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Alphonse Mellot Sancerre La Moussiere 2014

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Biodynamic and hand harvested. Veiled behind a single row of poplar trees as you enter the town Sancerre, on the Bué-Sancerre road, lies La Moussière; one of the most notable and best kept vineyards in France. This beautiful, rolling slope with cultivated, rocky, limestone soils lies on the ancient Saint-Doulchard marls which from part of the great Kimmeridgian chain (à la Chablis). This terroir, when coupled with this house’s meticulous biodynamic cultivation and low yields, is responsible for some of Sancerre’s most striking and atypical wines.

2014 is one heck of a vintage chez Mellot. Those who crave substance, purity and tension in their white wines will be blown away. As usual, 50% of this wine undergoes large-format barrel fermentation – a fact that in no way compromises the fabulous line, elegance and energy – while 50% is raised in traditional concrete vats, before blending.   The wines are aged on fine lees for a period of roughly 12 months, further enhancing the wine’s famously deep, pulpy texture. The ’14 is a flawlessly ripe and vibrant wine, flickering with intense, ripe citrus peel notes that hook you in before waves of energy-rich, layered fruit take over. This texture is balanced by threads of chalky, spicy freshness and a long, saline finish. A great La Moussière.

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If anyone doubted Sauvignon Blanc’s place in the pantheon of Noble White Grapes (and many do), a walk through Alphonse Mellot’s famed La Moussière vineyard or a taste of any bottle of Mellot Sancerre should set matters straight. 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.

- Importer Note

Additional Information

Volume (ml)750ml
Winemaking PracticesMinimal Intervention
Vineyard PracticesOrganic/Biodynamic
Product typeWine White Sauvignon Blanc
VintageBibendum Wine Co
RegionLoire Valley

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