Tucked away in Pomerol’s southwest corner and exclusive to FINE+RARE in the UK, Ch. Belle-Brise is the ultimate insider’s Bordeaux. With just two hectares of walled garden vineyard, production at this estate is minuscule, making it one of the rarest wines in the marketplace (and arguably more exclusive than either Pétrus or Le Pin).
Henri-Bruno de Coincy bought the property in 1991. He is the 20th generation of his family, which has been producing Armagnac for more than 700 years. Wine has been made at Ch. Belle-Brise since the 18th century, but until 1991 it was only offered to family and friends.
Stylistically this artisan Pomerol is silky and opulent, but with a finesse and almost weightless power more akin to Grand Cru Burgundy. The vineyard contains a split of around 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, and old vines (the oldest of which were planted between the World Wars). The soil has gravel on the surface and beneath, a layer of clay, chalk and crasse de fer. Farming is done to biodynamic and organic principles, with horses used to work the vines.
The winemaking is all done in the most natural way possible, picked and sorted by hand before a cold soak, the gentlest extraction over two to three weeks, with native-yeast fermentation and gentle pressing. The wine is left to rest for a month in concrete tank, then transferred to oak, unusually 400-litre barrels (the size typically used in Armagnac), with a third new, a third one-year-old and a third two-year-old.
In 2018, Henri-Bruno de Coincy added a tiny additional parcel which will be harvested for the first time in 2023 and bottled separately until he deems the fruit quality worthy of the Grand Vin.
Despite its cult following, you may be surprised by the lack of reviews from critics. Owner and winemaker Henri-Bruno de Coincy refuses to allow the critics to review his wines and has actually asked the likes of the Wine Advocate and Vinous to remove old write-ups. However, if you dig deep enough, there are a few intriguing mentions that demonstrate the buzz surrounding this little-known producer. The style is simply sublime. The unique terroir and vinification methods result in a wine that delivers a sense of finesse and controlled power more common in the great Grand Crus of Burgundy and more specifically Musigny.
As Jancis Robinson MW puts it: “Château Belle-Brise release just a handful of bottles each vintage. At just 2 hectares in size and with similar production levels to Château Le Pin, it is so elusive it is basically unknown to the general public. Within the upper echelons of the world’s greatest restaurants though, the wines have an intense, nearly obsessive following."