With summer coming to a close and the onset of fall, I wanted to feature a Wine of the Week that will pair well with the transition of seasonal ingredients. In summer, you see tons of summer squash, tomatoes, basil, corn, stone fruit, and berries. When fall arrives, so do the hard winter squashes, chicories, wild mushrooms, apples, pears, potatoes, fennel, and beets. I like to think of wines as seasonal, too, and the arrival of fall makes me crave different types of wine. I want wines that are less fruity; I look for wines that are more herbal and savory.
One of the wines in our shop that seems best suited for fall is the Domaine Belluard 2010 “Mont Blanc” Brut. It’s a biodynamically farmed sparkling wine made from a nearly extinct grape called Gringet, which there are only 22 hectares of in existence. Belluard seeks to preserve this rare and delicious grape by making a number of varietal wines from it. The “Mont Blanc” brut is produced from grapes grown on steep slopes and in poor soil. The wine is intensely mineral – if you’ve ever doubted the existence of minerality in wine, get a bottle of this and you will no longer doubt it. It smells intensely of crushed rocks, what you might imagine a quarry smells like. Along with the notable minerality, there are aromas of ginger, lemongrass, white flowers, and fresh alpine air. This is an elegant, profound, complex wine that is perfect to pair with a variety of fall foods.
This is a very rare wine, and it’s beauty is equal to it’s scarcity. Most of it was sold out across California before it recovered from bottle shock due to being transported across the globe. I opened a bottle of this just the other night at a friend’s house, and it’s singing right now.
Blend: 100% Gringet
Vineyard: Biodynamically farmed. Vines are planted on chalky scree slopes with southern exposure.
Tasting Notes: A profound sparkling wine, with notes of white flowers, ginger, lemongrass, and crushed rocks.
Food Pairing: Comté cheese, smoked trout, quiche, roasted hard winter squash with maldon salt
Production Notes: Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Fermented and aged in concrete egg. Minimum of 3 years on the lees. Bottled with minimal SO2.
Winemaker: Dominique Belluard
Bio: Deep in the eastern French Alps, near the Swiss border, the Belluard family has been making wine in the village of Ayse since 1947. They are one of the region’s top Biodynamic producers. They started with vineyards of Gringet (a rare grape variety endemic to the region) and fruit orchards. They now own 12 of the 22 remaining hectares of this nearly extinct grape, and are doing their best to preserve it. Their vineyards are certified Biodynamic, and all of their wines are fermented and aged in concrete eggs instead of wood or stainless steel. Great care is taken in the production of these wines, utilizing only native yeasts, and even aging their own sparkling wines in the bottle (most producers outsource this).