It might seem that I’m exploring a lot of the eastern part of Belgium (Limburg) lately, but they just have so many great things to explore :-). This time my trip east brought me a little town called Borgloon, which is a little town right in the heart of the Belgian Fruit region also known as “Haspengouw” (beautiful for cycling in spring). The red wires during this daytrip were top Belgian wines and 2010 best Belgian sommelier Kris Lismont.
I know Belgium is not known as a wine country, but I can say for a fact that the amount of winemakers making good and even great wine that can easily compete against the famous wine countries is getting bigger by the day! Thanks to Kris Lismont we were fortunate enough to visit a 3 of them with all the same goal putting Belgian wines on the map.
The first vineyard on our agenda is maybe to me the maker of the best Belgian white wine. I’m talking about the lifework (since 2000) of Peter Colemont aka Clos d’Opleeuw a vineyard from only 1hectare. Peter only makes Chardonnay (1 year in best quality oak barrels) wine from 5 chardonnay grape varieties. I must correct myself he also has a few Pinot Noire vines but the wine he makes from these grapes is for private use only, or at least until Peter finds the quality good enough for actually sharing it with the world (I tried it and have to say although it is still young it had a typical Pinot Noire taste to it). Back to Clos d’Opleeuw’s signature products their Chardonnay that during lots of blind tastings of well-known white wines is mistaking for a Burgundy wine… so that’s how good it is! Before I start speaking of the wine, maybe I should first tell you more about the person behind the vineyard. Peter Colemont is besides a very friendly and modest person also someone who knows what he wants and is not ashamed to say he consults well-known winemakers and wine experts to make sure he’ll make a TOP product. Peter even worked for a while in some well know vineyards in the Burgundy Wine region to fine-tune his knowledge on how to make wine. When we asked him who gave him the passion for making wine, he said without hesitation Jean Bellefroid who was a pioneer in making Belgian wine.
There are multiple reasons this wine is this wonderful 1st of all because of the lime/loam soil in combination with the fact it goes downhill is perfect for the “drainage “of the water (and in Belgium there is a lot of rain 🙂 ). Just think of vines of Chateau Petrus, this also goes downhill. BTW when you see a mistletoe tree you immediately know the soil is lime/loam as this tree only grows on this type of soil. Secondly because of the fact it is a “Clos”, which is the French word for “closure” or “enclosed”, so basically this means it is a vineyard with walls around it used to protect the grapes from theft as well as improving the mesoclimate. The mesoclimate will be creating the perfect circumstance and environment for growing the grapes (or any other fruit you would like to grow). This is a “technique” used in lots of French regions for making wine. The last and maybe most important reason is Peter himself as he works with so much devotion, care and passion! There is a saying that says “everything you do yourself is done better” well this is Peter’s motto as he does do it all himself, he literally crawls on hands and knees between all his vines to check and take care of every branch. He could use a machine, but this would cut away too much.
Peter’s passion and high quality product didn’t stay unnoticed as people like Jancis Robinson tasted the wine and started spreading the word ( article) and on top of that Clos d’opleeuw’s chardonnay can also be found on the wine list of the 3 Belgian 3 Michelin star awarded restaurants and Oud Sluis! Lots of people would start flying and start to feel full of themselves, but not Peter he keeps his 2 feet on the ground :-).
I did already know Clos d’Opleeuw for a few years, but it was not until 2 months ago (it might be 3 months) that I tried my first glass thanks to Tom Ieven from restaurant Ardent :-). I also wasn’t sad when I could taste it again, but this time in company of the winemaker himself, we tried the 2010 and 2011. The 2007 would be Peter’s personal favorite, at this moment that is.
Anyhow, to make a long story short(er) you should definitely try a glass (or bottle) of Clos d’Opleeuw when you have the chance!!! I know it might be difficult to find it as the production is not enormous (3000bottles a year)… and therefore very quickly sold out but you won’t regret it if you get hold of it.
Stay tuned for more about the 2 other vineyards we visited and the lunch we had with of course wine as main topic….