Domain Belluard- founded in 1947- stretches over 10 hectares in the small village of Ayse right in the middle of the Arve Valley half way between Geneva and Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. Dominique Belluard runs one of the Alps’oldest vineyard planted with indigenous grape variety Gringet that cannot be found anywhere else around the world. Currently there are only 22 hectares of Gringet left, half of which is exploited by the Belluards. The other half being exploited by a handful of small winegrowers. The Belluards’ property used to be covered with fruit trees and Dominique’s parents exploited the orchards till well into the 1980’s. It was only in 1988- after he studied oenology in Beaune- that Dominique Belluard took over the domain and focused on production and vinification. “Observation and constant assessment of the vineyard lead us to protect and take the utmost care of the vines by integrating all surrounding natural elements and always looking for the right balance between plants, animals and the mineral world which meant giving up pesticides and chemicals. Today we are putting emphasis on bringing out the typicity of our wines that’s why the main focus is to cultivate the vineyards by respecting winemaking traditions and terroirs”. These practices explain why the domain converted to biodynamic viticulture as early as 2001.
Why that ? the argument put forward by Dominique is that biodynamic methods are the only possible answers to the laws of the living world. He goes on to say that if you use chemicals –even at reasonable doses- it won’t be long before you realize there is something wrong with such practices that creates imbalance as our natural environment is entirely based on the laws of the living. The vines’ roots go deep into the subsoil which is not simply an ordinary bed for plants but a world of exchange between the vegetal ( roots, mushrooms, yeasts etc…) the animal ( insects, worms, bacteria etc…) and the mineral worlds (rocks, clay, alluvium etc…). It was in 2003 that we first met Dominique. He was accompanied by Patrick Meyer -of domain Julien Meyer in Alsace- who was probably an inspiration to him. Over the last few years our tastings of their wines have revealed a deep change of direction: the wines are more precise, more vibrant, more energetic and full of life. In these wines, minerality takes on full meaning whether it be in sparkling and Gringet-based “Les Perles”or in the great cuvee “Le Feu”, ça cause là-dedans.