Domaine de Bel-Air has a deeply rooted history in Beaujolais dating back almost 180 years. Somewhat poetically, the original estate house of the Domaine is perched on the hill of Bel-Air overlooking the town of Beaujeu, capital of the Beaujolais region. But despite this long history, the destiny of the Domaine dramatically changed in 1986 when Jean-Marc Lafont, current owner with his wife Annick, took over the estate.
Jean-Marc immediately took a different approach. In 1989, the vineyards started to be grown without chemicals and since 2009 they have been grown organically. To have his vineyard’s soil develop a biodiversity is a vision Jean-Marc cherishes. This biodiversity is essential to elaborate distinctive wines, which are synonymous with the location at which they are produced. Under the watch of Jean-Marc, the Domaine’s holding has been consolidated to 23 hectares in total.
Jean-Marc’s father worked at Domaine de Bel-Air and Jean-Marc grew up running around the vineyard and helping out where possible. He has strong memories of his childhood at Domaine de Bel-Air and still remembers the different aromas floating around in the winery from that time. It is that love affair and a deep connection that drove him to buy the Domaine and work as hard as possible to bring it to where it is today. You can identify that positive energy in his wines.
Today, the Domaine has exceptionally old vineyards located in Beaujolais’ prime locations within the appellations of Morgon, Brouilly, Fleurie, Régnié and Moulin à Vent. Jean-Marc’s experience coupled with his natural curiosity, provide him with a profound understanding of his native region.
Jean-Marc has seen the region evolve from the mass production of inexpensive wines to more terroir* driven wines of extreme finesse. What’s more, he has always led the charge to improve the quality of the wines by experimenting with new methods in order to enhance the limitless resources of the Beaujolais soils. From blue or rose granite to clay, manganese or schist, the variation of soils on the hills of the different Beaujolais villages brings fantastic diversity.
The wines from Morgon, Brouilly and Fleurie are generous with vibrant red and black fruits, floral notes and spice. The colour oscillates from deep red to black and shows you how intense these wines are. An intensity that is very seductive and driven. The Moulin à Vent on the other end is more structured, spicy with some hints of violet and truffle when aged a bit.
There are two special cuvées produced from two of the best vineyards of the Domaine with an average age of 80 years old that undergo oak maturation for 12 to 15 months. These two cuvées, Brouilly “Gorge de Loup” and Moulin à Vent “Granit et Manganèse” are examples of the capacity of certain Beaujolais vineyards to perform like a 1er or Grand Cru from Burgundy, its northern neighbour. These two cuvées can age for more than 15 years and be incredibly complex and impressive.
Clos Cachet is honoured to import Domaine de Bel-Air’s wine into Australia. Jean-Marc’s vision and generosity are inspiring and his wines are a must have in your cellar.
*Terroir is the specific combination of location, vineyard, climate and people that create a wine. Accordingly, different terroirs produce different wines.