Tag Archives: Sancerre

Eurocentric Tasting – 9/07/2013

Neville Yates imports wines from Europe, South Africa and New Zealand under his Eurocentric banner. I was first introduced to him when I was the wine buyer for King & Godfree, tasting a few of the wines with him. On my journey I visited some German wineries and caught up with several more at Prowein, leading me to surmise that he has one of the best collection of German producers in Australia. His range is eclectic at times with more than a few ‘natural’ producers that come up with some interesting examples. He was showing some of the new arrivals at Pei Modern in Melbourne.

Francesco Scanavino Diamant Blanc 2008
Very classic metodo classico nose. Generous fruit, fairly simple and clean on the front, hint if creamy texture.

Lancelot-Pienne Blanc de Blancs
Fairly developed open autolysis notes, very yeasty bready. Nice oxidative citrus.

Champagne Geoffroy Expression Brut
Cleaner tighter yeast notes. Rounder more earthy savoury dark berry notes, heavier on the pinot noir?

Champagne Secret Rosé
Open generous ripe red fruit nose, but tight fine and crisp savoury texture on the palate.

Champagne Chartogne-Taillet Rosé Brut
Fine pure but very complex cheesy charcuterie nose. Bold full expressive combination of red citrus and subtle savoury meats.

Benoit Ente Bourgogne Aligoté 2009
Oak dominant chardonnay style. Soft gentle vanilla creamy texture, some white peach.

Gautheron Chablis 2011
Sharp fig kiwi skin, overly leesy. Flat and dull.

Domaine Oudin Chablis 2009
Rich creamy buttery chardonnay openness. Overworked flabby lacking focus and crispness.

Domaine Arnaud Tessier Meursault Casse-Tetes 2010
Nice developed stone fruit and oak maturity integrated. Bold and generous but not heavy or hot, fairly rich and creamy from malo, but elegant and complex.

Arnaud Ente 2008 Meursault
Much more exuberant and flintier, more citrus than stone. Fuller smokier toaster, better malo integration, dense.

Dombeya Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2011
Big whack of ripe creamy juicy pineapple. Fairly soft subtle but showing that sweet vanilla pineapple crumble character.

Domaine Montvac Mélodine Vacqueyras 2011
Spicy quince apricot kernel. Open light round spice fruit friendliness.

Willi Schaefer Graacher Trocken 2011
Clean pure lime sherbet. Crisp very light pure and excellent for the price.

Schloss Lieser Dry 2011
More intense mineralic ripe deep fruit notes. More intensity and character, fuller fresher.

Emrich-Schönleber Monziger Halenberg Trocken 2011
Slightly earthy red soil minerality, subtle orange sherbet. Bold texture, generosity and density of fruit and acid.

Rebholz Kastanienbusch GG 2011
Open savoury earthy natural wild style. Subtle subdued broad. Singular.

Pierre Frick Riesling 2010
Candied oxidised pear banana caramel. Nondescript middling Alsace wine.

Grunhauser Bruderberg 2011
Intense quince floral kumquat notes. Density of viscosity and sugar, nice bite of acidic quince notes.

Emrich-Schönleber Lenz 2010
On the stripped side, de-acidified? Flat on the finish.

Forstmeister Geltz Zilliken Riesling 2009
Nice density and ripeness. Great depth and character, dry sweet well-balanced.

William Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Kabinett 2011
Spicy savoury mineral complexity, nice lively fruit profile, round and yet brisk.

Fritz Haag Brauneberger Kabinett 2011
Very quiet subtle nose, but delivering plenty on the palate, wonderful length and focus, but plenty of personality.

Rebholz Birkweiler Kastanienbusch Spätlese 2011
Wild green pepper spice fig. Generosity yet exquisitely balanced sweetness. Loving this producer.

Schäfer Frölich Halenberg Spätlese 2009
Nice talcy flinty lifted citrus floral minerality. Bold full viscous sweetness, but just a hint of complex savouriness.

Schäfer-Fröhlich Halenberg Spätlese 2005
Nice generous soft rich ripe but not heavy. Still plenty of life but looking simple currently.

Dombeya Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch 2012
Tight green under-ripe.

Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc South Africa 2012
Big tropical passion fruit. Delivers exactly what people want and is very good to boot.

Sebastian Riffault Akmèniné Sancerre 2008 (naturel)
Smells like pure honey. But still dry. Interesting, not sure it’s great though. Hipster wine?

Intellego Chenin Blanc 2011 Swartland
Interesting texturally. Different in terms of fruit to Vouvray etc.

Domaine de la Tournelle Trousseau des Corvées 2011
Clean sharp precise but good personality. Most certainly a food wine.

Roland Pignard Beaujolais Villages 2010
Strawberry spice. Very lovely.

Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Les Charmes 2011
Lean spicy under-ripe.

Pierre Thillardon Chenas Les Boccards 2010
Mean and lean, sharp.

Emile Ballard Le Grand Chemin 2008
Nice soft berry notes. Still on the sharp acidic side, a little aldehydic.

Scanavino Barbera d’Asti 2011
Tight brisk, great balance of dark fruits and spicy mulberry.

Domaine Des Espiers Cotes Du Rhone 2011
Bright fresh sufficiently savoury spicy but light and friendly with a touch of length.

Domaine Des Espiers Gigondas 2010
Earthy savoury spice, base of dark fruits underneath. Round soft yet fresh savoury red berries.

Domaine Faury Syrah 2011
Quite spicy and peppery. On the boring side…

Domaine Faury Saint Joseph 2009
A tad too much sweet oak.

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Finishing big (Sancerre, France – Day Three)

It is important to remember that everything is relative, and also that there are numerous implications depending on the person and the word. Language is complicated as much as communication itself, and over the past 14 months (to the day in fact) I have had so many situations where things can have different meanings depending on audience and context. My understanding of things, not only about wine, has changed significantly and I have discovered that it is important to always clarify and speak relatively. For example, there is a word in French that will be familiar to most wine-lovers that actually has different meanings in English which are related but have different connotations. The word is ‘grand’, and in the context of vineyard classification for such regions as Burgundy and Alsace, it means ‘great’ or essentially ‘the best’. The word can also mean ‘big’ or ‘large’, which implies size rather than importance and in terms of wine, could refer to the size of vineyards or a winery for example. When a winery produces 3.5 million bottles per year in Sancerre, this is both great and large, but in the Australian context it is merely a medium-sized winery. Everything is relative. What is interesting is that in my humble opinion I began my week with the most important producer in Sancerre and finished with the largest, and the quality of the wines to decline with each estate I visited.

Cellars in Sancerre

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All things bright and beautiful (Sancerre, France – Day Two)

Sancerre is another one of those wine words that is almost a synonym for white wine. The white wines have been well known along time not only in France but also in the UK, where as has been suggested by Chris Kissack, Sancerre is an easy name to say and thus ask for. Sancerre is on the Loire River and is thus part of the valley, but it is a long way even from Touraine let alone the western parts of the Loire. It is actually closer to Burgundy which it has more in common in terms of terroir, climate and even varieties. The AOC for Sancerre white wines was created in 1936 around the same time that most of the AOCs in the Loire Valley were established. The cultivation of grapes in this part of France is believed to date back to the Roman era, so it has a much longer history. The name is taken from the village where a castle once stood with nine towers, only one of which remains. This hill and surrounding slopes make it ideal for viticulture in a pretty cool climate, as the exposure to the sun improves ripeness. This is in contrast to Touraine which is a little more flat but also a little warmer. The key grape variety here is sauvignon blanc and is without question the best known place for the variety. 20% of the vineyards however are planted to pinot noir which produce both red and rose wines for which an additional AOC was created in 1959. With the market changing away from sancerre red wines they are beginning to produce more rose wine which is in a very light dry and food-friendly style. The white wines differ depending mostly on the specific terroir on which the vineyards are planted, and also a little on how the wines are vinified.
Always work to be done in the vineyards

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Henri Bourgeois – 28/11/2012

L’Elegance de Petit Bourgeois 2011 (Vin de Pays)
Very grassy herbaceous green fruit, crisp and varietal in character. Bright fresh and generous, again varietal in nature and nothing particular about it. Well made commercial wine.

Les Baronnes 2011 Sancerre
Showing a little more minerality and restraint, less obvious varietal characters, crisp pure and fresh. Lighter and fuller at the same time, more extension, balance and breadth to the wine. Generosity but also a little more warmth and texture. Good ripeness.

Pouilly-Fume 2011
Slightly more subdued on the nose, not as bright but also a little riper profile. Denser but cleaner at the same time, more in balance and harmonious, more focus and drive on the palate, not as obvious and not as warm. Better character for the style, and more pleasant drinking. Does have a slight sweatiness to it, they probably sell heaps of it.

Le Mont Damnes de Bourgeois 2011 Sancerre
Smokier and much more mineralic, flinty and granitic on the nose, very interesting and complex. Gentle on the palate, some nice viscosity to go with the freshness and fruit ripeness. Herbaceous and nice green fruit character, reflective still of the variety more than the appellation.

La Demoiselle 2011 Pouilly-Fume
Again, less obvious on the varietal character, perhaps more reflective of its terroir than the sancerre wines. Some green olive, unsalted capers, quite mineralic. Subtle complex yet approachable and fresh. Good extension on the palate, fruit flavours linger quite nicely. Perhaps vintage better in Pouilly than in Sancerre.

Jadis 2010 (unfiltered)
Bright tropical and floral on the nose, quite ripe and fresh but not overt. Peach texture(?), nectarine, apple, pear and grapefruit, quite tropical but not typical of the variety. Bold full expression, really ripe and fruity, pleasant and a crowd-pleaser. Perhaps went through malo?

Jadis 2006
More developed but still in the tropical realm, showing some lees influence on the nose too. Deep and full, good extension, softening in fruit intensity compared to the younger vintage. Looking a little creamy in texture, round and broad, fills the palate with good fruit and acid balance. Still quite young.

La Bourgeoise 2010 (flint area)
Has that stinky smoky complex nose of barrel and lees stirring, but also intense and ripe tropical notes. Certainly showing its flintiness, but will show more in time. Rolls across the palate, but actually stops a little short and flat. Promising start but disappointing finish. Not too much of anything, good fruit, good acid, just doesn’t have the logical conclusion. Nice and rich and broad though, perhaps needs more time in the bottle.

D’Anton 2010 (silex)
Flintiness smacks you in the face, very expressive jumps out of the glass. Ripe and tropical, quite a lot going on in the wine. Exuberant is the word. Much better balance and extension, nice and ripe tropical fruit fills the mouth, well contained acids, very young and will benefit from age.

D’Anton 2002 (silex)
Opening up nicely, flint and lees subsiding and richness ripeness of the tropical stone fruit expressing more. Quite intense and fruit sweet, no green edges to it at all, big and bold expression, still very young though. The characters seem to come in stages; first mineral, then fruit, then winemaking, then maturity.

Etienne Henri 2010 (new oak vinification)
Toasty marmalade notes, quite intense but not too powerful in expression. Ripe low-yielding crop, high acidity and density, quiet at the moment, still to early to see the true potential and character.

Les Baronnes 2009 (pinot noir)
Clean pure, balance between red fruit and a little spicy stalk note. Pleasant easy-drinking varietal style. Good consistency and delivery.

La Bourgeoise 2009 (pinot noir)
Like raw pasta, kind of doughy, spicy red fruits. Pretty quiet actually, not showing a lot. Bright fruit sweet currants and cherries. Deeper and tighter tannin structure, quite long in tannins in fact, a little overworked and unsubtle.

Le Chene Saint-Etienne 2002 (pinot noir)
Deep hauntingly complex, smoky meaty and mushroomy, very subtle red fruits. Not heavy but pretty dense, good acids, breadth but it’s all about the savoury elements with this wine. It will continue to evolve, but I’m concerned there’s not enough intensity and weight to it to fill out the structure. Seems to indicate umami on the nose but doesn’t deliver on the palate.

Vendage de la Saint Luc 2007 (late harvest, 45g/L sugar)
Lovely smoky flinty minerality, not showing much fruit for now quite subdued. Full flavoured, but also very well balanced acid and sugar. Sweet and fruity but also contributing a lot of savoury elements like minerality and a very delicate hint of green characters. Not obviously sweet and certainly not cloying, a wonderfully diverse food companion.
A barrel of Henri Bourgeois wine

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Jean-Max Roger – 28/11/2012

Menetou-Salon 2011 (sauvignon blanc)
Quite bright, very classic varietal characters, plenty of fruit and grassy cat piss vegetal notes. Very basic, clean and fresh, nice fruit not heavy or overly ripe, not tropical, good balance pleasant more of an aperitif style wine. Freshness is the key.

Pouilly Fume 2011
More subtle subdued and elegant, delicate yet ripe fruit, somewhere between pear and citron. Riper fuller mouth feel but still very pure and fresh. Slightly rounder with a little more warmth and depth to it. Lingers on the palate longer than the previous wine, introducing a little more savoury character.

Les Caillots 2011 (blend of different plots with the same soil type)
Quieter and more assured, some intensity and depth aromatically, slightly shy fruit. Much broader and leaner on the palate, more depth and minerality again, more sea-shell characters, I want some oysters with this wine. Tight and focused acids, purity yet some extra dimensions that will develop in time.

Cuvee C.D. 2011
A little more expressive aromatically, showing more vegetal herbaceous notes, even a hint of spice as well. Good ripeness, well integrated but also complex fruit, nice balance and minerality spice coming through on the palate. Certainly more varietal in character but still sancerre. Texture and some depth.

Cuvee G.C. 2011
Deeper more complex nose, somehow earthier and even a little mealy in the nose, perhaps through natural ferment and lees-stirring? Some complex cheesy characters showing through. Fuller yet all on the mid-palate, quite dense but nor seeing the right balance or extension on the palate.

Cuvee C.M. 2011
Back to minerality and sea-salt influence aromatically, purity of fruit, a little floral as well. Depth weight and power, very expressive and full fruit. A little bit warm though, heavy on the alcohol out of balance. Quite concentrated but also disappears on the back palate relatively quickly, also quite green.

2011 Vielles Vignes
Very quiet and complex nose, not showing much for now, perhaps even a tad reductive. Great depth and intensity on the palate, a full textured ripe mouthfeel with some alcohol to support. Very powerful expression a lot going on, but the oak is very young and dominating for now. Needs one year to subside and open up a little before drinking.

Vielles Vignes 2010
Ripe rich yet savoury, very complex creamy and toasty, floral but also ripe fruit and dried/toasted herbs. Full expressive and concentrated fruit, dense toasty yet subtle oak, good structure, great complexity, minerality showing very well, slightly flat and sour finish though, still developing?

Vielles Vignes 2008
Quite intense nose, very floral but also some sweet(?) sea shell notes, juicy almost tropical fruits, even a bit candied. Soft subtle smooth and rich, yet showing some nice maturity and depth, broad and silky through the palate, does sancerre gain more sexiness as it ages? Probably. Generous yet mysterious.

Vielles Vignes 2007
Tighter more acidic tropical fruits, particularly pineapple, minerality comes through a little later. Oak has subsided and integrated by now, barely noticeable. Wonderfully complex yet still very alive, youthful and rich, great layers and waves across the palate, excellent balance of fruit and savoury, still plenty left in it.

Rose 2010
Meaty and mature on the nose, a tad flabby and probably on the way out. Pleasant but lacking enough freshness and fruit. Good acids though.

Rose 2011
Brighter tighter and juicier, more inviting on the nose. Good berry characters, but still an interesting meaty edge to it. Nice and savoury, a complex nut and cheese side to it. Concentrated, a little bit of woody vegetal character, certainly a food wine.

Menetou-Salon 2010 (pinot noir)
Very light in colour. Bright fresh fruity berry notes, lively and enthusiastic almost like a Beaujolais. Fresh juicy cherry and strawberry, great crisp light and fresh varietal style. Pretty good for the style, good value, an excellent quaffer.

Cuvee la Grange Dimiere 2010
Quite soft clean nice and precise, very focused and pure, but with some complexity as well. A touch savoury around the edges. Lovely depth balance finesse and elegance, nice minerality and supportive acids, clean and precise in terms of varietal character, intense but not at all heavy. Great character.

Cuvee Vielles Vignes 2010
Deeper tighter toastier nose, darker berries and more concentration. Juicy full fruit expression, dense and more tannin from fruit and oak, more powerful and expressive, but softens quite nicely on the back. Still early needs a few more years to soften around the edges.

Cuvee la Grange Diniere 2009
Soft and lean, good red fruit with a hint of mint herb and rosemary. Bright intense yet very balanced and fresh, intense on the mid-palate, quite full tannins and slightly masculine on the back. Fuller expression, some poached pear in red wine. Deeper and certainly more appealing to lovers of fuller red wines.

Cuvee Vielles Vignes 2009
Very closed and shy on the nose, yet to open up. Full silky and expressive but still with good tannin concentration. Still developing and softening, actually some excellent potential. I’m being more impressed with the red wines of Sancerre.

Cuvee la Grange Diniere 2008
Toasty slightly meaty nicely concentrated, dense but subtle fruit. Excellent balance, very pure yet complex great fresh fruit but some minerality coming through, juicy bright fresh yet complex with good length.

Cuvee Vielles Vignes 2008
A very pretty nose, some floral elements with the fruit, elegance yet approachability, depth yet brightness. Classic pinot noir characteristics, soft silk tannins, some tasty new oak very late on the palate showing there is still plenty of youth left in the wine. Very long and complex, continues to evolve.

Cuvee Vielles Vignes 2006
Classic pinot noir maturity, dense but showing more mushroom earthy notes. Developing a little quickly to be honest, not sure about the more recent vintages standing the test of time. Still excellent for the price. Toasty and very concentrated youthful tannins, much fuller and denser than the younger wine. Very different extraction maceration.

Cuvee Vielles Vignes 2000
A very nice stink to it, needs to breathe a little bit to open out. Classic burgundy style of old world with lots of wild complexity. Some serious Asian food characters; reminds me of eating at a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant on Victoria Street, Richmond. Classic umami! Bean shoots.

The Jean-Max Roger white wines

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Roland Tissier – 27/11/2012

Sancerre 2011
Juicy floral ripe fruit, kiwi pineapple, quite tropical with plenty of ripe citrus elements. Very bold and aromatic, inviting and fresh. Bright clean, good on the front palate, very fruity and quite broad, pleasant and extremely drinkable but not at all complex.

Sancerre 2009
More floral but similar in character to the 2011. More orchard fruit than citrus or tropical, even a little white berry character. Bright nice minerality, lovely and supple, quite subtle as well, long on the palate, great fruit complexity, builds a little and then sits quite nicely.

Saint Benoit 2006
Concentrated dense and complex, more masculine and serious, still quite youthful and locked up. Bold expressive on the mid-palate, quite intense texture and very long. Amazingly the barrique character is still showing as youthful after six years, battonage adds an extra layer of character. Minerality is wonderful but hard to see around the oak and fruit for the time-being. Give it another five years and it will really start to open out and show more character on the back of the palate.

Saint Benoit 2010
Wonderfully complex yet concentrated, exceptional balance between fruit, floral, minerality, a little flint and mineral character yet to truly express itself. Express but so subtle and sumptuous. Ripeness but elegance, balance, structure, harmony depth and length, excellent quality, but I need to see it again.

Sancerre Rouge 2011
A little volatile on the nose, too stalky and oaky, out of balance. Medicinal on the nose. Quite simple on the palate, broad and lacking in structure. Drinkable but not a great example.

Enamel tanks at Roland Tissier

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Domaine du Nozay – 27/11/2012

Estate 2011
Clean crisp fresh fruits, very (very) subtle green herb aromas, but mostly about the crispness of the fruit and freshness of the acids. Quite bold and expressive on the front palate, lot’s of lovely ripe fruit, citrus leading very much into tropical characters. Really lovely and full in flavour, fills every corner of the palate, but fades quickly and freshly. Perhaps a much riper part of the appellation? Leaf thinning making a big difference in the final ripening of the berries?

Chateau du Nozay 2011
More subtle and subdued, quieter and more reflective, showing a little more influence of minerality, a little sea influence, I want some shell fish style. Rounder yet bolder, builds on the palate, wonderful depth, not a lot of concentration, harmonious but also young and reflecting the oak treatment a little at the moment. Sample a little cold to be honest. Will actually age quite well, I’d like to see its trajectory. Some texture lingers on the palate. Less fruit more savoury vegetal influence.

Domaine du Nozay wines

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Domaine Vacheron – 27/11/2012

Classic 2011
Lovely bright and pure. Wonderfully crisp and mineralic on the nose, subtle but noticeable green herb component, citrus and a delicate passionfruit character. Mouth filling but light and clean, crisp balanced and pure, wonderful palate weight and roundness, approachable and yet elegant, harmonious and complete in the mouth, but still aromatic and fruit-driven.

Guigne-Chevres 2011
A slightly more flinty minerality, tighter citrus notes, a little more subtle and even a bit floral. Extremely young and still not expressing a lot, but wonderfully direct and focused on the palate. Good ripe but not overt fruit character, integrated and elegant, quite subtle.

Les Romains 2011
Less minerality but more complex, combination of fruit, floral and some earthier contexts too. Richer and bolder yet still very restrained and elegant. Depth and breadth more prominent, also a little denser with more weight on the palate. More texture to it, showing slightly more barrel characters in youth.

Chambrates 2010
Creamier and a little vanilla root on the nose, riper and more concentrated fruits, approaching stone fruit and sweet citrus notes. A little gun barrel flint on the nose, even a touch of incense. Bright ripe pear but very complex in structure, a little oxidatively complex, integrated oak influence, wonderfully concentrated. Approaching a more masculine style of sancerre.

Le Paradis 2010
Really intense passionfruit flower and skin, ripe juicy citrus fruits, grapefruit and mandarin, very aromatic. A really intense passionfruit carries through onto the palate, still quite young and needs some more time to relax and open up a little.

Rouge 2011
Bright black fruits and cherries, but also a slightly medicinal herbal edge to it. A little stalky like a NZ PN. Smooth straight and light, brisk and clean, balanced with just enough fruit ripeness and not so much oak to interfere. Good purity and harmony, but not really an ageing wine. Great drinking.

Belle Dame 2008
Denser and oakier on the nose, much more concentrated brooding and masculine. Even a little wild at times but still understandable. Rich bold and ripe, some great fruit but also some savoury earth and tomato leaf mint characters. Quite dense with expressive grippy but not heavy tannins. Tight, still very young.

Belle Dame 2009
Very quite and subdued, subtle and closed. Darker fruit less bright, perhaps as it has been open for a week. Warmer vintage very bold and powerful, supple and silky. More of a red wine vintage, tightly wound but richer and fuller structure.

Belle Dame 2010
Earthy concentrated nose, dark but very closed fruit, fascinating savoury characters entice me to discover more. Quite tightly coiled, a lot less fruit but very concentrated. Very full in the mouth with a lot going on. Needs a lot of time to soften open and become more approachable. Really amazing structure with so much potential for ageing. One of the best reds from the Loire I have tasted. Incredibly long on the palate.

Rose 2011
Bright strawberries and floral notes but also a little minerality and some wild savoury notes. Juicy ripe a little bit of R/S, full yet light and approachable. Pleasant balanced extremely food-friendly, but genuine and very drinkable.
Some of the Vacheron wines along with some local rocks

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Personality plus (Sancerre, France – Day One)

Any skill for organisation I may have developed on this trip seems to have abandoned me on my break, and the journey from Touraine to the Central Loire Valley was the victim. The first thing I realised was that Orleans, the city I had decided to stay in during my time in Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire, was at least 90 minutes away. The problem was that I realised this the day I was set to check-in, and changing to a motel close to Pouilly cost me the first nights accommodation in Orleans. My second big error was that I had forgotten my initial plan, which was to stay in Tours an extra night and stop at a winery on the way to Sancerre, one which I had made an appointment with. The winery is located about 150 minutes away from Sancerre, and driving back for one appointment was not something I wanted to do. So due to my incompetence I then had to cancel this appointment, something I felt quite ashamed about and also disappointed. My mood picked up a lot and I managed to move on a little as I stopped at three chateaux in Touraine which were amazing. The castles in the Loire Valley are well known to be some of the most beautiful and grandiose in Europe, as most of them hark back to the Rennaisance period when the French monarchy was one of the most wealthy and influential.
The Sancerre Centre

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Alphonse Mellot – 26/11/2012

2012 Reds – excellent balance and structure, not heavy but certainly expressive, good acid balance with supple yet bold tannins. In certain wines very prominent blackberries, but also a little savoury.

2012 Whites – exceptional balance, some wines showing amazing complexity, exquisite minerality and harmonious fruit. Depth and completeness never before seen in wines made entirely from sauvignon blanc. Interesting once in the bottle after a few years. Excellent ripeness without being too much of anything. The best balance between minerality, fruit (not tropical) and herbaceous elements I’ve seen.

Penitent 2009 (Chardonnay)
Bright juicy and fruity aromas, lovely and ripe possibly due to the vintage, slightly candied and floral, a hint of fennel and artichoke. Broad light a little crisp with some nice complexity but not lasting too long on the palate. Pleasant, balanced and fruit-driven chardonnay, not a lot of oak to get in the way. A little texture to add a dimension.

Edmond 2000
Getting a slight urine aroma in a good way, quite complex, some grapefruit, apple, pear. Very beautiful complex bouquet, completely unique to sancerre. Expression but harmony, quite full flavour, still plenty of exuberant fruit starting to find it’s groove, great minerality fills the mouth and carries the wine through the palate, still quite young and plenty of life left in it. Balanced, complex, expressive and lively. Wonderful savoury elements. Wonderful ripeness in the wine, absolutely no harsh edges.

La Moussiere 2002
Wonderful pear aromas, some lovely quince and fig, concentrated fruit, not too ripe but expressive, not at all tropical, more orchard fruit and a little citrus. A bit sherbet. Quite light but wonderfully soft generous broad and mouth-filling. Graceful in its balance, less intense and complex than the previous wine, supple subtle and full. Nice extension on the palate, drinking well and will for another five years. Doesn’t taste of sauvignon at all.

Grand Champs 2007 Pinot Noir
Amazingly bright and intense fruit with an element of olives as well. Lovely and soft and rich but also intense and soft, but nicely tight in its structure with some wound-up tannins. A nice slightly stalky green side to it as well, still taking time to open up. A totally different expression of pinot noir, serious food wine.

Generation 2003 (19th generation Mellot, 5th generation Alphonse)
So many things going on in the aromas, fruit and earth, savoury and somehow meaty as well. Rich and yet hauntingly subtle on the nose. Rich full ripe and volumous, powerfully expressive but showing some richness and complexity of age, a little dense and broad, not the same concentration and briskness of acidity and minerality on the palate as other wines. Already losing something on the front of the palate.

Some of the Alphonse Mellot wines

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