The first time I tried wine from Domaine de Belliviere, I tasted the 2016 Vieilles Vignes Eparses and I can’t lie - it reminded me of the first time I ate a gooseberry. I hadn’t ever had one until very recently (reminder: I’m American) but I heard them used as a tasting description for wine so, so many times I was certain I’d know what to expect when I gleefully bit into one. It probably will not come as a surprise to any singular Brit that I hadn’t prepared for the experience of the gooseberry: a wash of acid I felt behind my ears and in my eye sockets. Searing, brain-numbing acid. If I’m honest, when I tasted this wine for the first time, that memory came rushing back to me, the pleasurable pain of it, the shock, the little bead of sweat that starts to form under your brow. Sure, it’s a sign of youth in wine, but it’s also a sign of sheer life.
To make wine in Jasnieres and the Coteaux-du-Loir is no easy feat; it’s in the north of the Loire where the rolling hills never really shake a cold, damp layer of air that sits heavily on the horizon. Vines here are prone to frost, mildew, hail, you name it. Harvest takes place in October, earliest, and there’s an average loss of about 50% of fruit. In short, this is a fairly extreme place to make wine.
In that extremity, I’m able to make sense of that rush of acid, energy, vibrancy, of life that I experienced for the first time in the Eparses 2016. To have survived the conditions here is to thrive - necessarily. Each time I taste wines from this domaine, I’m transported to my memory and to the shock I felt, followed by the gratification of wines made from grapes that were strong, healthy, and carefully cared for enough to be made into wine. The wines sing of their place, celebrate it even: the beauty that grows from suffering.