Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France


Joseph Mellot – a tour of the central vineyards

This branch of the Mellot family has a very good restaurant on the main square of the attractive town of Sancerre – while the Alphonse branch of the clan has a shop around the corner.  Joseph Mellot has a traceable history back to 1513, though of course, it was then a mixed concern with goats, cows, vines and mixed agriculture.  As in the area as a whole, at the end of the nineteenth-century grape growers suffered the double disaster of phylloxera and the disappearance of the legal trade of providing grapes for Champagne producers.  As a result, while Pinot Noir had been the dominant grape, an alternative product was needed and the producers hit on the then fashionable dry white wine in a Bordeaux style, and hence the planting of Sauvignon Blanc. The rest, as they say, is history with the central vineyards producing a distinctive style of Sauvignon Blanc which went on to conquer the restaurants of the western world.  Mellot now has 80% in white and 20% Pinot Noir.

While producing the classical wines from the two well-known appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, Joseph Mellot’s additional point of interest is its offer of wine from all the appellations of the central vineyards.  So if you want to compare Sancerre with Pouilly Fumé, Menetou-Salon, Quincy, Reuilly and the wider area which makes up Vin de Pays du Val de Loire, this is the place to come. They also sell selected wines from the central Loire.  It was only later that I noticed that they had Chasselas on offer, an opportunity to try the old and normally very ordinary grape variety grown in the region for jug wine.

We had a splendid lunch at the restaurant with very good wines.  The wines don’t get quite the attention they deserve in this setting but most of us can live with this!

SancerreSancerre Blanc Le Grand Chatelaine 2007 – one third fermented in wood, the rest in stainless steel produces a pretty rich palate, mild oakiness, lime fruit and good length

Sancerre Blanc Cuvée Pierre Etienne 2003 – a sharp frost and then heat led to a small but super-ripe crop.  Rounded, fruit now less evident, decent length, perhaps over-ripe

Sancerre La Gravelière 2009 – young and fruity Sauvignon Blanc with the cheese course (no mercy shown! no meal is complete without the famous goats’ cheese; the goats are apparently large, brown and in barns), very poised, good value too at less than €10

Quincy AC Clos de la Victoire Jean-Michel Sorbe 2008 – now run by Mellot who kept the name of the former producer, this was of medium intensity, a good floral nose and lighter on the palate

Sancerre Blanc Le Vignes du Rocher 2008 – grapefruit and mineral nose, a powerful wine from old vineyards, carefully handpicked and sorted, very good


Sancerre Le Connétable 2007 – Pinot Noir aged in a mixture of old and new oak for 9 months, low in tannin, some good red fruit, drink young

Reuilly AC Les Milets 2008 – an outlying village of the central vineyards and not to be confused with Rully in Burgundy!  On Kimmeridgean marl producing a good Pinot with more grip, nice perfume and good red fruit with cloves from the wood. Extremely good value at €6.90.

Many thanks to the Mellot family and keep up the good work!

Janet and David

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