Nicolas Potel is a young, energetic and charismatic winemaker making waves in the historic Burgundy region with his Domaine de Bellene vineyards and winery. Born with blue Burgundy blood running through his veins, from the Volnay family that own the top Domaine de la Pousse d'Or estate, Nicolas created Domaine de Bellene in 2005 after acquiring some excellent vineyards from growers that no longer wanted to produce their own wines.
Fast forward to 2020 and he now organically farms 24 hectares of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards from the best villages in the Cote d'Or, producing them in his winery located in an old Cistercian abbey in Beaune. (The name Bellene was the name of Beaune during the Middle Ages). In an area where negociant winemaking is common, Nicolas' goal has always been to control the process from farming through to producing and selling, and Domaine de Bellene has allowed him to do this with great success. The winery now has 60 hectares across Meursault, Volnay, Pommard, Beaune, Nuits and Vosne Romanee, among other villages.
The Maison Dieu Borgogne Rouge is from a single vineyard near the town of Pommard (a great village to stay and eat when visiting Burgundy). It is one of the oldest sites Nicolas works with, planted in 1928 to low yielding, high density vines that deliver small Pinot Noir grapes and concentrated flavours. The feature of the vineyard is balance and Nicolas' winemaking seeks to protect this while maintaining freshness.
2019 is one of several challenging vintages over the past decade, though one where red wines excelled. Burgundy is cool, though getting warmer, and the 2019 season kicked off early and commenced with a warm growing season. Some light August rains gave vines much needed respite, and the result was some riper, flavoursome, early drinking Pinot Noir.
The wine was harvested in mid September, fermented naturally in vats with whole bunches delivering savouriness and structure, before pressing off to one and two year old oak barrels. The result is a serious and powerful Burgundian Pinot Noir and a brilliant bottle for well under $50. Flavours are red cherry, dark berry and a mushroom like earthiness with a light rose petal, floral lift. It is dense and powerful through the mid palate, with a rustic, old world austerity. We'll be drinking this over the next three years.