The 'Queen' of Wine, Jancis Robinson OBE, MW describes the appellation of Bellet in the hills above Nice as 'historic, distinctive but miniscule' in her seminal tome 'The Oxford Companion to Wine'. If you had to opt for a four word summary of an enclave of viticulture, you could do worse. With around 70 hectares under vine, perched around 200 to 300m above sea level in the hills above Nice, it is a necessarily niche area of grape cultivation. Having originally farmed cattle before diversifying into flower cultivation, the Dalmasso family began making wine in 1991. Today, brother and sister Eric and Carine tend 7 hectares of vines at their Domaine de la Source consisting of several elevated parcels on steep, free-draining plots that benefit from Alpine meltwater and cooling sea breezes. The soils are a mixture of sand and alluvial rock deposits (known locally and uniquely as poudinge), and the vines are grown in tightly tiered terraces called restanques.
Eric and Carine's white Bellet wine is made from pure Rolle (Vermentino) that is hand-harvested at optimum maturity. It has apricot and wildflower scents and an elegant palate of white stone-fruit with herbal undertones and a long, dry finish. It drinks well on its own as an aperitif and makes a versatile accompaniment to all manner of seafood. Its rosé Bellet wine stablemate is made from the local Braquet Noir grape and has an attractive coral-pink colour, alluring red fruit aromas and delicate wild strawberry and raspberry flavours. It is ideal for drinking outdoors ideally in the sunshine. Completing the range is a redoubtable red wine blended from 80% Folle Noir and 20% Grenache Noir. With a dark purple robe, a hedgerow berry bouquet and autumnal fruit palate, it has peppery undertones and tannins that will support up to a decade's bottle age. A fine foil for Provençale cuisine, opening a bottle or two with a roast gigot d'agneau liberally stuffed with rosemary and garlic would be perfect.