Collection Bellenum

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Collection Bellenum: The Importance

The affable, dynamic and incredibly well-connected Nicolas Potel runs three businesses in Burgundy. Firstly, he produces his own wines under the name Domaine de Bellene, which comprises approximately 15-20 hectares of organic vines between Santenay and Vosne-Romanée. Secondly, he acts as a négociant under the name Maison Roche de Bellene – Bellene being the old name for Beaune – which he told The Telegraph sources top quality in a "Savile Row rather than an off-the-peg style" . And finally, he uncovers high quality parcels of older Burgundy hidden in the dusty cellars of little-known producers, which he labels and sells under the name Collection Bellenum. These latter wines are a dream come true for fans of mature Burgundy interested in venturing off the beaten track.

 

Jancis Robinson notes that “it is not easy to find mature Burgundy of unimpeachable provenance available for sale”, but in her article entitled “How to buy older Burgundy”, she highlights Nicolas Potel’s Collection Bellenum as the solution to that particular problem. Collection Bellenum is “a wonderful treasury of serious older Burgundies” that “magnificently reflect the reality of Burgundy in that they are very varied, provide a thoroughly useful overview of how different vintage are developing, and includes some completely stunning wines.”

 

FINE+RARE was lucky enough to be visited by Nicolas Potel in October 2017 and the entire team was blown away by his wines. The freshness, character and huge potential longevity of these intriguing wines make them a startling proposition. The thing that strikes you tasting through these wines is the revelation that there is no such thing as a bad vintage, or at least that some that you might have previously written off can mature beautifully and produce truly exquisite and unique wines.

 

Collection Bellenum: The Insight

A man of pedigree and definitely one to watch, Nicolas Potel hails from Volnay in Côte de Beaune and was brought up on Domaine de la Pousse d’Or, where his father worked. Clive Coates MW describes Nicolas’ father and teacher Gérard Potel as “one of Burgundy’s most respected winemakers”, an assertion proven by the fact that Christophe Roumier lists Gérard Potel and Jacques Seysses of Dujac as his heroes.

 

Nicolas Potel’s wine education was not solely limited to his paternal side. He describes his mother as “a great taster” and, with a glint in his eye, recalls meals in his childhood accompanied by old Burgundy dating back to the 1920s. An old friend of Ernst Loosen, Nicolas Potel has worked at Moss Wood in Margaret River and Roumier in Chambolle-Musigny, not to mention stints in Meursault, Sonoma and Bío Bío. After the death of his father, friends at Roumier, Lafon and Jean-Marc Boillot sold grapes to Nicolas to help him set up his business. Combine these connections, with his passion and encyclopaedic knowledge of Burgundy and the winemakers he works with, and it becomes obvious that he is extremely well-placed to select what Jancis Robinson calls: “Potel’s mouthwatering Collection Bellenum of mature Burgundies”.

 

Collection Bellenum provides access to wines dating back to the 1950s. Sourcing thousands of hundreds of different wines from around thirty domains, it is a real treasure trove. Nicolas Potel and his team of three other tasters look for purity, vintage character and wines that are made for food. They taste many, but very few are chosen, only those that meet the approval of all four team members. Although they don’t divulge who made the wines, it is worth noting that not all of the corks are replaced, so as Jancis Robinson notes, they will appeal to cork inspectors as: “part of the charm of the Collection Bellenum will be the detective work”.

 

Although they don’t tell you who made them, the labels do express how many bottles were in each lot and the date that they were moved from the original cellar to Collection Bellenum. Potel likens this to Champagne’s disgorgement date, providing a passport of provenance.

 

Collection Bellenum: The Background

After the death of his father, Nicholas Potel set up his négociant business in 1997. This was later taken over by Maison Labouré-Roi’s Cottin brothers, although Potel remained involved until around 2008/2009. He is now no longer part of the domaine that bears his name and instead works under the monikers Domaine de Bellene and Maison Roche de Bellene. When he set up on his own Nicolas realised that he didn’t have any older vintages to serve while entertaining. He therefore started looking around, talking to those hidden gem producers that only a true insider knows. He purchased large chunks of their collections, wines that may have sat undisturbed for centuries because nobody came knocking or for pension or tax reasons, and began to serve them to his friends. So taken with the wines, his friends asked him to label them and in some cases recondition them. Potel obliged and Collection Bellenum was born.

 

Collection Bellenum is a labour of love of mature Burgundy. Potel waxes lyrical about parcels of 5,000 bottles that needed reconditioning, so the team had to painstakingly taste each one to make sure no corked bottles found their way into the vat that would eventually refill the bottles. He knows every wine inside out; which employed battonage, how long they spent in barrels and even the temperatures of the cellars they were stored in before coming under his ownership.

 

Nicolas Potel owns an enormous personal cellar of around 40,000 bottles. Always with one eye on long term ageing – he casually reminisces over bottles from 1908 and the quality of pre-war production – he removes capsules and waxes everything that comes in to his personal collection.

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MARKET PRICE    ?

2003 Meursault Les Perrieres Collection Bellenum Burgundy

2003 Meursault Les Perrieres Burgundy

£794.00
£395.00

2001 Latricieres Chambertin Collection Bellenum Burgundy

2001 Latricieres Chambertin Burgundy

£1,699.00
£852.00

2000 Volnay Clos des Chenes Collection Bellenum Burgundy

93.0

2000 Volnay Clos des Chenes Burgundy

93.0
£593.00
£297.00

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