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Located north of Tours in the northernmost area of the Loire valley, Eric Nicolas- along with his wife Christine and their children- are the producing some of the finest wines in little-known Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir.
The estate covers 14 hectares in the Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir Appellations. The parcels are located in 5 zones: Lhomme, Ruillé sur Loir, Chahaignes, Marçon and Dissay sous Courcillon. Each area offers different soils which constitute the richness and diversity of the various wines of the estate.
The vines, including many old vines, (some up to 100 years!) are cultivated by plowing, hoeing, harrowing etc., and replanting is done using massalle selection at a very high density (13,000 vines per hectare); this gives better quality, and allows M. Nicolas to use their rare and valuable terroir to our best advantage. Progressively, parcel by parcel, this fundamental work has enabled Eric Nicolas to build a natural resistance to pests and diseases in the vineyard that is continually improving. The harvest is entirely manual and yields are very low.
Domine de Bellivière converted the whole estate to biodynamic agriculture in 2008.
THE ELEMENTS OF THE TERROIR
The Loir and its tributaries cut their beds in tufa limestone, which is a geological sub soil laid down by previously deposited marine organisms. Successive land modifications have provided a range of 16 parcels which allow the two grape varieties chosen by the Cistercian monks - Chenin and Pineau d'Aunis - to show off to their best quality. The omnipresent flinty clays are sometimes heavy and shelter the best terroirs for red wine. Sometimes closer to the parent rock, the tufa when mixed with micaceous sands whose origins date in part back to the secondary era, allow the Chenin to express finesse, elegance and aromatic richness.
VINIFICATION AND AGING
White wines are made and matured totally in 1-3 year old barrels. The parcels are separated. The Chenin grape is the exclusive grape variety for white wines. White wines are aged in barrels on their lees until bottling in September (sometimes up to 18 months when the potential of the vintage is high). Rosé wines are produced entirely from Pineau d'Aunis grapes (pepper, spice) with sometimes a touch of Grolleau grapes. The vinification is in barrel in low temperature cellars. The wines are often made with grapes dried by over-maturation (passerillage). Thanks to the perseverance Bellivière and other estates in the area, sweet and liquoreux wines are now part of the permitted criteria for the appellation Coteaux du Loir. Red wine vinification takes place in open vats which allow the cap of marc to be pushed back down into the fermenting must. Bellivière's efforts are designed to seek out all the subtlety and aromatic finesse of the Pineau d'Aunis grape. The reds, aged until September in barrels, are racked after undergoing malolactic fermentation and bottled unfiltered.
Excellent information is located at www.belliviere.com
Also check out this article for a good profile on the estate.