Showing posts with label Sancerre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sancerre. Show all posts

Monday, March 4, 2019

Mellot Sancerre. Surprise Tasting In Kinsale's Finns' Table


Mellot Sancerre. Surprise Tasting
 In Kinsale's Finns' Table
On a stony hill in Sancerre

Quelle surprise! In Finns’ Table Kinsale recently, we were delighted to have the opportunity, totally unexpected, to talk with Olivier of Joseph Mellot wines from Sancerre. 

It was late in the evening when Olivier arrived but he was as enthusiastic as if it were a sunny morning by the banks of famous Loire. 

“It’s a very long story,” he said, referring to the family’s history in the area. It began in 1513! In the 17th century, the family obviously knew their wine well enough for César Mellot to be appointed sommelier to Louis XIV, this paving the rue for a long dynasty of passionate winemakers. Sancerre by the way, is as close to Paris as it is to Tours and then too the kings regularly visited the chateaux on the Loire.

In the 20th century, Alphonse Mellot, is the first winemaker of Sancerre to exhibit his wines at the Foire de Paris and to win several medals in wine and culinary events. He then opened a warehouse in the Halle aux vins of Bercy to develop his sales in the capital. 

Nowadays, Joseph Mellot wines are sold in over 40 countries, and distributed here in Ireland by Longueville Wines. And Longueville was represented in Finns Table by none other than Eoghan O’Hea who I hadn’t set eyes on since his Tennents days.

The soil of course goes back even further, tens of millions of years. “The ocean has been here twice,” said Olivier. Flint dominates the soil now and it and Sauvignon Blanc get on very well together. “It is a well draining soil, gives lots of aromatics and minerality. Last but not least, the sun warms the stones and if you walk in the vines at 11.00pm, you’ll find it 2-4 degrees warmer then elsewhere as the warm stones return the heat to the vines. The night-time warmth encourages the grapes to ripen, an earlier harvest. Amazing.”

The Mellot vineyard is on hills in Sancerre, at 450 metres altitude, above the River Loire which still has some 500 kms to travel before it reaches the Atlantic. Wine-Searcher says Sancerre is typically less "obvious" than the most famous New World styles of Sauvignon Blanc; less grassy than those from Marlborough and less overtly citrussy than those from Chile. Once upon a time, Sancerre made mostly red wines but now their Pinot Noir accounts for just about 20% of wine. But that may change again with global warming!

Julie Finn had been gently and generously introducing us to the wines before Olivier’s arrival. The red was Le Connétable, Cuvée Prestige, a red Sancerre of character! The fruit is raised on those hillsides rich in flint. It is matured in oak barrel for one year, local French oak that is, and then one year in bottle before release. 

It boasts an aromatic persistence with notes of blackberry and cherry.  Matched perfectly my starter of beef brisket and CL’s main course of lamb.

We also enjoyed the Domaine de Bellecours 2016, a delicious Sauvignon Blanc with a pale gold colour and aromas of tropical fruit. Palate shows elegant balance of freshness and fruit. Superb with the restaurant’s Oysterhaven mussels starter and later with the Seafood Bourride (Provencal fish stew).

Cuvée Pierre Etienne 2015 is another Sauvignon Blanc, smooth and elegant and quite a treat. Beautiful yellow/golden colour, sign of the ageing in barrel which has also tamed the strong mineral character of the younger wines. Generous and intense, with a nice aromatic persistence. 

This cuvée was created in tribute to the founder of the Mellot dynasty, Pierre Etienne, and his descendants. It is vinified only in the best vintages and just 3,000 bottles are produced. The front and neck labels are reproductions from the 1930s. We were really privileged to sample this on the night! A mega merci to Julie and John!







Monday, September 10, 2018

Sophie Bertin Sancerre is a Star at O'Brien's Annual Sale


Focus on the Whites in the O'Brien's Annual Sale
Reds may outnumber the whites by about two to one in the ongoing annual sale at O'Brien's but there are some excellent whites to consider. We tasted the first three over the past week while the two at the end were tasted a few months back. All good, but we do advise putting the Sophie Bertin Sancerre at #1 on your shopping list!

La Côte Blanche de Sophie Bertin Sancerre (AOP) 2016, 13%, €14.95 (down from 21.95).

Of the three whites tasted this past few days, this is the star. Not that you’d know it from the pale straw colour, much the same as the Waiheke. The magic starts with the aromas, a degree or two more intense, white fruit and floral notes, minerality and more, full of promise.

And that promise is handsomely delivered. The palate has extra intensity, more body, rounded and flavourful, perfect balance between fruit and acidity, plus quite a long and satisfying dry finish. Very Highly Recommended. An ideal pairing with seafood, salad, or simply by itself. The winery recommendations are Goat's cheese, Risotto, Salads, Shellfish, Smoked fish.

This top class Sancerre benefits from the Domaine’s “fantastic soils (chalk and clay, and flint)" and a policy of reducing yields to increase fruit flavours.  In the cellar, the wine is matured on its lees for several months.

Rabl Grüner Veltliner Löss Kamptal (Austria) 2017, 12%, €14.95 (was 18.45).

This light straw coloured wine has aromas of white fruits, light pepper in the background. The purity of the fruit (peachy) is exceptional - the Grüner Veltliner, known for its aromatic fruity wines, gets on very well with the local Löss soil - no shortage of minerality  and you have a dry refreshing finish. Highly Recommended. Well priced too - especially now!

The Rabl Winery in Langenlois, Austria’s largest wine-producing city, has three guiding principles: 1. Only perfect grapes can yield a top wine. 2. Must from perfect grapes allows minimal intervention. 3. No fear of powerful wines! Rabl are well regarded and they recommend pairing this generous and refreshing wine with light starters or as an aperitif. Should go well too with simple fish dishes and salads.


Man O’ War Sauvignon Blanc Waiheke Island (New Zealand) 2016, 12%, €16.95 (was 19.95).

Very light straw is the colour of this Waiheke Island Sauvignon Blanc. The island, known for its beaches and vineyards, is a short ferry ride to the east of Auckland on the North Island. Aromas tend to citrus as does the fairly intense palate of this fresh and crisp wine. Acidity is not shy at all and, with a hint of grapefruit, there’s a pleasing refreshing finish. Recommended. By the way, it is not entirely Sauvignon as there is five per cent Semillon in the blend.

Winery note: The 2016 Sauvignon blanc, with 5% Semillon, is a stylish vintage with typical herbaceous aromas, tight acidity and ample texture. Typical of Waiheke Sauvignon blanc, our 2016 Estate Savvy is perfect with a year or two of age allowing the wine to mellow and showcase the wines structure and longevity.

Two Others to Note

Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment €22.95 (was 24.95).
The grapes are grown high up in circles around the top of the craters on Santorini, one of the Greek islands. Sometimes wines from hot climates lack acidity, but that is not the case here. Try it with shellfish. The grapes are soaked on the skins after crushing for a long period. This gives the wines their excellent structure and complexity of flavour. Well worth a try!

Terredora Greco di Tufo Loggia, 16.95 (was €18.95)
Colour is a light straw and the intense aromas feature white fruits and blossoms. The intensity is also on the palate, citrus notes here too and a rich minerality also prominent in this elegant and full-bodied wine. Definitely has that strong personality and a long dry finish. Greco di Tufo is the grape and you’ll find it difficult to get one better than this!

O’Brien’s themselves rave about this one: “Tasted by the wine team against two other major names in the region (Campania), this wine won hands down and was immediately listed for us. Simply amazing mineral driven, rich, complex white. Utterly irresistible!”

The recently published The Modern History of Italian Wine also has high praise for Terredora. “The vineyards are… among the best in Irpinia. Terredora cultivates indigenous grapes only.” 


Monday, July 2, 2018

White Wine Weather. Three of the very best!


Trimbach Riesling Alsace (AC) 2015, 13%, €15.96 (was 19.95) O’Brien’s

Trimbach (not Jean methinks!) sum up their wine story that began in 1626: “exceptional terroirs and fine wines”. And so they continue. This is “a great example of dry Riesling” according to Decanter, talking about the 2014 edition.

It is indeed a lovely wine with a light strawy colour. Apples and a touch of lime in the restrained aromas. Smooth on the palate with terrific white fruit flavours and the amazing dry finish goes on and on. Well made as you’d expect from this producer and Very Highly Recommended (even at the regular price - I got this in a sale).


Gitton Père & Fils Les Montachins Sancerre (AC) 2014, 12.5%, €23.95 Karwig Wines

Colour of this 100% Sauvignon Blanc is a light straw, tints of green. Fairly intense aromas, lime and apple, mineral notes too. Terrific rush of outstanding flavours, citrus now prominent, matched by an equal burst of the most refreshing acidity. And the finish lacks nothing at all, long and satisfying.  No need to say too much about this one, just Very Highly Recommended.

Speaking of the variety, Wine-Searcher.com says the key selling point of Sauvignon Blanc “is its straightforwardness” and that is certainly the case here. Its home land is the Loire and it is now found growing successfully in quite a few countries, notably in New Zealand.

Pair with oysters, crab, delicate white fish, green vegetables and salads, and cheese (goats in particular).

Albet i Noya El Fanio Xarel-lo 2016 Penedes (DO), 13%, now €17.00 Mary Pawles Wines.

Colour of this organic wine is light gold.
Citrus, gooseberry, floral notes too, in the nose.

Lovely creamy mouthfeel here - it had been on lees for six months; herb flavours to the fore, thyme and rosemary and other notes from the local scrub, fresh and lively acidity too make this a very friendly wine indeed, a distinctive one also and Very Highly Recommended. Great value as well.

El Fanio is the name of the vineyard and the grape variety is Xarel-lo, familiar to many of you as a key grape in Cava. The wine is aged in cement eggs (not very romantic!) and in acacia barrels.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Loire Lessons #1: Cuvee La Grange Dîmière


Loire Lessons #1

Jean Max Roger, Cuvee La Grange Dîmière, Sancerre 2010, 12.5%, €21.35 Karwig Wines

Pinot Noir
Will be heading off to the Loire later this year and thought I’d better get a bit of practice on the wines. Karwig’s have quite a selection, indeed a whole shelf full, and soon, with no little help from Emily, I had enough to start my Loire lessons.

This Rosé was the first and very pleasant it turned out to be. The immediate pressing of the Pinot Noir grape “gives a unique salmon colour, along with lightness, elegance and finesse”.

But, dare I suggest, it is a rosé with backbone. Maybe backbone is too strong a term. It sure has the pink colour of the salmon and I think I can safely suggest that it also some of its suppleness.

A very pleasant combination of colour, texture and flavour. A winner for me and Very Highly Recommended.

It is called "La Grange Dîmière" in reference to one of Bué’s ancient tithe barns which constitutes the oldest part of the winery. Bué is the family village.
Bird on the vine
* On the subject of the Loire, if anyone has any tips, not just on the wine, I'd be glad to hear from you!