Thursday, April 17, 2014

2012 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre La Moussiere, Loire, France

On Sunday April 13th a group of my fellow ICC Alumni and newly Certified Sommeliers gathered to taste a number of wines and discuss our future plans and strategies as potential Advanced Sommeliers candidates. It was great to see these friends again and I hope that we’ll continue to meet whether some or all of us choose to put our nose to the grind stone again and pursuit that next step. Currently our plan to begin reviewing and go even deeper into what we have already studied. The 50 classes we had at ICC cover all the major wine regions of the world but everything is covered very quickly and you can only go an inch deep on any given subject at that pace. And, since we were studying for the Certified exams the instructors didn’t want to overwhelm us with information, but at times we’d ask a question and the Master Sommelier would reply, “That’s an Advanced level question…” and then give us the answer.

Our current plan is to tentatively meet at least a couple times a month, share our notes from the text books we have chosen to read and of course taste some wines from the now much-expanded list of “grid wines.” But in our first meeting we all just brought wines to share so until we meet again I’ll provide a review of these wines.

Our first wine was a Sancerre blanc (Sauvignon Blanc), the 2012 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre La Moussiere. The four dominant varietals of the Loire Valley are Muscadet, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Of course there are other varietals as well such as Pinot Noir, but these are the major players. One of the most well-known region for Sauvignon Blanc is Sancerre in the eastern part of the Loire valley, southeast of Orléans in the sub-region of the “Central Vineyards.” About 75 - 80% of the production is devoted to this grape and the remainder is Pinot Noir. Due to its distance from the Atlantic Ocean and location in the middle of France it has a continental climate. Its nearest neighbor, Pouilly-Fumé specializes in producing only 100% Sauvignon Blanc.

Sancerre is an isolated hill that rises up in the middle of landscape which receives most significant climatic influence from the Loire River. The oldest portion of the town is built like an amphitheater on the south-western slopes of the hill that is 312 meters high (1024 feet).

History of the Mellot Family

As early as 1513 A.D. local records mention the Mellot family who managed a vineyard and produced wine. Records also indicate that in 1698 Caesar Mellot was appointed as Wine Advisor to King Louis XIV. At the beginning of the 19th century Alphonse Mellot founded a tavern in Sancerre and in 1881 he was granted a license to ship his wine throughout France and internationally. The name “Alphonse Mellot” has practically become a trademark for the family winery as his eldest son bore the same name and the grandson as well who are 18th and 19th in the family to bear the name.

The wines are produced from the upper Sancerre vineyard, the most well known is Domaine de La Moussière, a single vineyard with over 30 hectares (74 acres). The vineyard is ideally exposed to the sun as it is located on the south-western tip of Sancerre. So, along with its Huadu Kimmeridgian limestone soil and a marl sub-soil it has the ideal conditions for the cultivation of the vine. From these vines they produce “The Moussière” their normal blend, “Generation XIX” and “Edmond.”[1]

The Wine

The 2012 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre La Moussiere is a clear white wine, straw-yellow in color with low concentration and medium- viscosity. On the nose it has subtle aromas of lemon-lime, tarragon, lemon blossoms and a minute hint of chalk. On the palate the nose is confirmed. It is dry with medium+ acid, medium body and a medium length finish. This is a prime example of a Sancerre, especially from what many consider to be a rather difficult vintage.


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