Domaine Belluard Vin de Savoie Ayse Mont-Blanc Méthode Traditionnelle Brut-Zéro 2006 (Savoie, France)
12.5%, Cork, $48
|Belluard Ayse Brut Zero 2006
Made right near the Mont Blanc pen factory?
Domaine Belluard is a biodynamic producer located in Savoie, a wine region located on the French-Swiss border not far from the ski resort of Chamonix (and in the shadow of Mont-Blanc), producing wines mainly from the Savagnin-like (though even older genetically) Gringet, a variety that is native to Savoie and thought to be reduced to just 20ha of plantings worldwide (of which Domaine Belluard has 8ha). Dominique and Patrick Belluard are champions of the rare Gringet and craft it into a whole range of styles (plus a few Mondeuese and Altesse oddities), with this zero dosage sparkler sitting at the, erm, sparkling end. (Dave Brookes gives some more background about Gringet here).
If there is one thing that this sparkling wine isn’t however, it’s Champagne, with the pronounced varietal quirkiness (or what I think is varietal quirkiness, not that I’ve ever tried a Gringet) making for one unusual wine. Think somewhere in between an ultra-stony Prosecco and a Jura Savagnin and you’re heading in the right direction, carrying a nose that is more table wine than sparkling (and with nary a Champagne smell in sight). It’s quite yellow/orange in the glass too, a nod to what looks like some quite oxidative handling (the Belluard’s ferment in concrete eggs and amphorae after all) and the 4yrs this wine spent ageing.
That nose really is intriguing stuff, showing a hint of cut apple oxidation before heading into tangerine and peach juice, that acidity positively lifting out of the glass. Think the juiciness of old vine Moscatel but leaner and more tangerine. No surprises to see a palate that is both full of tangerine fruit juiciness matching to soul defining acidity and even with a suggestion of flor brininess. Plenty of layers on the palate too, even if the acidity drenches everything.
To be honest it was plainly too acidic and tart at first, a rather overt and oxidative beast that I struggled with. As it warmed up I warmed to it however, that peach and tangerine fruit richness balancing out the ski slope edges to make for a rather intriguing sparkling curio. Rating it is a harder proposition (like most natural wines) as it doesn’t really fit into any normal paradigms (and is still quite divisive). 16.8/89 (I think three topless squaws – though not quite five – would also be appropriate).
(Imported by Living Wines, who have a fabulous range of quirky wines just like this one).