- Anjou, Loire, France
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."
Belargus was birthed out of the wine estate of Jo Pithon, a legend in the Anjou, but reinvigorated by a man named Ivan Massonat who also owns part of Philippe Pacalet in Burgundy. When Ivan purchased the estate, he set about to create a crack team to produce a stable of virtual Grand Cru wines in the Anjou.
The property is built around the most spectacular parcel of vines I’ve ever seen in the Loire, the famous Les Treilles hillside, a sort of Côte Rotie of the Loire, planted entirely to Chenin Blanc. In addition to the parcels already part of the former domaine, Ivan purchased a small parcel in Savennières, 1/3 of the Grand Cru of Quart de Chaume! (which they are mostly vinifying dry), and additional parcels adjacent to the famous monopole of Les Treilles. The entire property is farmed biodynamically. The property is 100% Chenin Blanc, with the vast majority vinified dry, even when coming from the Grand Cru of Quarts de Chaume. Here is a breakdown of the domaine’s parcels and the team behind it, by Jon David Headrick:
Les Treilles – A monopole of almost 10 hectares on extremely steep slopes, some as steep as 70 degrees. The vines are planted on a combination of very old calcaire (much older than that found in the rest of the Loire) and schist. It produces wines of extremely long aging and finish.
Bonnes Blanches – One of the most famous parcels in the Anjou owned by growers such as Pierre-Bise, Ogereau, Mosse, and others. This is historically made into sweet wine, but Belargus vinifies it dry.
Quart de Chaume Grand Cru – Belargus own 10 hectares of this Grand Cru and vinifies it mostly into one of their top dry wines. Stunning parcel, stunning wines. This is separated into three separate parcels by exposition and soil type into four wines.
Ruchères in Savennières – This is at the bottom of Roches-aux-Moines, looking out over the Loire river.
Adrien Moreau – Winemaker. Formerly at Cheval Blanc, Haut-Brion, Roederer.
Guy Bossard – Lead biodynamic consultant. Most of you know the epic wines of Guy Bossard in Muscadet. He has been a pioneer of biodynamic farming in the region and has made some of the Loire’s most stunning wines.
Jo Pithon – Jo, the former owner of the estate, is now part of the team and is the resident historian of the various parcels farmed by Belargus. Jo singlehandedly converted the monopole of Les Treilles from scrub bush to terraced vineyards. It is the most stunning piece of land I’ve ever seen in the Loire outside of the possible exception of La Coulée de Serrant.
The estate is composed of 24 hectares farmed at extremely low yields (an average of 25 hl/ha instead of the normal 60 hl/ha.). The meticulous and perfect farming is equaled in the cellar, where winemaking is slow and unobtrusive. Fermentations are spontaneous and made in French wood, lasting from a week to many months, depending on the plot.