Domaine du Bel Air is a certified organic estate that has been creating traditional wines from Bourgeuil for the past five generations. Throughout the decades, the Gauthier family enjoyed their wines privately until 1979, when they began to sell their wines commercially. Pierre Gauthier, the man who oversaw this transformation, continues to make the wines today alongside his son, Rodolphe (collaborating together since 2005).
The domaine produces fairly deep, age-worthy Cabernet Francs from their 18 hectares located in Benais, a 200-hectare area just east of Bourgeuil. The region is famous for its clay-limestone terrain, as well as the numerous, impressive caves carved into the tufa. These caves were created by the French as they extracted this porous rock (called "pierre de Loire" or "tuffeaux") over the centuries. This tuffeaux help create France's imposing fortresses against the barbarians (then the English), and were later transformed into breathtaking chateaux during the Renaissance. Though rock excavation had significantly decreased after the Revolution – during which some chateau were used as barracks, others for prisons - the practice continued in some areas as late as 1950.
Today, the caves are used only for aging wines, a role at which these dark chambers excel, providing naturally steady, low temperatures in a quiet, humid and light-free environment. The Gauthiers’ wine cellars can be found in one of these such caves, its entrance nearly concealed by vines, with some of the domaine's vines growing just above.
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