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Alphonse Mellot Les Herses Sancerre Blanc 2012
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
There is much controversy surrounding the origins of Sancerre. Certain historians attribute it to Julius Cesar, others to a Saxon settlement that is said to have been established during the reign of Charlemagne. It is however certain that its history goes back to the beginning of the Middle Ages, before the year 1000 and that a Castle was erected on this privileged site.
As far back as the XVI century, in 1513 to be exact, the local records mention the MELLOT family, whose life even at that time was governed by the seasons of the vine and the production of wines of excellent quality. The Mellot family, vinegrowers and wine merchants, was again mentioned during the siege of the town. They pursued their patient labours and continued to gain recognition because César Mellot was appointed as Wine Advisor to Louis XIV in 1698.
At the beginning of the XIX century, ALPHONSE MELLOT founded a tavern in Sancerre where one could savour the local wines and so began a flourishing trade that was to continue. In 1881 he was granted a licence to ship his wine throughout France and all over the World. This marked the beginning of a pacific conquest which has been pursued and developed by the family business from father to son ever since, with the eldest son continuing to bear the name of the Founder Alphonse.
Today, this century old winemaking tradition is perpetuated by Alphonse MELLOT, father and son, the 18th and 19th to bear the name.
Marked by its charming hilltop village in the easternmost territory of the Loire, Sancerre is famous for its racy, vivacious, citrus-dominant Sauvignon blanc. Its enormous popularity in 1970s French bistros led to its success as the go-to restaurant white around the globe in the 1980s.
While the region claims a continental climate, noted for short, hot summers and long, cold winters, variations in topography—rolling hills and steep slopes from about 600 to 1,300 feet in elevation—with great soil variations, contribute the variations in character in Sancerre Sauvignon blancs.
In the western part of the appellation, clay and limestone soils with Kimmeridgean marne, especially in Chavignol, produce powerful wines. Moving closer to the actual town of Sancerre, soils are gravel and limestone, producing especially delicate wines. Flint (silex) soils close to the village produce particularly perfumed and age-worthy wines.
About ten percent of the wines claiming the Sancerre appellation name are fresh and light red wines made from Pinot noir and to a lesser extent, rosés. While not typically exported in large amounts, they are well-made and attract a loyal French following.
A crisp, refreshing variety that equally reflects both terroir and varietal character, Sauvignon blanc is responsible for a vast array of wine styles. However, a couple of commonalities always exist—namely, zesty acidity and intense aromatics. The variety is of French provenance, and here is most important in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. It also shines in New Zealand, California, Australia and parts of northeastern Italy. Chile and South Africa are excellent sources of high-quality, value-priced Sauvignon blanc.
In the Glass
From its homeland In Bordeaux, winemakers prefer to blend it with Sémillon to produce a softer, richer style. In the Loire Valley, it expresses citrus, flint and smoky flavors, especially from in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. Marlborough, New Zealand often produces a pungent and racy version, often reminiscent of cut grass, gooseberry and grapefruit. California produces fruity and rich oak-aged versions as well as snappy and fresh, Sauvignon blancs, which never see any oak.
The freshness of Sauvignon Blanc’s flavor lends it to a range of light, summery dishes including salad, seafood and mild Asian cuisine. Sauvignon Blanc settles in comfortably at the table with notoriously difficult foods like artichokes or asparagus. When combined with Sémillon (and perhaps some oak), it can be paired with more complex seafood and chicken dishes.
Along with Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc is the proud parent of Cabernet Sauvignon. That green bell pepper aroma that all three varieties share is no coincidence—it comes from a high concentration of pyrazines (an herbaceous aromatic compound) inherent to each member of the family.