Wines to Seek Out
Cool-climate wines from the Southern Rhône may sound about as contradictory as oranges from the Alps, but that's what Clos Bellane is all about: elegant, pure expressions of Southern Rhône blends, whose twist comes from their uncharacteristic freshness. Situated on a plateau above the small city of Valréas, this tiny and relatively young estate with winemaker Stephane Vedeau at the helm makes the two best bottles of Côtes du Rhône I've come across: one red and one white.
Clos Bellane Côtes du Rhône-Villages Valréas Blanc
When white Rhône’s are this good, they’re among France’s most compelling wines. This blanc bursts with complex aromas (peaches? kiwi? lemon peel? flowers?) and has a sultry texture and energy that demands attention. Convention wisdom says “you shouldn’t be able to drink this well for less than $20.”
Clos Bellane Côtes du Rhône-Villages Valréas Rouge
The rouge is a 50-50 blend of Grenache and Syrah that perfectly extracts the best attributes of both grapes, suggesting dried strawberry and blackberry, rosemary and leather. The wine drinks like a duet in harmony. I sampled this wine blind next to several other Grenache blends including a couple from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It wasn’t even close which was my favorite on that table.
Note: I have yet to review Clos Bellane's other wines: a rosé of Grenache, a varietal each of Grenache and Syrah, and a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. They are on the watch list.