Bernard Bellahsen (Languedoc, France)

Tasting with Bernard at Les Anonymes earlier this year

It often happens for me that I taste an unexpected wine of profundity, a bottle I think that I’ve never actually noticed before, and then realize that I’ve been seeing the same understated bottle for years, like Fontedicto for example, in the mouth of Joan-Ramon Escoda (lol). Natural wine is a secret language and is sometimes all about clues. With the right amount of experience, a savvy drinker can learn quite a lot quickly just by looking at the trophy bottles in the windows of their favorite haunts. It happened again recently for me in Tokyo seeing empty Lemaire-Fournier bottles literally everywhere, having recently imbibed a 2004 demi-sec (absolute nectar) for the first time just a few weeks prior. Having a keen awareness for the bread crumbs left by the top cavistes, importers, and restaurateurs is what separates the deep heads from the basic label chasers. At the end of the day, it’s simply about paying attention. 

I was first exposed to the wonders of Bernard Bellahsen’s ripe, pulpy red nectar wines during a harvest lunch at l’Absurde Génie des Fleurs in 2022; a bottle of 2004 Carignan that was everything I wanted—and still want—in a red wine from the south of France. Similar to old Casot-era Castex, but perhaps a little less “spheric” (do you know what I mean?) and more down to earth, Bernard Bellahsen’s wines represent an idyllic paysan vision of the Languedoc, and make up just part of his project near Beziers. Bernard, a confidently quiet gentleman who has been farming since the early 80s, now works a mere hectare (compared to five when he first began), and now mostly, like Pierre Overnoy, focuses on baking bread that he sells at the local farmer’s market each week. His cellar is also a ceramics studio that he shares with his wife Cecille, and ceramics have become more of a priority for them as of late. Fontedicto is one of those domaines that most people in Los Angeles have never heard of, and I actually feel kind of stupid having to “sell” the story here—the juice is just too honest to even need my pitch, and I hope that everyone who picks some up feels the same way—deep cuts for the lovers here, and perfect for our late southern California transition (maybe?) into fall. 

Pirouette 2021

Coulisses 2021
Carignan, Syrah