Alphonse Mellot, 2018 Update

Although I approach all wines with an open mind (at least I like to think so), and try to never prejudge, it is fair to say that expectations prior to a tasting with Alphonse Mellot (either Junior or Senior) are usually high. I have been drinking this domaine’s taut, crystalline, perfumed and minerally white wines for years and years, and have rarely been disappointed. I came to the red wines later, really only ‘discovering’ them a decade or so ago, and since then I have sought to frequently remind myself of their incredibly flavoursome, textured, confident and yet still freshly balanced character. The standard here is appellation-defining, certainly in red, although we could perhaps have a debate about contenders for this crown in white, as there are some top names in Chavignol which would mount a valid challenge for this honour. Whatever the outcome of said debate, though, there is no doubting the exceptional quality of the wines made here.

Alphonse Mellot

This report on two recent tastings with Alphonse Mellot Junior (pictured above) is based on a meeting with him in London in January 2018, and then in Angers in February 2018. I tasted a few examples from the 2017 vintage, before dipping back into 2016, 2015 and 2014, but the focus was on 2016 in white, and 2015 in red. Alphonse was fortunate in 2017 as he suffered no significant frost damage on his Sancerre vineyards in this vintage, this appellation largely escaping the sub-zero temperatures seen in many other parts of the Loire Valley in late April. Further south, in the Côtes de la Charité, however, the Pénitents vineyards were all but wiped out by the frost, both in 2017 and in 2016. The harvest here in 2017 was down to just a few hectolitres per vineyard.

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