- Château de Bel
- Montagne Saint-Emilion
Our vineyards are on the « bourrelet de Palus », situated on the border of the beautiful Dordogne, with sand and clay limestone soil. This well-located area is at least from the 17th century (Belleyme agricultural map) and benefits from a dip ground which brings a rich and well drained terroir.
When my wife and I acquired Château de Bel, we had only 4.5 hectares around the property and 90% was Merlot and old Cabernet Franc by that time. With my father-in-law’s help we bought nearby plots and extended our property to 8 hectares. The surface area can be considered as small in Bordeaux but it allows me to stay close from the work done in both vineyards and cellar.
We started our vineyards’ restructuration in 2005 by cutting off the old vines less interesting as they were planted during the 60’s and 70’s, when wine culture was more about quantity than quality. Today, I can say that old vines don’t mean quality in the Bordeaux appellation. I decided to slowly renew and diversify the vineyard by planting high quality Merlot and especially Cabernet Franc which is one of my favorite varieties, inevitable if you want to produce fresher wines, more digestible and with a lower alcohol content. I also realize tests on smaller surfaces with Malbec (also called Côt, or Pressac) and Chenin Blanc, known for their historical reputation in the region.
Luckily, my mother was from Libourne and stayed there when she got married to my father, who is from the Béarn region. His grandfather was a cooper in Pomerol and, like many other people, owned some lands where grown a few vines. One day, we found an old notice mentioning a gold medal won during the « Concours Agricole » for the « Clos du Canton des Ormeaux », which was the first and last historical evidence of winemaking from our great-grandfather. We had a name, and especially a land in Pomerol! When we restarted to plant in 1987, it was only a 17 ares field (a sixth of hectare), surrounded by vines, and that had multiple usages from a vegetable garden to a refuge for travelers. A neighbor owner cultivated it and kept it as a farmer until 2004. The area is nowadays a beautiful vineyard composed of mature and generous Merlot.
The second life of « Clos du Canton des Ormeaux » started in 2005 when I decided to elaborate a small cuvée, limited to only 1000 bottles! My parents kept my great-grandfather’s house but also it’s cooperage shop. Now I use it as a cellar in my wine-making process, so it’s not a garage wine but a workshop wine! About 215 sq.ft including half of its area upstairs. I love this workshop even though it’s not the most comfortable place in terms of work. Everything must be put on reflection if you don’t want to be stuck between two barrels, but I feel like I carry on my family’s little story.
The adventure goes on in 2007 with the acquisition of a 50 ares plot about 500 yards from the cellar. This decision reflected perfectly my passion for this appellation, an imperishable optimism and financial unpredictability. Three years later, I had to sell the half of it to trustful people I can consider today as friends, in order to satisfy my bank and my natural need to sleep a full night.
The story began when I met Bernard Gadrat, a friend of my step-father. He’s a funny guy, free, motivated and full of energy. He lives in a lovely place in Montagne, surrounded by 2 hectares of vineyards in Montagne Saint-Emilion appellation.
In 2013, he gave me his renting vineyards situated on an incredibly fresh and deep terroir. The vintage factor is absolutely insignificant here as the « bad » vintages in Bordeaux have nothing to be jealous of the « vintage of the century »…
I make small cuvees wines that highlight the grape varieties on the terroir. Cabernet Franc with « Achille » (50%), expressing its aromatic richness, and Merlot with « La Veille des Landes », thick and fruity in mouth!