are aged on total lees, without stirring or racking. I didn’t taste the whole range for this report, and I am already regretting it. At least there is a first 2019, a vintage that I generally like even better than 2018, but then, where would we land if the 2019s topped the 2018s, of which I have scored several wines with 96 RP and more, even up to 99 and 100. Let’s have a closer look at Ivan Massonnat and his new domaine. Ivan is a wine aficionado who said he learned everything he needed to know from countless on and off tastings as well as in close relations to inspiring winemakers, sommeliers, retailers, importers and journalists. Burgundy was his Holy Grail due to a history of a thousand years and a hierarchized mosaic of terroirs. But since his family has a history in Chinon, the Loire came into his focus soon, and why not demonstrate to the world that Chenin Blanc can at least play the role of Chardonnay, since the terroirs in the Loire Valley are at least as manifold as those in Burgundy. Then came a snowy day in February and a meeting with Jo Pithon at the bottom of Les Treilles, where Jo once patiently gathered 70 plots, cleared, regrouped and planted. “It will be my fight to make this terroir shine, it being as extraordinary as the Coulée de Serrant, but in a peasant version.” However, Les Treilles should not remain alone, and so an impressive collection of grands crus, single plots and monopoles on the schistous soils of the Anjou Noir was created and including the 10 hectares of vines in Les Quarts, one of the four parts in the historic heart of the Quarts-de- Chaume AOC, the only grand cru in the Loire Valley, of which Belargus now owns one quarter of the total 40 hectares. On the other side of the Loire River, in Savennières, the Clos des Ruchères at the bottom of Roche aux Moines was also bought, so that Domaine Belargus now cultivates 24 hectares of vines entirely dedicated to Chenin Blanc, and the grapes express their terroir, representing dry wines as well as incredibly finessed and balanced sweet wines that I find simply breathtaking. The winemaking is slow and as natural as possible. The grapes are picked at an optimal ripening point, and the fermentations take place in barrels, thanks to indigenous yeasts, and can last from a few weeks to more than a year, depending on each plot and the vintage characteristics. The name Belargus, by the way, goes back to the eponymous blue butterfly, historic inhabitant of the Coteau des Treilles.

You may also like…

Wine Region

Curated Selection

Product Type

Wine Occasion

Grape Variety

Producer

Wine Group

Vintage

Top Critics Score