Guide to the Loire regions

Saint-Pourçain

Grower Profiles


Chantel Pétillat

Domaine de Bellevue
The Domaine de Bellevue was purchased by Gilbert and Anne Pétillat, the great-grandparents of current imcumbant, Jean-Louis, in 1920. The couple were farmers rather than vignerons, and had bought Bellevue to develop the existing polyculture and élévage. The half hectare of vines came as part of the deal. For the first two years after the purchase, the family remained at their primary property, Domaine des Planches at nearby Lafeline in order to fulfil certain obligations there. The house at Bellevue is a tall manoir, its architecture not particularly traditional to the area. When the Pétillat’s bought the property, it took them a while to realise that all the furniture on the top floors had at some point been stolen by some previous owner.

The wines were first produced in 1922 and more vineyards were established, including 1.75 hectares during the 1934 and 1935. But it was not until 1938 did Gilbert’s son, Marc-Antoine, start to bottle the production. It was during this period that the domaine started to establish its reputation as one of the best producers in the appellation, reinforced by the Marc-Antoine’s attendance at the Concours Géneral Agricole in Paris each year.

In the early 1950s, Gérard Pétillant, the son of Marc-Antoine, attended viticultural school in Beaune. In 1951, they family bought 15 hectares of vines at ‘les Martinets’ and three years later planted another half hectare of Sauvignon, Traminer and Chardonnay. By 1964 the domaine had extended to 18 hectares, not much smaller than the 20 hectares that exist today.

The siblings of Gérard are the current generation of Pétillats to run the domaine. Eldest son, Michel holds a BTS in viticulture and oenology in Beaune, although he elected a different career path in Nantes, so it was left to second son, Jean-Louis, who had followed his elder brother to college in Beaune, to return to Bellevue and run the domaine with his father. That was in 1982. Five years later, they decided to concentrate on viticulture and the rest of the families agricultural pursuits fell away. Jean-Louis was married to Chantel, the daughter of a Gannat based gendarme, in 1988 and she immediately joined his at the domaine. Today, he works in the vineyards and cellar and Chantel takes care of the rest of the business. 

All but two hectares of their 20ha are on the granitic soils of Meillard. The balance coming from vines rented on the clay and limestone soils of Châtel-de-Neuvre. Their plantings also reflect the current demands on the appellation, and they have a strong representation of white grapes, accounting for about 40% of their production. Until 2000, there was no Tressallier planted in their vines, as both Jean-Louis and his father had rejected the variety. Obligation to include it within the forthcoming appellation meant they had to accommodate it, and it now accounts for 20% of their total white grape plantings. There is also 10% Sauvignon Blanc, but the dominant white grape remains Chardonnay. Their 12 hectares of red grapes are planted equally to Pinot Noir and Gamay. 
 
In terms of the wines, the main white cuvée is the Grande Réserve Blanc which comes from the equivalent of 6.3 hectares of Chardonnay (which represents about 80% of the blend) with 10% each of Tressalier and Sauvignon Blanc. The three wines are vinified separately in tank and only blended prior to bottling. The wine is dry, steely and mineral with a racy acidity. The Reflets Blanc is something of a curiosity. The current release (in 2010) is from 1996 vintage. It’s produced from 100% Chardonnay which goes through a full malo-lactic fermentation in tank. The wine is bottled after a year and held back. It is distinctly mature, with a nutty, autolytic character. Individual and not to everyone’s taste. There are two rosés, an excellent and serious example made using part maceration and part direct pressure. The other is a more simple gris. Of the two reds, the Grande Réserve represents 7 hectares of a 50/50% Pinot Noir/Gamay blend that is raised in tank. The second is Les Roches Grises, produced from two-thirds Pinot Noir from the stony and granite soils of a 1.7 hectare parcel. The wine is aged in tank for a year with a one-third barrel component blended in prior to bottling.

In addition to the wines, there is a reasonable amount of sparkling wine marketed as Bulles de Champs, a delicious fizz aromatized with poppy.

The long standing reputation for the wines of Domaine de Bellevue is well founded and they certainly sit comfortably within the top three producers of the appellation. There is great consistency through the range, and they produce probably the best rosé within the appellation.

Chantelle et Jean-Louis Pétillat
Domaine de Bellevue
Bellevue
Meillard
T : + 33 4 70 42 05 56
F : + 33 4 70 42 09 75
jean-louis.petillat1@wanadoo.fr
www.domaine-petillat.fr

 

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