Domaine Pellé, 2018 Update

Menetou-Salon has neither the fame nor the sheer expanse of vineyards which Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé proudly boast. A relatively diminutive appellation, it lies southwest of Sancerre, the two vineyards directly contiguous with one another. At the most recent count it accounted for just over 560 hectares of the Loire Valley vineyard, about two-thirds of which are planted to Sauvignon Blanc, and one-third Pinot Noir. This is barely more than half the size of a typical Médoc commune such as St Julien or Pauillac, and it lags far behind the 1,300 hectares planted up in Pouilly-Fumé, and the 2,950 hectares currently in production in Sancerre.

Nevertheless, as with so many of the less famous and smaller Loire Valley appellations, from Jasnières to Cour-Cheverny, there are gems waiting to be discovered in Menetou-Salon. With many Kimmeridgian terroirs matching those of Sancerre, and with just two varieties to work with which again match those of its more famous neighbour, it is no surprise that the appellation is occasionally touted as a Sancerre ‘alternative’. regular readers will probably have noticed I tend to avoid ‘alternative’ comparisons; I believe they do little more than damn with faint praise, and it is always worth exploring an appellation with an open mind, free of preconceptions formed when drinking similar styles from other regions. This is the path to the realisation that most Loire Valley appellations have something brilliant to offer, a truth which applies just as much to Menetou-Salon as it does to Jasnières (Domaine de Bellivière, anybody?) and Cour-Cheverny (François Cazin, or Laura Semeria, and one or two others).

Domaine Pellé

Here in Menetou-Salon there are a number of vignerons turning out wines worthy of our attention in their own right, without comparison to larger or grander neighbours. Two I have focused on numerous times over the last decade or two have been Philippe Gilbert and Bertrand Minchin. Another is Domaine Pellé, and having recently returned to taste the latest releases from this domaine I am reminded of two things. First, on the basis of these and other tastings, I would say this domaine makes the very best wines in the appellation. Secondly, I have been guilty at not paying this domaine and its wines sufficient attention over the past decade. I suppose this update, filled with tasting notes on recent vintages, begins the process of righting this wrong.

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