This is a wine that I appear to have badly misjudged when tasting out of barrel. I had the bottled 2006 Bellevue several times, and it was consistently hard, austere, and lean. Generally I love what this great terroir, surrounded by such famous names as Angelus and the two Beausejours, can produce. Moreover, there is no doubting the genius of the two men responsible for this wine, Nicolas Thienpont and Stephane Derenoncourt. Nevertheless, I was surprised to see just how hard, austere, and angular this wine is. It is hard to find any charm or deep, concentrated, ripe fruit in this muscular, structured, forbiddingly tannic, and seemingly out of balance wine.
This terroir is superbly situated between Beausejour Duffau and Beau-Sejour-Becot, with Angelus within shouting distance. Bellevue has been managed by Stephane Derenoncourt and Nicolas Thienpont since 2000, and when St.-Emilion does its next new classification (in 2016), I would not be surprised to see this estate upgraded to a premier grand cru classe. A blend of 94% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc, cropped at a remarkably low 30-36 hectoliters per hectare, the 2006 represents the essence of terroir with its crushed rock/steely notes intermixed with flower, black raspberry, cherry, and blackberry characteristics. It is a full-bodied, dense, rich, powerful, moderately tannic offering with a broad texture, sensational purity, and an exceptionally long finish. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2025+.
Bright purple. Bright, ripe purple berries on the nose. Almost Italianate structure with its focus and bite on the finish. Quite dry tannins with real sap. Very drying finish though.
Château Bellevue was the property of the de Conink and Pradel de Lavaux families, also owners of the historic negociant house of Horeau-Beylot. In 2007, Chateau Angélus acquired a 50% share in the company. This purchase was motivated as much by the geographical situation of the chateau, next-door to Angélus, as well as chateaux Beaséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse and Beau-Séjour Bécot, as by the exceptional quality of its terroir. The vines of Château Bellevue are located around a hilltop of hard rock, on one of the slopes of Saint Emilion, with a maximum height of 75 meters. At their summit on the chalk plateau, they neighbour the Premier Grand Cru Classés Beausejour-Bécot and Beausejour Duffau-Lagarosse with another Premier Grand Cru Classé, Château Angelus, at their base. As its name indicates, Château Bellevue and its marvellous park, dominate the whole valley with its south/southwest facing vineyards sloping away from the property. At the top of the slope, the soil (of marine origin), rich in magnesium and iron, contains quite a high percentage of clay. These quality clays, with a delicately layered structure, become chalkier closer to the summit. Closer to the bottom, the level of chalk in the soil diminishes. Lower again, the soils are sandy with little chalk and therefore more acidic. This diversity of soils and their variety of terroirs all contribute to the complexity and the nobility of the wines produced by Château Bellevue.
South of Pomerol lies the medieval, perched village of St Emilion. Surrounding St Emilion are vines that produce round, rich and often hedonistic wines. Despite a myriad of soil types, two main ones dominate - the gravelly, limestone slopes that delve down to the valley from the plateau and the valley itself which is comprised of limestone, gravel, clay and sand. Despite St Emilion's popularity today, it was not until the 1980s to early 1990s that attention was brought to this region. Robert Parker, the famous wine critic, began reviewing their Merlot-dominated wines and giving them hefty scores. The rest is history as they say. Similar to the Médoc, there is a classification system in place which dates from 1955 and outlines several levels of quality. These include its regional appellation of St Emilion, St Emilion Grand Cru, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé and St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, which is further divided into "A" (Ausone and Cheval Blanc) and "B" (including Angélus, Canon, Figeac and a handful of others). To ensure better accuracy, the classification is redone every 10 years enabling certain châteaux to be upgraded or downgraded depending on on the quality of their more recent vintages.