Alphonse Mellot: Pure Sauvignon Brilliance

“Alphonse Mellot’s white Sancerres are amongst the most brilliant and pure illustrations of the genius of the Sauvignon grape”

– The World’s Greatest Wines, Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve

Sauvignon Blanc grapes
Sauvignon Blanc grapes

Not only are the wines from Alphonse Mellot considered to be some of the most outstanding Pinot Noirs and Sauvignon Blancs in the world, but the Mellot family itself must surely be one of the longest running winemaking dynasties that ever existed.

Situated in Sancerre, the stunning hilltop town bordering the River Loire in the Loire Valley, historic records mention the Mellot family in connection to wine production as far back as 1513. This winemaking family and business has survived medieval sieges, the French Revolution, phylloxera, two world wars and the enormous rise in international popularity of New World Sauvignon Blancs.

That is quite an achievement highlighting the resilience, forward-thinking and passion of this family.  It also shows they must produce something very special.

So what is it exactly that makes Alphonse Mellot so special?

Alphonse Mellot’s highly revered wines come from La Domaine de la Moussiere, which is a single vineyard of over thirty hectares, situated on the South-West upper slopes of the Sancerre hill. This premium location ensures the vineyard gets optimum exposure to the sunshine, vital in this cool climate region, as well as sitting on the perfect limestone rich soils. The vineyard includes some very old vines, some close to 90 years old, which contributes to the complexity and heritage of the wines.

Sancerre, Loire Valley
Sancerre, Loire Valley

The family’s success and recognition grew over the years and in 1698 Cesar Mellot became the Wine Advisor to King Louis XIV. During the 19th century Alphonse Mellot established a tavern where people could relax and enjoy his local wines and the business flourished. Subsequently he was awarded a permit to ship the wines throughout France and internationally, thus launching their reputation for high quality wines around the world. The eldest son of the next generation has since always been called Alphonse Mellot and as the tradition continues the company is currently headed up by the 19th generation Alphonse Mellot.

The family now focuses on premium Sancerre Blanc made from Sauvignon Blanc and Sancerre Rouge and Rosé produced from Pinot Noir. Alphonse Mellot follows biodynamic philosophies and an intense planting programme (8-10,000 vines per hectare) which produces low yields. Tending to the vines and harvesting is completely by hand, which is increasingly rare in this region. It’s tough work for the team of around 40 they employ, however, the result is grapes of outstanding quality which have perfect balance and optimum flavours. The winery itself has the latest technology as the Mellots seek to continuously produce some of the world’s greatest wines.

The Pinot Noirs undergo malolactic fermentation and spend around fourteen months in oak. The Sauvignon Blancs are often left to age on lees for 10-12 months, adding further depth and complexity to the wines.

Of course the Sauvignon Blancs display the wonderful racy acidity associated with this cool climate region along with the unique minerality from the chalky soils. The wines also offer tantalising citrus notes and delicate pear flavours. They have great texture and elegance.

Sauvignon Blanc has not always been the traditional white grape varietal of Sancerre. Pre-phylloxera, that is up until the 1860s, the region was primarily planted with red varieties – Pinot Noir and Gamay – and the primary white varietal was Chasselas. However, once grafting was required post phylloxera, it was Sauvignon Blanc which adapted the most readily for the whites and became the grape that brought fame and fortune to the Sancerre region. As mentioned above, Pinot Noir continues to grow and is also a focus for Alphonse Mellot. It is interesting to note that being so far West in Central France, Sancerre is actually closer to Burgundy than it is to some of the other regions of the Loire Valley. It is just 75 kilometres to Chablis, in fact, and therefore also sits on the same chalky limestone Kimmeridgean soils, along with marl and flinty subsoils.

Sauvignon Blanc grapes
Sauvignon Blanc grapes

So to answer our original question – the wines from Alphonse Mellot are special due to their prime location in Sancerre and their incredibly long family connection with the region. They understand the terroir and combine traditions such as working by hand and with the land, with modern technology where beneficial. The Mellots have always looked forward, adapted where necessary but stood by their ethos of continuing to strive generation after generation for perfection.

Dhall and Nash are delighted to offer you Alphonse Mellot La Moussiere Sancerre Blanc 2016, which according to Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast will have now evolved to be tasting its absolute best. He awarded this wine 91 points and says:

“The wine is sophisticated. It has a strong mineral texture and fine ripe citrus and pear fruits shot through with acidity. With its finishing fruitiness, this is already an attractive wine, although it will be better from 2018.”


2016 Alphonse Mellot La Moussiere Sancerre Blanc2016 Alphonse Mellot La Moussiere Sancerre Blanc
“The wine is sophisticated. It has a strong mineral texture and fine ripe citrus and pear fruits shot through with acidity. With its finishing fruitiness, this is already an attractive wine, although it will be better from 2018.”
Wine Enthusiast (91 points)