This month I’ve been tasting for you…

Domaine de Bellevue, Organic Rum Blanc, 59% ABV, harvest 2021

We are at the Domaine de Bellevue, Marie Galante’s first distillery for the volumes of alcohol produced annually, located in the north of the island, in an intact and wonderful historical and natural context, where there is the only still perfectly functioning windmill of the “Ile aux cent moulins”, which still spreads its wings every day to the delight of tourists. Bellevue was also the first to begin its production path towards an entirely “organic” disciplinary, and the only one of the three historic distilleries to be completely “eco-positive”, but it was the last to bottle its “Rhum Bio “, a creation presented only last June, on the occasion of the visit of the judges of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles to Marie Galante, an event that has finally brought an exceptional terroir into the spotlight, where sugar cane still represents a real monoculture.

Expectation amply rewarded because the distillate, presented by Hubert Damoiseau, patron of the Domaine, is fine, recognizable and complex: the 16 months’ housing in steel before bottling (in only 5023 vessels), has sharpened its character and depth.

According to the protocol, Rhum Bio Bellevue is produced at the beginning of the campaign, in perfectly clean plants, from pure sugar cane juice of the Blanche variety also known as Caimite (B80-0689), a variety very present in Marie Galante, hybridized on Barbados soil, therefore perfectly at ease on the calcareous marls of the island: the sugar cane is strictly cut by hand and quickly brought to the distillery, where the fermentation of the juice takes place using traditional yeasts, in 30 -40 hours. The real secret is, after distillation in Creole columns, precisely the rest in steel before the reduction in degree to 59% ABV (Marie Galante is definitely 59) and bottling, to make the most of the fullness and aromatic specificity of this white with a herbaceous and spicy heart. It should be remembered here that it is not only the variety of sugar cane, but it is also the parcel, the slope, the insolation, the rainfall, the human factor and the distillery that are determining elements: the agricole rhum, just like a good wine , is a real son of his land.

The appearance of this rhum, in the glass, is transparent and crystalline, oily, and the weight on the wrist is considerable. Thick tears descend towards the center: its complexity is well announced.

The nose is clean and frank, of good intensity: it immediately conquers with notes of wild honey, while its heart beats towards the herbaceous and floral side of tobacco, then becomes unexpectedly fresh and fruity, on notes of lychee and banana. A long finish of vanilla and saffron invites you to discover what it has in store for the palate: the sip is soft, warm, rich: attack of vanilla cream, slight vegetable touch of ripe banana (fermentation matters), and a sumptuous and long finish, where saffron and star anise are the protagonists.

The aftertaste is linear and intense: saffron, tobacco, star anise are there, and remain for a long time to play with my senses.

Verre vide: floral note, saffron and tobacco always in the spotlight.

A direct agricole, lively expression of its terroir, with intensely “Bellevue”, herbaceous and spicy tones: nose of original complexity, perhaps superior to that of the palate, with perfectly reflected notes and linked above all to the vegetable part of the sugar cane, followed in a photographic journey from fermentation to distillation, and revealed above all by the tobacco flower and the saffron.

Try it in a Maracudja ti-punch with a little agave syrup, but above all fresh (put it in the fridge for half an hour) with fish marinated in curry and saffron sauce (add some rhum to the sauce), for a real immersion in these islands where spices are a great part of the kitchen and therefore of everyday life.

Finally, those who know me know that I do not have much sympathy for “biological protocols”, certifications, and all the paraphernalia: what matters to me is that this rum, and agricole rhum in general, is produced respecting and describing in the best possible way its terroir: organic for me means that the parcel and the sugar cane that resides there are managed according to their natural vegetative cycle, in relation to the soil and the variety, that the stems are cut by hand, only while ripe, then cleaned and carefully transported to the distillery, to obtain the best possible juice, from the hands of the planteurs, an ancient and fundamental human factor, and that those planteurs, for a job that requires enormous effort and great precision at the same time, are properly remunerated, in order to live off their work and give continuity to the land and the final product. Finally, that the process of broyage, fermentation and distillation is equally respectful of everything that has happened before, and can pass it on. Without these requirements, which this rum respects, it is useless to affix symbols and certificates.

The price is also super honest: 18 euros very well spent for a white that, with its aromas, transports you to Marie Galante, rewards the work of many people and the generosity of this difficult and wonderful island.

Santé tou moun!

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