Vines have been a part of the Larange commune in Crozes-Hermitage for a very long time indeed: in the 16th century, the land on which Domaine Belle now lies was owned by the Lord of Larnage, who donated a small plot of vines to each of the nearby villagers so they could make their own wine.
The estate was bought by Louis Belle in the 1930s. He enjoyed cultivating grapes much more than he enjoyed making wine, and so he founded the famous Tain l’Hermitage co-operative, and sent his grapes there each year. His son Albert, who was more fond of winemaking, took over the estate in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until his own son, Philippe, returned from studying oenology in 1990 that they decided to team together and create their own domaine.
They built a winery, extended their vineyard holdings to 20 hectares, and set about putting the wines of Larange on the map. When Albert retired in 2003, Philippe continued he and his father’s work, and as well as renovating the winery again in 2007, he also further expanded their vineyard area to 25 hectares. The vines comprise of syrah, roussanne and marsanne, some of which are 80 years old, and are spread between the Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage and Saint-Joseph appellations.
Philippe and Albert champion Larange wines because of the commune’s soil: its well-draining white clay-limestone, sometimes known as Les Terres Blanches, isn’t found anywhere else in Crozes-Hermitage.
Whites are fermented in around a third new oak barrels (the remainder are fermented in older oak barrels and stainless-steel tanks) and spend between 12 and 16 months ageing on their lees. The result is refreshing, full-flavoured Crozes with good ageing potential and that represents super value for money.