Domaine Belle 2018 "Les Pierrelles" Crozes-Hermitage

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Tasting notes
Full of ripe dark fruit flavours and spices with soft tannins and a long after-taste. Ideal with hearty dishes and hard cheeses.

Why we recommend this wine
We find that Rhone Syrah falls between Burgundy and Bordeaux in flavours and weight and only takes half the time for the wine to be ready for drinking. And this is an excellent example.

The wine
100 % Syrah grown on very stony sandy red clay soil in the communes of Pont de l’Isère and Mercurol. The grapes are harvesting by hand from vineyards in organic conversion. The must undergoes a three-week fermentation with indigenous yeasts and is then aged entirely in oak barrels for 14 months, divided equally between old barrels of two to five years of age.

The wine estate
Domaine Belle has an interesting history. In the 1600’s, vines were grown in vineyards around the Château de Larnage and all the land and produce belonged to the Lord of Larnage. Each villager had to give three days unpaid corvee labour (one for pruning, one for ploughing and another for the grape harvest). In 1769, at a village assembly called by the new Lord of Larnage, each family was granted a small parcel of land with vines for their personal use.
From these feudal times the family holding gradually expanded, until in the 1930s it consisted of several neighbouring plots whose grapes were made into wine and sold locally. The then Belle loved growing vines, but he didn’t much like making the wine and in 1933 he became a founder member of the Tain l’Hermitage wine-making cooperative. This great vinegrower also acquired some superb parcels of land in the communes of Larnage and Tain l’Hermitage.
Passionate about vines and wine, Albert, the current Belle started to make wine for himself and his friends. In 1990, the father and son team built a modern, functional winery, giving them the means to produce great wines which respect the terroir of the individual appellations.
Today, Domaine Belle stretches over six communes (Larnage, Crozes-Hermitage, Tain l’Hermitage, Pont de l’Isère, Mercurol and Tournon), three appellations (Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Saint Joseph) and covers an area of 25ha of vines, to which you must add apricot orchards and a vine nursery.

Food and wine
Roasts, stews, hard cheeses and even game fish all go well. Also see our guide to pairing food and wine here.

Did you know?
Hermitage and Crozes Hermitage are adjacent wine regions in the Northern Rhone that produce Syrah wines. But Hermitage sells for 4 times or more than the price for Crozes Hermitage. Hermitage vineyards are located at the top of hill, gaining full exposure from the sun and have a granite soil. Crozes Hermitage vineyards are just below and have more clay and sand. This follows the pattern of Burgundy where hillside wine prices also outstrip the prices of wines from lower situated vineyards. It all has to do with how hard the vines have to work to produce grapes.