Above Chambertin Clos de Beze and immediately south of Ruchottes-Chambertin lies one of Burgundy's most interesting vineyards - the Gevrey 1er Cru Bel-Air.
The name comes from the the thought that the air, at 350 metres above sea level where Bel-Air is sited, was more pure than elsewhere. It was once said "that to take in the good air one would have to climb to the top of the Côte".
The 1er Cru Bel-Air was in pre-phylloxera days somewhat more substantial than it is today. But following the blight much of the site was left unplanted for a century. The woods protected the Grand Crus below from cold winds and frost.
In his work on Le Chambertin Jean-Francois Bazin wrote that "During the 1930's Bel Air was held in the same regard as the Grand Crus around it". It had to be that good to creep into the appellation boundary of Chambertin.
The 1960's saw more replanting and today the area under vine is 2.65 hectares.
Bel Air shares the same terroir as its neighbour Clos de Bèze, and the higher part of Ruchottes-Chambertin. The steep slope, with thin, white marl soil, gives the wines greater acidity and freshness. Jasper Morris says he finds a slight blackcurrant tint to the fruit.
With such a small area under vine it is not surprising that there are only a few owners. Charlopin-Parizot in one and Taupenot-Merme is another.
We have just over 2 Cases of the 2006 Bel-Air from Taupenot-Merme from the domaine's museum stocks. I tasted this wine last week and it is drinking beautifully. It has a complex amalgam of red fruit, earth and a little Gevrey iron-filings. Almost a decade in bottle has seen the wine develop with a supple palate and delightfully weighted, long finish. Try it, I think you will like it.
This is a great opportunity not only to buy a seldom-seen vineyard but also a wonderful aged example of the wine.
Domaine Taupenot-Merme Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Bel-Air 2006
$106.50 a Bottle
Only 25 bottles available
Burghound: A very discreet touch of wood spice sets off equally high-toned but cooler red berry fruit aromas that possess only a dash of Gevrey earth that merge into pure, balanced and slightly more complex middle weight flavors that possess real finishing punch as this does a slow build from the sappy mid-palate to the long finale. This is definitely worth a look as it's really quite pretty yet quite Gevrey as well. 90 Points
Great value for an aged Burgundy in beautiful condition.
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