Although Pierre Martin is new at the helm here, this is a domaine with a long history. The story of the Martin family as vignerons can be traced back to at least 1850, in Chavignol, when Louis Etienne Martin began tending vines here. As is often the case, I wonder whether the story could possibly be followed back into more ancient times; after all, the land around this village has been committed to viticulture since at least the Middle Ages, when monks first planted vines on the Cul de Beaujeu at the western end of the village. Perhaps even more distant ancestors also worked in the vines? I suspect we shall never know, and as 1850 appears to be the date when Louis Etienne first acquired vines of his own, it is this event that the Martin family regard as the beginning of their story.
From Louis Etienne the domaine has been through numerous pairs of hands before coming to Pierre; the next generation, presumably Louis Etienne’s son, was also called Louis Etienne Martin. It is possible that they were hoping to challenge the thirteen generations of heirs named Alphonse Mellot, although if that is the case they failed, as the third generation to take charge was named simply Louis. It then came to his son, Yves, and it is Yves Martin that most fans of Sancerre will be familiar with at present, as it is he who has been running the estate during the past few decades. Indeed, the sign on the rather understated house on the main street in Chavignol declares it to be the location of Domaine Yves Martin. Take a look at the wine list of any of the nearby restaurants, however, and it is the wines of Pierre Martin that you will discover.