Acquired in 2010 by the talented winemaker Stéphane Vedeau, the Valréas Clos Bellane estate is located at the northern-most end of the Rhône Valley, 410 metres above sea level. It’s a location that satisfied Vedeau’s call for a spot that was “Further north! Further up!” Here, latitude, aspect, and elevation contribute to an exceptionally cool micro-climate that produces elegant, measured wines not necessarily typical of the southern Rhône. The valley walls are steep. Vines grow on the east-facing side, where they catch the first soft rays of the rising sun, but are protected from the intensity and excessive heat stress of the afternoon. The organic vineyards are surrounded by truffle-rich forests and buzz with honey bees (there are over 120 hives on the property). Vedeau is interested in working with mineral-rich soil and fruit that matures slowly, steadily – the estate’s chalky limestone soil gives the wines a mineral edge.
If, for you, Châteauneuf-du-Pape brings to mind big, booming wines with jammy palates, you may be surprised by the restraint and elegance of the wines of Clos Bellane. There’s density, structure, and fruit, yes – but nothing heavy-handed. Vedeau’s approach in the cellar emphasizes subtlety and restraint: natural fermentation, minimal sulfur, no fining or filtration, plenty of old Burgundian oak and concrete. Very refreshing.
“Clos Bellane was purchased by Stephane Vedeau, of Ferme du Mont, in 2010. The estate covers 42 hectares, with a tiny 1.14 hectares in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The wines are gorgeous.” – Jeb Dunnuck on Clos Bellane, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, March 2016