Domaine Belle has an interesting history. In the 1600’s, vines were grown in vineyards around the Chateau de Larnage and all the land and produce belonged to the Lord of Larnage. Each villager had to give three days unpaid corvee labour (one for pruning, one for ploughing and another for the grape harvest).
It remained a community vineyard until a big change took place when Louis Belle (Philippe’s grandfather) took over the property in 1933. Louis Belle even became a founder member of the Tain l’Hermitage wine-making cooperative. This great winegrower also acquired some superb parcels of land in the communes of Larnage and Tain l’Hermitage. When Louis handed the land on to his son Albert in the 1970s, the holding consisted of 4ha spread over two communes (Larnage and Tain).
Passionate about vines and wine, Albert Belle started to make wine for himself and his friends. Albert’s son Philippe, who had recently returned from studying winemaking, moved to the forefront with the creation of Domaine Belle. Together Albert and his son built a modern, functional winery, giving them the means to produce great wines which respect the terroir of the individual appellations.
The Domaine has always been a family holding, passed on from generation to generation, promoting the special Larnage terroir with its white clays, often called ‘Les Terres Blanches’. Today, Domaine Belle stretches over six communes (Larnage, Crozes-Hermitage, Tain l’Hermitage, Pont de l’Isère, Mercurol and Tournon), three appellations (Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Saint Joseph).
You can argue that the winemaking has never been better than it is now. The 2019 was lauded by Jeb Dunnuck and The Wine Advocate both. The Wine Advocate went further in their tasting notes, “This family domaine in the hills of Larnage has turned out an outstanding lineup this year, with every one of the bottlings meriting serious attention. As usual, the Crozes Hermitage offerings overdeliver, packed with intensity and flavor, while the Hermitages (white and red) both excel.”
We have 30 bottles of the domaine’s flagship bottling up for grabs today. This is a serious collector’s item, and the Syrah at this site is as good as it gets anywhere in the coveted region.
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96+ Points, Jeb Dunnuck
Another brilliant wine from this team is the 2019 Hermitage, which spent 26 months in 50% new French oak and 50% in once-used barrels. Its dense purple color is followed by a massive array of ripe blackberry and cassis fruits interwoven with notes of scorched earth, subtle smoke, beef blood, and crushed rock. It’s big, full-bodied, concentrated, and opulent, yet it has ultra-fine tannins and impeccable balance as well. It’s going to take a decade to shed its baby fat (it offers ample pleasure today) but should have 20-30 years of overall longevity.
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