Situated between sea and mountain on the western slopes of the city of Nice at an average altitude of 200 m, the Bellet vineyard, brushed by the sea winds coming up from the Var valley and the alpine winds coming down from the North, benefits – on its sand-lime soils and its Pliocene rolled pebbles – from an exceptional location. The slopes are so steep that the vines can only be planted on cramped Restanques, with a maximum of six rows of planting. Due to the steepness of the site, short paths (on average 1.70 meters wide) are required, which barely allows the circulation of ploughing vehicles. The plants spaced less than one meter apart are maintained manually. In addition to the wild reliefs, there is a family scattering of heritages, which has led to a scattered vineyard. All these factors lead to limited mechanization and, as a result, a workforce that is still omnipresent.
The white A.O.P. Bellet wines are mainly or totally made from Rolle (or Vermentino) with a complement of Chardonnay (a Burgundian grape variety) for some winemakers. Rolle is the soul of the white wine. Its specificity is to bring floral aromas. Clairette, with late harvest in old plots, can add a fruity touch. Chardonnay, introduced by the 1961 decree, is used in small proportions.
The A.O.P. Bellet rosé wines are made from three grape varieties including a native one: Braquet (named after an old local family), as well as Grenache and Cinsault. Some winemakers vinify Braquet as a single grape variety. In the past, Brachet or Braquet, a fragrant black grape, dominated the blends, when it was not the only one. So much so that the name “Braquet-Bellet” appeared on the labels of the bottles. Delicate both in taste and constitution, it ensures the finesse of the wine, giving it body and colour.
The red A.O.P. Bellet wines are made from four grape varieties: two local varieties, Folle Noire and Braquet, and two Mediterranean varieties, Grenache and Cinsault. The Folle Noire, with its extremely dark berries, which become black from mid-August, gives the red its tannin, body and color. Winemakers mainly emphasize this grape variety by complementing it with Cinsault and Grenache, and even Braquet. Grenache, a Mediterranean grape variety, is particularly suitable for making red wine.