Today I would like to shine a light on the incredible Château de Bel-Air and the single vineyard wine of Lalande de Pomerol. In 2011, Michel and Christel de Laet Derache acquired Château de Bel-Air, with the intention of restoring the nobility of the terroir and reputation of the cru by producing an incredible wine in the appellation.
As a fifth generation banker, Michel seemed to be entering the vigneron world blind, however a journey across France with his father, Joseph, where they encountered the highly prestigious Petrus '47 inspired his great love for wine and a drive to one day create fine wine himself.
The chateau consists of 15.6 hectares of right bank varietals: 73% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon.
“Our desire is to get involved in this magnificent terroir (of Lalande de Pomerol) by favouring the excellence of the work! Our intention is to invest as much in the land and the vines as in the cellars to provide them with the qualitative elements with a view to becoming one of the leaders of the Lalande de Pomerol appellation. Evolution is Tradition." Michel and Christel de Laet Derache, owners
Michel's investments include conducting a meticulous pedological study of the terroir to determine the cultural units (type of terroir, grape variety, age of the vines) that currently sit in the holdings. In 2013, the reorganisation of the vines and production process began, with completion in 2015. This work involved creating a vat room made up of small vats corresponding to the growing units in order to obtain the best from each unit. Eventually, the cellar will be restored so that each of these batches can be aged in optimal conditions. The investments will also work to reduce the environmental impact of the business.
The Château de Bel-Air vineyard is located on a small hill bordering the Barbanne valley, a small stream separating Bel-Air from Pomerol. This "croup" is entirely made up of quaternary alluvial formations which come in three distinct types of soil. Gravelly soils represent 70% of the Estate, with the rest split into gravel-clay soils and sandy-gravelly soils. Michel's team of oenologists include François Despagne and Thomas Duclos, both highly renowned in the field of vine growing and champion sustainable viticulture. The average age of the vines is 36 years, all homogeneous.
Once in the vat room, the grapes are all sorted multiple times to ensure the machine harvest did not damage any grapes and the best are selected for vinification. Distributed into each of the smaller vats based on their plots, varietal, and age, the pressing and fermentation then takes place, with pumping over adapted based upon the vat. The wines are then drained with the residue then pressed in a pneumatic press. Aging and refining then occurs in Bordeaux barrels, the proportion of which in new barrels will depend on the vintage – usually around 40%. Aged for one year, the wine is then assembled and bottled around 20 months after harvest.
Chateau de Bel-Air Lalande de Pomerol is an exquisite blend which Michel de Laet Derache has brought to life with the pure intent of representing the noble terroir.