There is not really that much to the town of Pouilly-sur-Loire. Although it is certainly larger than many of the smaller villages of Sancerre, such as Chavignol or Bué, it is no match for the town of Sancerre itself, which sits proud atop its hill of clay and flint about 15 kilometres to the north-west. Pouilly-sur-Loire, by contrast, lies low, the buildings riding the gently undulating land that hugs the right bank of the Loire. There is no grand tower or imposing cathedral spire to lend character to the skyline, which here is comprised only of tiled roofs and a few trees. The buildings have a rather tired, careworn appearance to them, their stained render benefiting from neither the sense of faded grandeur that comes from crumbling, moss-etched stone, or from the resiliently sharp edges of more modern building materials. In some places the only splash of colour to be seen is the flaking yellow paint at the kerbside.
Among this suburban landscape one pretty building does, however, stand out; sitting in a prominent corner position near the western periphery of the town are some immaculately presented cellars. With the richly-stained wood of its doors and shutters, and a carefully manicured lawn and rose bed out front, it is a building of clean lines which suggest those that work here perhaps favour order and precision. And indeed these are, as it happens, some of the features that can be found in their wines, for these are the cellars of Domaine Masson-Blondelet.
Created very recently – provided I am still permitted to regard the 1970s as ‘recent’, that is – the domaine nevertheless has a rich history, as both sides of the Masson-Blondelet family – Jean-Michel Masson and Michelle Blondelet, who married in 1975 and who now run the domaine with son Pierre-François (above) and daughter Melanie – come from a long line of vignerons. Their stories are well documented, and on the Blondelet side the family tree can be traced back as far as the middle of the 16th century. In this profile of the domaine I detail this rich history (below), before looking at the domaine today on the next page. If it is solely the information on the vineyards, winemaking, the portfolio of wines or my tasting notes that interest you, skip forward to pages three and four.