Monday, August 1, 2011

M. Chapoutier Cotes du Rhone "Belleruche"

According to Michel Chapoutier, one of the most difficult tasks of a vineyardist is to make serious, high-quality wines that remain good values. In the 2009 Belleruche Blanc, he accomplishes just that. This was a sample sent to me a few weeks ago by the good folks at Terlato, owners of one of the more impressive wine portfolios in the business.

Michel Chapoutier is both winemaker and negotiant in the Rhone region of France. After inheriting his family's winery, he set about to change everything starting. The changes began back in 1989 and haven't stopped since. From biodynamic farming to modern equipment, Michel turned a languishing yet famous Rhone winery into a critically acclaimed, world famous label. During my research for this blog I learned that Chapoutier now owns vineyards in every major Rhone appellation, something no other producer has accomplished.

The 2009 M. Chapoutier Cotes du Rhone Belleruche Blanc is a blend, as are most Rhone wines. This vintage is a blend of 60% grenache blanc, 20% clairette, and 20% bourboulenc. Those aren't varietals seen in the United States much, outside Randall Graham's plantings of course, but in France they're all integral components of white wine from the Rhone Valley.

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The 2009 Belleruche is a wine geek's wine. With that blend of grapes and the relative scarcity of white Cotes du Rhone wines here in Southern California, it's something I was beyond excited to get. I've tasted some of the M. Chapoutier wines in the psat, during my previous life in wine retail, and always found them to be delicious, expressive, and well made. It goes without saying that I hope to sample more of the Chapoutier wines in the future.

I pulled the bottle from the fridge about an hour before tasting it. Pulled the cork, set it on the counter-top to gently warm up. While a lot of white wines (we can safely say "most white wines") are made to be consumed at low temperatures, I find that by allowing the wine to warm up slightly will do a lot to help me evaluate the balance, acid levels, and fruit profiles.

When I first smelled the 2009 Belleruche Blanc, I was struck by the beautiful golden apple and jasmine aromas. There was something else present too, an exotic fruit that was like a kiwi and pineapple smashed together, to make a kiwiapple. Secondary aromas included a touch of herb and a dash of wet rock, all things that I enjoy finding in white wines.

Tasting this Cotes du Rhone white wine is also a fun experience. It's rich and coats your palate, but also retains lots of acidity. I liked the apple and green herb flavors, a nice fat dollop of stone fruit was thrown in for good measure. There was a bit of an oily richness lending some body and allowing this wine to stand up to food, it would make a great foil to grilled fish or blackened chicken. One of the things that impressed me the most had to be the finish, very elegant and drawn out. The richness that held up the mid-palate carried over into the finish and helped ease my palate into the next sip.

In case you couldn't tell, I throughly enjoyed the 2009 Chaptoutier Belleruche. As I work to move beyond rating wines, I can say this is a highly recommended white wine, one of the more interesting wines I've tasted lately. Plenty of friendliness to play well with enough intrigue to make a wine geek happy. At a suggested retail of only $12.99 and a production of 20,000 cases, there's a lot to go around. Pick up a few bottles and give it a go next time you grill up some chicken breast.

This was a media sample for review purposes.

Beau Carufel


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who lets some whites warm up a little before I drink them! :)

    The blend in and of itself makes me want to seek it out. Your tasting notes only fuel that desire...just so you know. LOL

  2. As a rule, when I taste white wines I do let them warm up a bit but when I actually sit down and drink the wines, I do prefer them with a chill. Letting the wine warm up allows me to get a better sense of it's acidity and balance. :-)