Domaine Belle "Cuvée Louis Belle" Crozes-Hermitage (2018)
Rivaling the 2015, if not even better (time will tell), the 2018 Crozes-Hermitage Cuvée Louis Belle is a rock star of a Crozes-Hermitage, revealing a dense purple color as well as fabulous crème de cassis and blackberry fruits interwoven with peppered beef, violets, new leather, and flowers. The real deal, it's concentrated and full-bodied, with wonderful tannins, flawless balance, and a great finish. It has a pure, polished, almost modern edge, yet it brings plenty of background meaty, bloody, black olive notes with time in the glass and is pure Crozes-Hermitage gold. Drink bottles over the coming 10-15 years.
With its deep purple hue and bold scents of toasty oak, licorice and blueberries, the 2018 Crozes Hermitage Cuvee Louis Belle loudly announces its presence in the glass. It's full-bodied and intense-a rocking Crozes that's rich and creamy across the mid-palate, then softly dusty with ripe tannins and plenty of length on the finish. Almost too much at this age-but in a deliciously approachable, sumptuous way-it looks to have at least a decade of longevity. (JC)
The roots of the Belle family run deep in Hermitage and extend back to the 18th century when the family began acquiring vines in the region. When descendant Louis Belle assumed control of the property, he preferred tending vines over making wine. In 1933, he became one of the founding members of the Cave de Tain, the local cooperative. It was not until 2003 when grandson Philippe began making wines for the domaine. The property has 25 hectares of vines planted across Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage and St-Joseph, along with apricot orchards and a vine nursery tended by Philippe's brother, Jean-Claude. The vineyards were certified organic in 2014. The Cuvee Louis Belle is from Syrah vines ranging from 20-100 years of age. About 50% destemming occurs and all grapes are fermented with native yeasts. The wine is aged between 16-18 months in a mix of new (about 25%) and used barrels. This signature cuvee epitomizes the quality of their Crozes fruit and Rhone expert John Livingstone-Learmonth calls the Belle "a serious, structured wine that keeps and evolves well." We agree and are happy to have added them to our portfolio of direct imports in 2020. (ECOCERT Certified Organic)