WBW #24 Loire whites... Everything AND Chardonnay: Domaine de Bellevue Grande Réserve 2004

Domaine de Bellevue Grande Réserve 2004I thought it was going to be a long while before I heard Chardonnay get roundly dismissed again. But there Eric was last night, telling me he'll gladly drink "Anything But Chardonnay." Humph. I'll have to remember that next time I'm uncorking my $40 Burgundies.

Little did I know that I had just uncorked a Chardonnay moments before and it was getting socked back in seconds, nicely slaking our thirst in the heat. Domaine de Bellevue Grande Réserve 2004 was the Loire white wine I had picked out when Alder at Vinography organized this month's WBW topic. It was, in fact, Chardonnay. Eighty-percent Chardonnay. Or so some serious googling helped me to discover.

And that's the irony with the ABC campaign. It is such a wide-sweeping generalization that those who trade in its whacked-out wisdom to it are bound to get tripped up by it. Our glasses of Chardonnay were all drained before long, even Eric's. So is it the Chardonnay these ABC types don't like or is it the way Chardonnay is most often produced in the New World? Rhetorical question.

Of course the New World has spawned a backlash against Chardonnay. Google’s even more adept at seeking out answers to this. Just type in new world chardonnay backlash. At our table last night, the results were quite different. No backlash for the Chardonnay of Saint-Pourçain, which comes across totally unlike a buttery oaky Chard would.


With added Sauvignon and some possible traces of Tressallier, this wine is rather unique. Uniqueness is one of the great aspects of the Loire region. This massive valley reaches out to so many different areas that it features a whopping variety of wines, especially whites.

My Saint-Pourçain selection in particular is a bit of a curiosity in that it’s rather far-flung from the actual valley part of the Loire. To find Saint-Pourçain you need a map of France entire and then look to the very centre of the Hexagon. The area carries a VDQS appellation (Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure -- neither a Vin de Pays nor a full-fledged Appellation Controllée). Many wine-producing villages on the fringes of the Loire are given VDQS status and are expected to eventually achieve an AOC someday.

Domaine de Bellevue Grande Réserve 2004Another odd aspect of Saint-Pourçain is that it used to be big. Big like Bordeaux. But that was way back in the middle ages, which is an old part of the Old World that most European wineries are wise not to emphasize. Nevertheless, Saint-Pourçain labels often capture some of that Medieval cred (which may be oxymoron considering how vile those wines must’ve actually have tasted then). Credibility aside, the quaint lettering and out-of-time coat of arms do at least offer a Medieval mystique. I like the label.

In any case, today’s Saint-Pourçain maintains a focus on cool-climate wine production and the regional Tressallier grape often makes a strong contribution in this regard along with Sauvignon.


So how did this Chardonnay taste? Well, many modern Loire whites are using it with their Sauvignon and this bottle could be considered a nice example of the success that regional vintners have found with such a blend.

Here are my notes on the Domaine de Bellevue Grande Réserve 2004 Saint-Pourçain: Pale yellow colour with a nice aromatic intensity. Bread and mineral notes are most strong. On the palate it is grapefruit and a bit grassy. Some other herbal hints come out, especially if you pair it well with food. I'd have this with roasted cauliflower in a scallion butter and caper dressing. Quite dry is this wine, with a lovely lively acidity so it should be pretty amicable with any meal. Also serves to quench your thirst if you are not lucky enough to have any food nearby.

Thanks to Alder for hosting a real refreshing topic this month.

Jean-Louis Pétillat, Meillard, France. 12%


Collin C. said...
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Collin C. said...

I can't believe it! We missed another WBW. I guess I am gonna have to pay more attention next time.

The wine sounds great....I an going to have to keep an eye out for it.


g58 said...


I'm sure all the work you've been putting into your upcoming video blogging will make up for missing this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday or even a year's worth of WBWs.

Except WBW May 2007. Lenn's promised me a stab at hosting it and I'd be crushed like overripened zinfandel at a California stomp if you didn't participate in that.