“Irresistible”: Next Wave Loire Superstar

Posted on: 08/23/22 8:15 PM



The future of Anjou lies in the hands of a man named Ivan Massonat and his estate, Domaine Belargus.

“This is one of the most spectacular new entries in the history of The Wine Advocate,” writes Advocate’s Stephan Reinhardt, “…and it makes the Loire, especially its tributary, Layon, one of the most fascinating terroirs in the Anjou region. Domaine Belargus is the name that should soon populate the world’s finest wine lists, especially since the prices are — still? — affordable.” Still affordable, yes. But not for long.

Belargus was created in 2018 out of the wine estate of Jo Pithon (Pithon-Paillé), a legend in the Loire, but reinvigorated by Mr. Massonat, who long believed in Chenin Blanc’s potential for diverse terroir expression equal to Pinot Noir in Burgundy (Massonat also owns part of Philippe Pacalet in Burgundy).

Now totaling twenty-four hectares, he has assembled a spectacular amount of parcels of vines: the famous Les Treilles hillside, a sort of “Côte Rotie” of the Loire, planted entirely to Chenin Blanc. In addition to the parcels already from the former domaine, Ivan purchased a small parcel in Savennières, one third of the Grand Cru of Quart de Chaume and more parcels adjacent to the famous monopole of Les Treilles. The entire property is farmed biodynamically.

When Mr. Massonat purchased the estate, he set about to create a “spare no expense” team to produce a stable of virtual Grand Cru wines. The roster is deeply impressive: Adrien Moreau, the head winemaker who formerly worked at Cheval Blanc, Haut-Brion, Roederer. Guy Bossard, lead biodynamic consultant who has been a pioneer of biodynamic farming in the region and has made some of the Loire’s most stunning wines and, of course, the legend, Jo Pithon himself.

Today we’re offering the estate’s most important cuvee, the Anjou Blanc “Ronceray” which is Chenin Blanc from the ensemble of the property’s holdings in the Grand Cru of Quarts de Chaume. The terroir here is both schist and pudding sandstone and is almost entirely sound facing over the Layon river. It is an incredible wine and has everything we look for in a dry Chenin: beautiful, deep pure flavors and with exceptional freshness and energy. Do not miss this!

2018 Belargus Ronceray (Dry Grand Cru Quarts de Chaume)

“The 2018 Anjou Ronceray assembles all the plots of the Domaine on the Quarts-de-Chaume rump. Its name refers to the abbey of the same name, owner of the Chaume vineyards since the 11th century, reports Ivan Massonat, who stresses the complex geology of the terroir that combines schists and pudding sandstone. The bouquet of the golden-yellow 2018 is noble, perfectly ripe and concentrated in its elegant stone fruit aromas that intermingle with precise and refreshing slate as well as lemony notes. Filigreed, finessed and perfectly round and intense on the palate, this is a gorgeous Chenin with intense fruit, lush fruit concentration, lots of extract, fine tannins but also finesse and balance. Grapefruit bitters on the finish. To me, this is a picture-book Anjou from Rochefort-sur-Loire, and it is characterized by richness, finesse and elegance. Irresistible.” 94 Points, Wine Advocate

“This seems subtle at first, with notes of candied ginger and persimmon, but the fruit and spice elements keep unravelling one after another, all backed by finely beaded acidity that lends definition and stretches out the long, fresh finish. Try now with food or cellar for a few more years. Best from 2022 through 2031.” 92 Points, Wine Spectator

“Ronceray is the most important cuvée of the estate and extends over more than 4ha on clay, schist, sandstone and pudding-stone soils. Pear, spices, flowers, menthol, a mouthfeel of roundness but with remarkable vibrancy on the mid-palate and then a light-footed finish. A fresh, complex Anjou white that has rectitude and precision.” 92 Points, Decanter


Posted in Daily Flash By Tim Sellon