France’s best kept secret : Bellet Wine

wine grapes

[rev_slider vineyard]When people think of wine, they usually think of France. With its global reputation as the leading wine producer, its a given that when you are in France, you can find very good and inexpensive wines in every area of the country.  However, wines such as Bordeauxs and Saint Emillions heralding super star status, smaller appellations tend to get overlooked or missed. Hence, one of France’s best kept secret’s can be found right here on the French Riviera, in Nice no less.

Covering 125 hectares of terraced hillsides overlooking the Mediterranean sea is the small boutique sized appellation of Bellet wines.  Well known by locals who have penchant for rosé wines, Bellet produces some very nice strong reds and fresh rosé from 2 main varieties, Braquet and Folle Noire, while whites are predominantly the Rolle variety among others.

Domain de la Source wine cellar

Because of the natural topography of Bellet that only permits the land to be worked by hand, rather than machinery, wine production is estimated at only 100,000 bottles a year.  This is also one of the reasons believed to be the attributing factor to the very good quality of Bellet wines. as Carine Dalmasso, winemaker for Domaine de la Source explains, “For these unique and endemic varieties, the soil (pudding stone) sand and rounded pebbles, the sun and the wind from sea and the mountains are the elements that make a quality wine, expressive and very atypical.  Small yields, organic farming and a manual harvest brings to this exceptional wine incomparable aromas.”

Typically harvest season begins around mid-September to mid-October, and is a very jovial time for the vineyards as they invite family and friends to harvest the grapes and of course celebrate with wine!

As you drive through this hillside wine making region, 15 minutes inland from the beach, you can visit the vineyards and taste the wines currently in production. Vineyards such as Chateau de Bellet, Domain de la Source, Chateau de Cremat, Les Coteaux de Bellet,  and Clos St. Vincent are the most well known vineyards in this regions, some of which are still family run such as Domaine de la Source from the Dalmasso family.

A labor of love for the vineyard of Bellet  reveals itself in the quality of the wines produced and is treasured among the Nicois community where Pissalediere  (a pizza like Nicois speciality) or Socca (a chickpea pancake another Nicois specialty) go hand in hand with a glass of Bellet rosé.