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Pierre Gauthier unlocking a Cabernet Franc secret


Just this past Saturday, our very own Derek Kilpin and Charlotte Dagueneau were standing with Pierre Gauthier (pictured) of Domaine du Bel Air in the village of Benais, as he pointed to vineyard holdings on the map with a big iron key. Together with the group of customers they were hosting, they walked 100 meters down the road to taste through his Cabernet Francs overlooking his Clos Nouveau vineyard. Today we officially release the wines from our first allocation from Pierre Gauthier’s Domaine du Bel Air.

Dear Reader,

Domaine du Bel Air is a certified organic estate that has been creating traditional wines from Bourgueil for the past five generations. Pierre Gauthier, a master of Cabernet Franc, has farmed 18 hectares in the village of Benais since 1979. He was joined by his son, Rodolphe, in 2005.

One of the highlights of the trip…The less well-known appellation of Bourgueil, when in the hands of a supremely focussed wine family like this, packs an enormous qualitative punch. There is so much great energy, passion and pride in what they do- wonderful humans and big thanks to them for spending all that time with our group. Everyone was blown away. Derek Kilpin, Great Domaines Co-Owner & General Manager

Pierre believes that 18 hectares is the maximum they can farm without compromising the level of attention they feel their wines deserve. From their holdings, a fair amount of them are blended to make the flagship cuvée, ”Les Vingt Lieux Dits”. A select few, however, are vinified separately. These include very special parcels of vines belonging to the Gauthiers in the lieux-dits (single sites) of ”Les Marsaules” (3 hectares) and ”Le Grand Mont” (1.3 hectares). Then, there is the ”Clos Nouveau” which Pierre Gauthier purchased in 2005, making the family just the third owners of this 1.2 hectare vineyard since the French Revolution.

All Domaine du Bel Air wines are made within the Bourgueil appellation, and all are 100% Cabernet Franc. We have three of the wines available today: ”Jour de Soif” 2021, ”Les Vingt Lieux Dits” 2020 and ”Les Marsaules” 2018. The two others, ”Le Grand Mont” 2018 and ”Clos Nouveau” 2018 are not made available on this release offer – for the simple reason that we received so little of them. Please speak to your Account Manager about what availability there is.

Like most of the Loire producers now making up GD’s porfolio, our introduction to Pierre Gauthier and Domaine du Bel Air was through our very own Charlotte Dagueneau. It is very special to be able to offer these wines to our customers. We look forward to hearing what you think of them. Santé!

Domaine du Bel Air
”Les Vingt Lieux Dits”

Appellation Bourgueil Contrôlée

R 375 per bottle 

Domaine du Bel Air
”Jour de Soif”

Appellation Bourgueil Contrôlée

R 295 per bottle 

Domaine du Bel Air
”Les Marsaules”

Appellation Bourgueil Contrôlée

R 535 per bottle 

”Jour de Soif” is the entry-level cuvée from Bel Air. Vins de Soif refers to wines that are easy-drinking and/or drinking well now – ”thirst quenchers” essentially. Pierre Gauthier’s ”Jour de Soif” arguably deserves a different name as its structure will support this wine in cellaring for 3-5 years. It is a Cabernet Franc that is vinified in stainless steel tanks with focus very much on freshness as opposed to extraction and grip.

”Les Vingt Lieux Dits” is a blend of specific parcels (average age of 40 years) planted on clay and silty soils, on south-facing slopes. The pressed juice undergoes a gentle extraction and vinification takes place in vats. The élevage takes place in a mix of third-fill, fourth-fill barrels and 600-litre demi-muids for 12 months.

The single-vineyard wine, ”Les Marsaules”, is produced from a 60-year-old (on average) parcel. Vinification takes place in open-top vats with some pigeage to aid extraction. The élevage is three years in older barrels.