Alphonse Mellot, 2019 Update

The 2016 vintage started with frost, an increasingly frequent affliction in the Loire Valley, blighting three out of the four vintages between 2016 and 2019. Frost is a fickle foe, though, and in the Central Vineyards while some lost the vast majority of the crop – between 70% and 80% damage was not uncommon in Pouilly-Fumé and Menetou-Salon – others escaped without so much as a scratch. Among the lucky ones were the vignerons of Sancerre, including Alphonse Mellot. “We had a little bit of frost in April, but there was no great loss”, Alphonse Mellot Junior told me, and when it came to harvest time the yields here were 46 hl/ha for the white varieties, and 29 hl/ha for the reds, both well within normal limits. Further south in the Côtes de la Charité, where Alphonse also has vines, it was a different story; like Pouilly-Fumé and Menetou-Salon, these vineyards were decimated by the frost.

Subsequently the 2016 growing season was a very benevolent one. Up and down the Loire Valley there were quite brilliant red wines to match any others produced in recent years. And it was also a vintage which yielded delicious whites which, while they do not have the laser-like cut of 2012 or the vibrancy of the 2014 vintage, and still the next best thing ahead of warmer vintages such as 2015 or 2018, or more difficult years such as 2013. Alphonse Mellot Junior (pictured below) summed it up perfectly when I spoke to him after the harvest. “In the end it was a superb vintage”, he told me.

Alphonse Mellot

The wines have since finished their fermentations and élevages, and are now all in bottle. With this in mind in early 2019 I met up with Alphonse Mellot Junior and we tasted through all the major cuvées from this domaine in the 2016 vintage. The portfolio here seems to wax and wane a little, so there was no Les Herses or Le Manoir poured here, but the tasting took in all the leading Mellot cuvées, including Edmond, Génération XIX, En Grands Champs, La Demoiselle and more.

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