Biodynamic and hand-harvested. The beautiful, gently rolling Moussière vineyard with its gently cultivated, incredibly rocky, limestone-rich soils, lies on the ancient Saint-Doulchard belt which forms a part of the great Kimmeridgian chain (à la Chablis). This terroir coupled with Mellot's meticulous biodynamic farming and low yields, is responsible for some of Sancerre's most striking and atypical wines.
As usual, 50% of this wine underwent fermentation in huge wooden fermenters and was raised in oak casks--a fact that in no way compromises the fabulous purity, elegance and energy. The balance of the wine was meanwhile fermented and raised in traditional concrete vats, before blending. All of the wine was aged on fine lees for a period of roughly 12 months, further enhancing the wine's famously deep and pulpy texture.
The 2018 is simply a great La Moussière. It's a deep and mineral Sancerre without a hint of Sauvignon grassiness. Rather you can expect waves of crushed lime, lemon pith and nectarine fruit along with refreshingly tangy and earthy mineral notes. It's bold and bracing Sancerre with Chablis-like tension and a long, harmonious finish. Simply magic.
Mellot’s Sauvignons are capable of recalling great white Burgundy, sometimes Chablis, sometimes Côte d’Or. And they typically age better than most white burgundies do these days! Jacqueline Friedrich summed it up perfectly when she wrote; “Each Sancerre [from Mellot] is at its most elegant: discreetly herbaceous, a beautiful weave of citrus, oak and minerals.”
For those of you new to the wines of Alphonse Mellot, some context is important. For much of its recent history, the Mellot family has crafted its miraculous Sauvignons in a highly popular region where standards were continuously dropping and the viticulture and wine making was becoming more and more industrial. Alphonse Mellot was, and is, one of the beacons of quality in a region where today, some 98% of fruit is machine harvested. The terroir of Sancerre is beautiful, one of Europe’s great limestone soils. Unfortunately, the region’s immense popularity has encouraged apathy and opportunism and Sancerre remains very much a case of ‘All this Useless Beauty’, as Elvis Costello put it – great terroir full of largely untapped potential. Of course Mellot is not alone in bucking the trend: names like Cotat, Vacheron, Pinard and Boulay have also maintained very high standards. But the outspoken Mellot is the most visible, as the late Didier Dageneau had been in Pouilly.
La Moussière, where the estate’s most historic white wines are grown, is one of the most remarkable and best kept vineyards in France. It is a beautiful, south facing, rolling slope, with deep, limestone-rich, ploughed soils. The vines are densely planted (8,000-10,000 vines per-hectare) and there is a large percentage of old vines. Incredibly, 40 people are employed to manage 47 hectares! If anyone can be said to be guardians of Sancerre terrior, it is these hardy souls pruning through winter on the frigid slopes of La Moussière. Here, everything is done by hand, biodynamically and to immaculate standards. The winery is full of the kind of equipment (sorting tables, conveyor belts, pneumatic presses, large wooden temperature controlled fermentation tanks, etc.) that you only typically find in the finest Burgundy domains – absolutely no expense has been spared.
HUON HOOKE - THE REAL REVIEW
Light to mid-straw-yellow hue. Dry grass, herb aromas, the palate opening with a trace of sweetness and then rich flavour that lingers long. Big finish, with emphatic flavour reinforced by a slight grip.