Simon has previously written that Domaine Alphonse Mellot is something of a trailblazer in Sancerre. It is worth citing that French wine critic Michel Bettane once wrote that the Mellot family had pushed themselves to the peak of great Sauvignon of the world: “Alphonse Mellot’s white Sancerres are amongst the most brilliant and pure illustrations of the genius of the Sauvignon grape” (The World's Greatest Wines, Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve, 2008). Below is Simon's offer on 2014 Sancerre, Cuvée Edmond, Alphonse Mellot.
Eccentric, perhaps, full of new ideas for sure … Alphonse’s rise to prominence went against the tide in Sancerre. I apologise for re-iterating this point, but this famous Loire appellation is often debased by a great number of poor quality wines not worthy of the name; ever the problem with a famous and popular appellation. Just as is the case with Dagueneau in Pouilly-Fumé, Mellot is in a wholly different class; he focuses on individual parcels, farms his vineyards organically and seeks to harness the unique nature of Sancerre’s limestone-based terroir. Attentive viticulture sounds like a cliché until you note that he employees 45 people to work his 55 hectares! Indeed, the La Moussière vineyard, which accounts for 35 hectares, is regarded by many as one of the most immaculately maintained in France, with vines dating back to the 1920s and 1960s. The attention to detail and drive towards higher quality does not stop in the vineyard however, with the cellars kitted out to retain and ensure the quality of the fruit. Mellot often employs new oak for the fermentation and ageing of their wines, but care is taken to ensure this never overpowers the character of the vineyard. Mellot has recently turned away from stainless steel in favour of concrete fermenters as he believes that they better aid the integration of oak. He is acutely aware of the influence of oak, its pitfalls and benefits, and he finds the perfect point of balance.
In the 2014, the Cuvée Edmond is surely the pick. I often find this Mellot’s headlining wine, dedicated to his father and sourced from a 6-hectare vineyard that is managed both organically and biodynamically. 60% of the fruit for this cuvée is fermented in new oak, a further 20% in barrels that were used the vintage before. It is then aged on its lees (the fine deposit that forms in the barrel post-fermentation) for between 10 to 14 months. This cuvée should appeal to fans of classic dry white Bordeaux given that it is made by using a similar approach. It delivers wonderfully ripe fruit with surprising concentration. Yes, it hints at notes of brioche and vanilla, but there is a distinct liveliness to Cuvée Edmond, which underscores the generous, juicy, citrus fruits. Markedly mineral on the finish with superb persistence, this is a highly individual Sancerre, way removed from what typifies this region and a wine that will reward (almost demands) cellarage over the next decade and beyond. It is hard not to be impressed by this high-class Sancerre and I can only agree with the sentiment of Monsieur Bettane above; this is one of the few truly great Sauvignon Blanc.
2014 Sancerre, Cuvée Edmond, Alphonse Mellot
96 points, Stephen Reinhardt – The Wine Advocate
£195 per 6 bottle case in bond
From almost 100-year-old vines on Kimmeridgian marl and limestone soils, the 2014 Sancerre Edmond displays a very deep and mineral nose with herbal and stony favors. Extremely pure and mineral on the palate, this is a tightly woven, firm and mineral wine that is still restrained, but wow, what a combination of power and finesse! The finish is endlessly salty but also reveals that this wine is still bloody young.
Alphonse Mellot junior, 19th generation of the flagship domaine in Sancerre, has 53 biodynamically farmed hectares of vines and offers a range of remarkably clear, elegant and polished single vineyard Sancerres. Several of these—Edmond, Les Romains and Generation Dix-Neuf—are outstanding in terms of their concentration, precision and expression. Drink 2019-2030.
Please let us know of your interest. The wine will be shipped this autumn.
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