Domaine Belle has an interesting history. In the 1600’s, vines were grown in vineyards around the Chateau de Larnage and all the land and produce belonged to the Lord of Larnage. Each villager had to give three days unpaid corvee labour (one for pruning, one for ploughing and another for the grape harvest).
In 1769, at a village assembly called by Claude François Mure, the new Lord of Larnage, each family was granted a small parcel of land with vines for their personal use.
From these feudal times the family holding gradually expanded, until in the 1930s it consisted of several neighbouring plots whose grapes were made into wine and sold locally.
A great change took place when Louis Belle (Philippe’s grandfather) took over the property. In fact, while Louis Belle loved growing vines, he didn’t much like making the wine and in 1933 he became a founder member of the Tain l’Hermitage wine-making cooperative. This great winegrower also acquired some superb parcels of land in the communes of Larnage and Tain l’Hermitage. When Louis handed the land on to his son Albert in the 1970s, the holding consisted of 4ha spread over two communes (Larnage and Tain).
Passionate about vines and wine, Albert Belle started to make wine for himself and his friends. In 1990, under the impetus provided by Albert’s son Philippe, who had recently returned from studying œnology, winemaking moved to the forefront with the creation of Domaine Belle. Together Albert and Philippe built a modern, functional winery, giving them the means to produce great wines which respect the terroir of the individual appellations.
From then the Domaine’s wine-growing land expanded rapidly, including various soil types (galets and granite) and different appellations (St Joseph), to arrive at 20ha in the 2000s.
Since Albert’s retirement in 2003, Phillipe has continued alone; passionate about his work, committed to protecting his terroirs and about making the wines from Larnage known around the world.
In 2006, the purchase of a small neighbouring vineyard in the commune of Crozes-Hermitage led to the enlarging and modernization of the Domaine’s winery, which took place in 2007.
2006 was also the year in which a new cuvee respecting the terroir was first produced – ‘Roche Pierre’.
The Domaine has always been a family holding, passed on from generation to generation, promoting the special Larnage terroir with its white clays, often called ‘Les Terres Blanches’.
Today, Domaine Belle stretches over six communes (Larnage, Crozes-Hermitage, Tain l’Hermitage, Pont de l’Isère, Mercurol and Tournon), three appellations (Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Saint Joseph) and covers an area of 25ha of vines, to which you must add apricot orchards and the vine nursery managed by Philippe’s brother, Jean-Claude.
And the story is set to continue with Philippe’s son Guillaume’s interest in winemaking and his future role in the Domaine.
• Clay Limestones
This soil is composed of white limestone clay also known as Kaolin.
The vines can root to great depths to seek out the minerals they need for healthy growth.
Larnage is the only commune in the Croze-Hermitage appellation to benefit from this type of soil.
On this soil we produce the following:
- Crozes-Hermitage blanc Les Terres Blanches
- Crozes-Hermitage blanc Roche Blanche
- Crozes-Hermitage rouge Cuvée Louis BELLE
Granite is a rock made up of small quartz and feldspar crystals, which breaks down and cracks, leaving a red-brown gravel on the surface. This type of soil can be found in Larnage, Crozes and Tournon.
On this soil we produce the following:
- Crozes-Hermitage rouge Roche Pierre
- St Joseph rouge Les Rivoires
Terraces of rounded pebbles (galets), worn smooth by the Rhone and associated with red clay soils are found In the commune of Pont d’Isere in the south of the Crozes-Hermitage appellation.
On this soil we produce:
- Crozes-Hermitage rouge Les Pierrelles
• Permeable limestone, sand and gravel
Limestone soils with a southern exposure producing our prestigious:
- Hermitage blanc
- Hermitage rouge