Domaine Alphonse Mellot:
New Sancerre Releases from 2011-2012
We recently had the opportunity to taste through the new releases of Sancerre Blanc, Sancerre Rouge, and other wines of Domaine Alphonse Mellot. The Domaine is among the oldest and finest estates in Sancerre, tracing its history back to the 16th century. We were fortunate in being able to taste the wines with the young and highly accomplished owner, Alphonse Mellot, who runs the eponymous domaine of his father and grandfather. He is a master artisan who is crafting stunning wines from a rich variety of Sancerre vineyards.
Domaine Alphonse Mellot’s principal vineyard is La Moussière, a 30-hectare estate of young and old vines situated on the southwestern tip of Sancerre and farmed biodynamically. It is ideal for producing high quality Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, the main varieties of Sancerre. In addition to its outstanding exposure, the vineyard is composed of the chalky marl and limestone soils common to the Kimmeridgian Chain that runs through Champagne, Chablis, and Sancerre and gives the wines their special character. La Moussière is the source for the Alphonse Mellot’s Sancerre Blanc and Sancerre Rouge as well as for its Generation XIX and Edmond wines. The domaine also sources grapes from numerous other holdings such as La Demoiselle, a flinty 0.5 hectare steep hillside parcel, En Grands Champs, a 2.5 hectare estate of limestone soil and 65 year old vines, and others in Chavignol. The domaine’s other principle estate is a 40 hectare vineyard Les Penitent located in the Cotes de la Charite; it was replanted in 1994 and has also been farmed biodynamically.
Alphonse Mellot’s wines are beautifully crafted and reveal richness of flavor and notable refinement. His whites are crisp and fresh with chalky minerality; the reds are juicy and pure with exceptional depth, structure and amplitude. The estate’s grapes are hand harvested, carefully sorted and vinified with natural yeast in small lots of stainless steel and oak. Mellot uses gentle winemaking techniques and favors large format used barrels for aging wines, although he also uses new barriques and even an egg shaped wooden fermenter for some cuveés. Most of the wines are also transferred to large blending tanks for about 6-8 months before bottling.
The wines reviewed here are mainly from the 2010, 2011 and 2012 vintages. The wines of the 2010 vintage in Sancerre generally reveal high acidity, especially if they were picked before the September rains. The wines from 2011 are generally ripe in character but never reached the alcoholic levels of the warm 2009 vintage. The 2012 vintage was plagued by cold damp weather that contributed to low yields and uneven ripening, although the whites appear to have done quite well. In sum, there are delicious wines from all three vintages in the reviews below.
The wines are distributed by US importer: Elite Wines, Lorton, VA
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