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Château Bellevue Gazin gives new drive to tourism in Blaye

Winegrower Bordeaux
Château Bellevue Gazin gives new drive to tourism in Blaye

Château Bellevue Gazin

Appellation: Premières côtes de BLAYE
Size of the vineyard:
15 hectares on slopes
Number of vines per hectare: 5 500
Average age of the vines: 40 years old
Vine growing methods: Natural grassing-down between the rows and weeding on each row. Trellising, de-budding, leaf-thinning and green harvests by hand. Vineyard managed plot by plot and rational vine treatments.
Wine-making: In cement and stainless steel vats. Maceration is done at cold temperature for 8 days. Slow fermentation is carried out over a period of 15 to 20 days. Procedures include punching the cap, pumping over and temperatures are regulated for fermentation. Vertical press with controlled pressure.
Maturation: 12 months in 1/3 de new barrels.
Maturation in vats for “Les Baronnets”
and “Lers-Loumède”.

Château Bellevue-Gazin
Alain et Anne-Sophie LANCEREAU

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Buy a wine estate and incorporate it into a project for culture and tourism: this was the promise that a recently married couple, Anne-Sophie and Alain Lancereau, made themselves when they were learning about wine at the Savour Club and trying their hand at wine-making in Libya. And the promise has been kept! Since 2003, they have skilfully brought back to life the wine estate Château Bellevue Gazin in the Blaye area.

Terroir expression is primarily achieved by attentive vine growing

Situated at the peak of the Plassac hillside, a privileged area in the Côtes de Blaye on the frontier between the lands of the south and north of France, Château Bellevue Gazin stretches across 20 hectares in total, with 15 hectares under vine. This estate has a rich historical legacy: on this site stood a Gallo-Roman villa, where vines were already grown in 100 AD! The property’s name is quite fitting, because from here one has a magnificent, unobstructed view of the estuary.
The estate grows a range of grape varieties: Merlot is planted in majority (70%), along with Malbec (also known as Cot) (15%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) and Petit Verdot (5%). The basis of Merlot ensures the wines possess suppleness and unctuousness, as well as hints of blackcurrant and red fruits. Malbec brings a spicy touch, rather like cinnamon or ginger, and in some years a slight hint of violet or rose can be perceived on the first taste. Aromas of cooked red fruit come from the Cabernet Sauvignon. Petit Verdot is not grown frequently in this area; it is a lively, tannic variety that provides liveliness on the final taste and prolongs the wine’s flavour.
Following the recommendations of Olivier Dauga, the “wine-maker” as he calls himself, the estate makes two fruity, pleasant wines: Château Bellevue Gazin, the first wine (matured in oak barrels; yields for this vineyard are kept low, at 35 hectolitres per hectare) and Château Lers-Loumède, which comes from a vineyard that covers just five and a half hectares, purchased in January 2004.
“It’s attentiveness given to the vines that guides us” explain Alain and Anne-Sophie Lancereau. Soil analysis, spreading of organic matter as of 2004 and the decision to use rational vine treatments are all beginning to show their results in terms of the grapes’ quality. Low yields encourage good pollination. For the first wine, pruning is severe (3 to 4 buds per cane). Leaf-thinning and green harvests require a great deal of regular effort from vine grower. The results enable the grapes to have extremely high levels of anthocyanins, which are essential for making wines with ageing potential.
During the harvests, great care is taken in ensuring that the grapes have reached a stage of perfect ripeness. The harvests are hand-picked for the first wine.
After a week of maceration at cold temperature, a slow alcoholic fermentation begins and the temperature is regulated at 27°C, which avoids the risk of having any harsh tannin, which is extracted when temperatures exceed 30°C.
A proportion of the first wine is then stored in oak barrels (one third new, one third one year, and the remaining third two years). Then during the next three months, for five hours each day, the lees are stirred up in the barrels; this will ensure there is more glycerol, which will bring the wines full-body and unctuousness.

“We now achieve a pure, tangible expression” Alain Lancereau tells us with delight. One can sense the enthusiasm of this man who originates from Bergerac and has succeeded in his change of profession and region. He was formerly a senior manager and his wife, Anne-Sophie, gave lessons in art history. The hectic pace of Parisian life, their four children, years of a shared love of wine and sculpture naturally led them to build their project and bestow their estate with a genuine specificity.

A reputation established within three years

The 2003 vintage possesses every quality: extremely tannic, powerful, with hints of cooked, slightly over-ripe red fruit, it has wonderful freshness. The 2004, awarded a gold medal, is more elegant and well-balanced, with marvellous length on the palate. Alain and Anne-Sophie tell us that the tremendously powerful and expressive 2005 will be exceptional, as are wines of this vintage in general.

Some comments about the fruits of their endeavours …
The first wine
The 2003 was given two stars in the 2005 Hachette wine guide and a silver medal at the ‘Bordeaux and Aquitaine Wines’ competition in 2005, as well as the Prestige Trophy (bronze medal) at the ‘Citadelles’ competition held during Vinexpo in 2005.

2004 received the ‘Citadelles’ Trophy (gold medal) at the ‘Citadelles’ competition held during Vinexpo 2007.

"Les Baronnets”
The 2004 was awarded a star in the 2006 Hachette wine guide and received the ‘Excellence’ Trophy (silver medal) at the ‘Citadelles’ Trophy competition held during Vinexpo 2007.
You should note that ratings ranging from 13 to 15 out of twenty were given by the 2008 “Bettane & Dessauve” guide and this wine was also mentioned in the “Dussert & Gerber” guide.
At the beginning of the last century, this estate appears in the “Féret” as one of the first crus bourgeois, which indicates the quality and outstanding features of its terroir.
The estate also produces a Clairet, which was singled out as one of “the rosés of the summer” by the “Revue des vins de France” last summer.

Meticulousness is ensured for all stages of wine-making and this estate is now looking for export markets and is seeking sales partnerships. The destinations targeted are northern Europe, Great Britain and most importantly the United States. Château Bellevue Gazin has already been picked out in blind-tastings held in certain wine circles in New York…

Projects for wine tourism

The success of this project certainly lies in diversification, but primarily in conviviality, in pleasure shared and discoveries enjoyed together. For Alain and Anne-Sophie Lancereau, this project is a combination of lifestyle choice and economic strategy, where talents accumulate and business activity as well as the quality of their wine increase considerably. Anne-Sophie Lancereau belongs to a modern art and sculpture association, along with a few friends who are fine-arts enthusiasts. At Château Bellevue Gazin a workshop will be dedicated to painting on porcelain, oils and water colours… Each work of art will then become a part of the Château’s permanent exhibition, in the porcelain collection.
Sculpture, gastronomy or wine tasting will be the main workshops organised in 2008 by these business people and art enthusiasts. Alain and Anne-Sophie Lancereau are looking into all means of developing this estate by offering the opportunity of sharing its tradition and values. They both speak several languages (they even have some notions of Russian and Arabic) and are eager to receive visitors; they have already opened five guest rooms and, assisted by their wine tourism manager, Laurent Zanna, they are determined to succeed with these projects.
In 2008, they are organising gastronomic weekends in the low-season. They offer visitors the opportunity to explore the diversity of local wines and Cognac too, in the neighbouring area. They will reveal the techniques of tasting, as well as matching food and wine … These are concepts which promise to be extremely successful.
A considerable advantage for attracting tourists is the strategic position of the Blaye area; it faces the Médoc, which is accessible by ferry, and is located not far from Saint-Emilion. Last, but not least, you will undoubtedly be charmed by Alain and Anne-Sophie Lancereau and the warmth of their welcome.