to the Loire regions
Vincent Bellivier is a real character; a man who refuses to take himself, or anyone around him seriously. Almost within the same sentence he can be philosophical, jovial and confrontational, although I am sure his long-suffering wife, Dominique, tries her best to keep him on the straight and narrow. A first generation winemaker, Bellivier installed himself in the village of Huismes, the home of his paternal grandfather in 1983. Coming from a military family (his father was based for many years in the French colonies in Africa), Vincent at least had a base from which to start his enterprise.
There are now a total of 5.8 hectares, so not a large domaine by any standards, drawing grapes from the lieux-dits of La Tourette (which gives the domaine its name), Les Gaudelles, Les Trembles, Les Cases Têtes, La Motte and Les Landes, all of which are located on the clay-limestone soils surrounding Huismes.
In terms of the wines, the interesting thing with Bellivier is that 40% of his production is rosé; the highest percentage of any other grower I met during the course of my research. He produces a little Chinon blanc from 0.25 hectares of Chenin, with the rest dedicated to red. The cuvée Tradition tasted from both bottle and tank (the 2008, 2009 and 2010 vintages) were all excellent - pure and clean - my idea of what Chinon should be. Vincent and Dominique have two boys, Noune and Matthieu, who are at an age where they are beginning to gain some interest in the business. Vincent's sense of humour has led him to release a succession of wines with titles which are a cringing play-on-words for Noune: Noune-Ifique, Noune-Velle, Noune-nophile.... In 2007, he also released a wine called Zéro Zéro Sept, an obvious reference to James Bond; sadly if the joke only works once. Bellivier raises his wines in a combination of stainless steel, fibre-glass and older barrels, using only natural yeasts for fermentation, no filtration and all the grapes are harvested by hand.
An audience with Vincent Bellivier is something of a manic experience, but something that is highly recommended to any visitors to the appellation regardless of your level of interest in the subject. The wines are modest and unpretentious yet individual; not unlike the man himself.
You'll find his cellar in the centre of Huismes, where the family also operate a couple of self-catering cottages incorporated within their small-holding.