Alphonse Mellot


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  Mellot wine-making goes back to the 1500s, the day of Henry VIII
The Gazette - Canada - 24/01/2004

1513 was the year the young King Henry VIII of England, he of six wives, decided to go to war with France to show the world that he was a real king and not to be trifled with. Off he set for Flanders where he laid siege to the towns of Tournai and Thérouanne, which enjoyed the protection of France, and captured them both.
Then came the Battle of the Spurs, another triumph because the French ran away.
All great stuff for England and Henry’s reputation at home and abroad but although, tall for his times at six feet, and enjoying an excellent reputation as a jouster, dueller and wrestler, he was less brave and much more circumspect on the field of battle. He tended to hang back and watch the action rather than get in there and break a few heads with his mean looking, heavily spiked metal Billy club.
The foray into Flanders was a pointless exercise because it just about broke the royal treasury and he gave both towns back to the French anyway a few years later.
Why do I even mention these events in France in the year 1513? To set the stage for the Mellot family because it was in that year that the company known today as SCEA Alphonse Mellot, of Sancerre in the Loire Valley, maker of this wine of the week, first saw the light of day. Winemaking has continued in a direct line from Mellot father to son from that time to this day.
Sancerre is a hilltop town on the western bank of the Loire River 150 kilometres due south of Paris. The river at this point is still running south to north but this is where it starts its sweep round to run from east to west through châteaux country, via Tours, Angers and Nantes, before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean at Saint-Nazaire. The town gives its name to the appellation that surrounds it, which is made up of about 1,500 hectares of vineyards.
Red wines are made in the Sancerre appellation from the pinot noir grape. In fact, one of the most enjoyable pinot noirs that I have ever tasted was produced by Alphonse Mellot. But the main grape in Sancerre is the white sauvignon blanc which, strangely enough, has only been grown there since the mid 20th century. It is here that the wines give the purest expression of the variety. The wines are bone dry and have a refreshing acidity that makes them perfect for matching with food. They are the benchmark for sauvignon blanc wines around the world.
This Domaine La Moussière has a faint lemon nose but on the palate shows the crisp, clean lemon-lime fruit and the zippy acidity for which the wines are justly famous. The flavours last well on the finish and the wine ends with just a touch of minerality. The wines of Sancerre are not usually for keeping but should be drunk in the first two to three years of their life.
Here are some interesting food matches as suggested by the producer: Brandade of salt cod; egg plant grilled in olive oil and garlic; salmon tartar with avocado and chives; sea bass with fennel; salmon with sorrel and braised tuna with tomato.

By Malcom Anderson


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