Bellet is the name of a small “Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée” i.e. viticultural area in Provence, just north of Nice and the planted area is only 60 hectares (150 acres). We recently spent a day winetasting, talking to local winemakers and learning about new (for us) grape varietals with historic roots in the area.
We met with the owner/winemaker of Domaine de Toasc, Bernard Nicoletti, who gave us a great tasting experience of his wines and we had a lively discussion of running a small winery in a small AOC. He has steep vineyards overlooking the valley and we felt immediately at home.
Most of the Bellet grape varieties were unknown to us prior to this visit. Braquet is used to make Rosé wine and I really liked the flavorful Rosé of Domaine de Toasc. It has enough acidity to balance the flavors of exotic fruit and the nose has a pleasant hint of blackberry and carambola. The Braquet grape is apparently not so heavy in color which allows skin contact for 8-12 hours before pressing. That probably explains the nice flavors as there is enough time with the whole grape in contact with the juice. While I usually do not favor Rosé wines this became an instant hit with me and several bottles made their way home with me.
Another red varietal in this region is Folle Noire which is used in red blends with Grenache and Braquet. These red wines have round tannins, radiant red colors, strawberry and cherry on the nose which continues on the palate in addition to an herbal tone of “garrigue”, a local shrub plant. A white grape variety, Rolle was also a new acquaintance for me and it is produced either in stainless steel for a more mineral style or in oak barrels adding floral and vanilla tones.
All in all a pleasant day of tasting wines in a small AOC with delightful winemakers, beautiful views and new grape acquaintances. The proximity to Nice, it is literally just outside the city, means that you can make a daytrip to this area if you happen to be on holiday there.