The Bellet vineyard
A southern wine with character!
The only urban vineyard with an AOC
The Bellet vineyard is located on the left bank of the river Var, at an altitude of between 200 and 300 meters. The vineyards of the hills of Nice are unique in that they are located on the Mediterranean coast, in the municipality of Nice. The terroir extends over the Crémat and Saquier hills and around Saint-Roman-de-Bellet.
The Bellet vineyard is one of the oldest in France, and was awarded the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée status in 1941.
Bellet’s vineyards enjoy plenty of sunshine and a special micro-climate, due to their high altitude and the almost uninterrupted winds that blow through the valley. The presence of the Var valley allows the winds to circulate.
The specific meso-climate leads to late harvests, giving Bellet wines a more northern than southern character.
This climate corresponds to a Mediterranean climate. Frosts are rare (2 or 3 nights a year) and mild (the annual minimum is around -1 or -2°C). As a result, winters are mild and wet, and summers hot and very dry, as the city of Nice is protected from winds coming from the north and west by the Alps barrier.
Summer rainfall is extremely low, averaging 15.6 millimeters in July. Autumn, on the other hand, is a period marked by frequent rainfall (108.2 millimetres in October) and violent thunderstorms caused by the temperature of the Mediterranean seawater, which is still very warm at this time of year (20° – 24°).
Some years, during this period, we have to contend with the sirocco, which brings a small heat wave and transports Saharan sand.
Bellet’s vineyards are planted with original grape varieties producing aromatic white wines, silky, fresh rosés and full-bodied reds.
A little history
The Bellet vineyard is one of France’s oldest terroirs. Its cultivation dates back to the founding of Marseille.
Throughout the Middle Ages, Provence and Nice as part of it, developed their wine trade. The abbeys, including Saint-Pons in Nice, earned the most important revenues.
During the French Revolution, the hamlet of Saint-Roman de Bellet, at the heart of the appellation, was named Bacchus, reflecting the region’s viticultural vocation. Phylloxera and the two world wars led to a dramatic drop in vine acreage, and growers turned to the more lucrative Nice carnation.
A decree published in the Journal Officiel on November 11, 1941 classified Bellet’s vineyards as AOC.
Its production, weakened by the phylloxera invasion of 1885 and the damage caused by the two world wars, was maintained mainly thanks to the efforts of a wine merchant who reconstituted a vineyard from 1946 onwards.
Château de Bellet
As for “Le Château de Bellet”, Ghislain de Charnacé has been successfully defending the typicity and quality of Bellet wines since 1970. In 2012, he sold his vineyards to a leading company in the management of vineyard land groups. This company has given a real boost to the estate, almost doubling its surface area to 11 hectares. This investment is part of a program called “Grands Vignobles de France”.
Although Ghislain de Charnacé has sold the land, his family retains ownership of the park and the château, which dates back to the 17th and 19th centuries. And he himself remains at the helm of the operation and winemaking, as an “advisor” involved in “all decisions”.
Château de Bellet accompanies the most prestigious occasions: the Versailles summit in 1982, the European summit in Nice in 2000 and NATO in 2005.
The grape varieties authorized by the appellation decree are rolle and chardonnay for the whites; folle noire, braquet, grenache and cinsault for the reds. But rolle and braquet, typical Nice varieties, account for the major part of production. The small surface area of the appellation, the respect for tradition in harvesting and vinification, and the quality of the taste make Bellet wines rare and highly appreciated.
Bellet red wines are full-bodied and perfect to accompany the traditional daube. The whites are aromatic. Rosés enhance the flavor of socca niçoise. Bellet can be kept unaltered for many years.