Domaine Belargus

Domaine Belargus Coteaux du Layon 2018

R895

An aromatic, finely balanced wine with bright acidity and clarity, fresh and delicious.

Only 2 left in stock

Additional information

Additional information

Grape Variety

Chenin Blanc

Producer

Domaine Belargus

Product Type

White Wine, Sweet Wine

Vintage

2018

Wine Group

Boutique

Wine Occasion

Formal Entertainment

Wine Region

Loire Valley

Curated Selection

Top Rated, Organic & Biodynamic

Critics Top Rating

96 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.

 

The LAYON cuvée comes from our plots bordering the Layon river, on three different villages. This sweet wine, built on a delightful freshness, is marked by its balance and great drinkability.

Specifications

Specifications

Grape Variety – 100% Chenin Blanc

Vineyard planted in 1986 – 1989 with Chenin Blanc (on SO4 & 101-14 MGT). Guyot poussard, Biodynamic (conversion)

Soil – Loamy clays on schists on South & North facing Hills

Winemaking – With Indigeneous yeasts for 7 months. Stainless steel tanks, fining by centrifugation. Slight filtration, on kieselgur diatomite. 102.3g RS / L.

Vintage – The 2018 vintage was historic, in Anjou as in many French regions, with good yields and exceptional grape quality. The winter had started early and was quite cold, with severe frosts. The land was thus opened, allowing nitrogen fertilisation as well as soil oxygenation. Generous rains helped building a comfortable water reserve. The hot and humid spring allowed the vines to grow well, but also brought strong mildew pressure, especially in June. The summer was particularly hot and dry, but the vines did not suffer thanks to the sufficient accumulated reserves. The dry wines harvest began on September 10th and went on for twenty days without a single drop of rain, perfect conditions which allowed optimal management of the ripeness.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Notes

The LAYON cuvée is characterized by its surprising lightness and its harmonious sugar/acidity balance. Fermented and aged in tanks, it remains fresh and airy. Opening on notes of fresh fruits and citrus, it also develops aromas of rhubarb and dry hay. The mouth, suave and enveloping, is supported by an acidulous sensation.

Food pairing – LAYON can be enjoyed alone, served chilled, or with light desserts such as apple pie or «clafoutis» with cherries or rhubarb.

Best served at 8-10ºC

Critic Ratings

Critic Ratings

Wine Advocate – 96 points

From south-facing slopes on the schistous soils of the Loire tributary, the 2018 Coteaux du Layon Moelleux Layon shows a radiant orange color and a brilliant, absolutely beautiful and elegant nose of perfectly ripe and stewed apricots intertwined with fresh, spicy-mineral and herbal notes as well as wax notes. Smooth and delicate on the palate, this is a seamless, perfectly balanced moelleux with fine, crystalline acidity and fully ripe and sweet, highly elegant and refined fruit. The finish is sensationally long and stimulating. This is a great Layon to have for its own, with cheese or an apricot tart. 11.5% alcohol. 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.


Decanter – 92 points

Tasted by Yohan Castaing (at Angers, 02 Jan 2019)Part of Exploring new Loire estate Domaine Belargus

A plot of almost 3ha, facing south-east, with a soil of schist, silts and pudding-stone. In 2018 25% of the production from Domaine Belargus was sweet wine. This Layon has aromatic balance for its notes of pineapple, apricot and honey. Racy acidity on the palate brings focus and energy and gives it admirable clarity and precision. Fresh and delicious. Drinking Window 2030 – 2050

 

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