When we arrive in Sancerre , weather is grey . A change from the previous days . But the sky soon cleared-up, like our spirits, as the visit and tasting with Alphonse Mellot began . We met him with Jean Louis , a friend of mine who happens to be a friend of Alphonse too . Both fly planes and know each other for a long time . Several persons joined , including Pascal Jolivet , a Sancerre wine producer , his wife , a couple of swedes who happened to walk by , and Cynthia , a young woman from New York City who works for Wildman & Sons, an importer .
Alphonse Mellot is the heir of 19 generations of wine producers . All this began in the 15th century ... [ Picture on the left shows a "Tronconique 900 litres" cask ]
He began to work in 1970 . This time was the wine industry era . Big business and big production . In 1980 , Alphonse Mellot changed course and took a radical change of direction for the Domaine de la Moussière's philosophy. He understood that the volume-oriented philosophy was a dead end and decided to take the hard road to quality .
The Domaine de la Moussière is following organic viticulture rules 100% since about 8 years : Organic viticulture without fixed frame or rules . What is called "agriculture raisonnée" was started here 25 years ago . Now modern tools allow the monitoring of the vineyard : Meteorology sensors in the vineyard help check the risks : Temperature, hygrometry, humidity on the leaves, and relative humidity. Alphonse Mellot was the first to introduce these techniques here . The only other Domaine where it was set up before in France is Chateau Yquem .
The Domaine de la Moussière consists in 47 hectares , of which 9 hectares with Pinot Noir . The rest is made-up of Sauvignon Blanc . 35 hectares all in one piece, south of Sancerre : "La Moussière" .
Organic viticulture requires a great amount of supervision , plot by plot . He also check the acarians and other factors that contribute to the vineyard's health. Some in the staff do some supervision. External supervision is done by a viticulture engineer who proceeds to a permanent audit of the vineyard along the year. This is a long & tedious work that has to be maintained to bring quality. Since 1983 , new plantations are made at 10 000/hectare. It helps the vines into producing tartaric acid. This is the very element that makes the plant breathe . Working on the ground (plowing) is effective to force the roots go deeper .
__1__ Sancerre Domaine de la Moussière 2003 . This white is a classical cuvée . Nice acidity . Some citrus . Young vines . Bottled 5/6 days ago . 60% new casks . Doesnt taste like new casks . On the fruit . [ picture on the lower left shows a 150 L "cigare" cask , a size initiated by A. Mellot and several producers ]
__2__ Sancerre Domaine de la Moussiére Generation 2003 . Alphonse Mellot pours in our glasses from a cask . Production : 10 000 bottles .
__3__ Sancerre Domaine de la Moussiére "Cuvée Edmond" 2003 , from a vat . This white is named from Alphonse's father (First name : Edmond Alphonse) . Different colour . Stainless vats . Acidity . This year , short stay in casks (because of malolactic fermentation risk) . Went to stainless vats after short stay in wood casks .
__4__ Sancerre Domaine de la Moussiére "Generation" 2001 . From a bottle . Very nice nose . Floral . Wonderful wine indeed .
__5__ Sancerre Domaine de la Moussiére "Edmond" 2001 . Bottled last march . 100% casks of wich 70% new ones .
__6__ Sancerre Domaine de la Moussiére "Edmond" 2000 . About 15 months in casks . Aromatic complexity .
__7__ Sancerre red Domaine de la Moussiére 2001 Cuvée de base . Nose : Prune . On the fruit . Tannic . Young vines (4-20years old) . Yield : 27 hectoliters/hectare. In the Domaine , the oldest vines are 100 years old .
__8__ Sancerre red Domaine de la Moussiére "Les Demoiselles" 2003 . Don't spit here. Precious . Taken from a cask . Stays there till september . Will then go in vats and will be bottled at the end of the year .
At one point, all of us were briefly outside to better enjoy one of the wines, when a couple of german visitors passed by in their convertible in the narrow street along the cellar. Alphonse Mellot hailed them and gave them glasses so that they could experience the thing [picture on left]. Lots of laughs and a few minutes later, they were gone, thinking probably this was a good omen for their trip....
__9__ Sancerre red Domaine de la Moussiére "En Grands Champs" 2003 . B. knows this one and loves it . Very delicate . Costs between 33 and 45 a bottle . Sold on reservation only, in about 3 months . Our swedish friends are interested . [ Picture on the right shows a big " Cuve tronconique " ]
__10__ Sancerre red Domaine de la Moussiére "Generation XIX" 2003 . Liquerice . Little more yield in 2003 : 22hecto/ha instead of 20hecto/ha . Wine typical of the soil there . Then our host says : a last one as aperitif , before we go outside to eat something . But there will be unexpectedly more to come as surprises ...
__11__ Sancerre white Domaine de la Moussiére "Cuvée Edmond" . From a magnum . Old vines . Golden colour with lemon, yellow reflections ... Fantastic . Very mineral . Rare marl in Sancerre .
__12__ Another gift : Sauvignon (white) . 16 years in a cask in an oxydative cellar , a separate small cellar . From year 1988 . Tile colour . Not for sale . Something between the Jura "vin jaune" and the Xeres . Has been racked once in 16 years . Superb nose and colour . 17° natural . Not oxydized . Oxydoreduction . From late harvest grapes .
__13__ Same from 1989 . Tuilé colour too . Dark .
__14__ white . late harvest 1990 . Not for sale . Some fermentation . Degazed some 3 weeks ago . Tuilé . Truffle . 14° plus 8° potential . Superb .