Alphonse Mellot, 2013 Update

Let me get straight to the point; I think Alphonse Mellot one of the leading domaines in Sancerre. The reds are in many cases simply ravishing, each one two fingers in the air to anyone who decries Sancerre as an appellation where only Sauvignon Blanc matters, and where the climate is simply too cold, damp and dreary to ripen Pinot Noir. These wines are rich, stylish, voluptuous even, possibly pushing the envelope a little too far for Pinot Noir purists, but surely those who feel that way about this variety should just go and busy themselves with a bottle of Savigny Rouge rather than Sancerre? And the whites are also dramatic in the way they present themselves; the aromatics are pure, the palates tense, minerally and bright. The very top cuvées, such as the Cuvée Edmond and the Génération XIX, are simply stunning in their poise and composition. They are considered by many regular Sancerre drinkers as two of the top wines of the appellation, and there are one or two seasoned wine hacks who regard them with the same reverence.

Alphonse Mellot

Nevertheless, there is a glitch here. The wines discussed above are all the grander cuvées, wines on which care and attention is lavished. But there is a good argument, put forward by many, that a domaine is perhaps best judged not by these wines, but by its entry-level cuvée. It is a maxim most people would associate most with Champagne; the window upon any Champagne house’s style and portfolio is the non-vintage cuvée. This is where punters new to the region or the house in question kick off. If a chef de cave can’t get this wine right, then he or she doesn’t deserve to have these new customers stepping up to making a purchase of the prestige cuvée.

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