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Just east of the town of Menetou-Salon, and just southwest of Sancerre, is the sleepy village of Morogues with its great terroirs of Kimmeridgian limestone and silex. Here we find Domaine Pellé, known as one of the regions finest producers of white Menetou-Salon from Sauvignon Blanc, and red Menetou-Salon from 100% Pinot Noir.
Domaine Pellé is a fourth generation family estate run by the talented and hard-working Paul-Henry Pellé. Paul-Henry's grandfather played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Menetou-Salon appellation, and lobbied hard to inlcude "Morogues" on the label. As Paul-Henry explained, “Morogues is comprised of 90% Kimmeridgian limestone. This is why my grandfather pushed so hard to give it the status it deserved”. This limestone is the same soil type that makes up the great terroirs of Chablis, Chavignol, and parts of the Aube in Champagne. Whether with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, or Pinot Noir, it helps to create complex, elegant, mineral-laden wines that can age well too. The estate farms with organic methods, though not certified. "The soil, accordingly, must be full of life, and our work is therefore respectful of the vineyard’s biodiversity. We do not use weed killers or pesticides and the soils are ploughed throughout the estate - winter ploughing and hoeing during the growing season."
Wine prouction in the region goes back 1,500 years and its fame was due to superb red wines from Pinot Noir planted by monks in the 12th century. It was only after phylloxera destroyed the vineyards in the late 1800s that Sauvignon Blanc became the dominant variety, but in fact the kimmeridgian and silex terroirs produce beautifully vibrant Pinot Noirs that deserve to be better known. The 2018 Pelle Menetou-Salon Morogues Rouge is produced from Pinot Noir grown on Kimmeridgian marl and Portlandian limestone soils with silex. The grapes are mostly de-stemmed and are fed by gravity into wooden vats for a 3 to 4 week fermentaion with indigenous yeasts; the wine ages in large barrels, none new. Hailing from the warm 2018 vintage, this is not your typical Loire Pinot Noir. The wine is extremely elegant, ripe, mineral - laden and definitely age worthy - capable of giving Burgundy, let alone Sancerre, a serious run for the money!
Saturday Special - Take 10% off on a 6 bottle purchase of 2018 Pellé Menetou-Salon Rouge!
Speaking of Sauvignon Blanc, two of the Pellé single vineyard Menetou-Salon whites will arrive in about a week - only 12 bottles of each are available; the 2020 "Les Blanchais" grown on Kimmeridgian marl, and the 2020 "Carroir" from 50 year-old massale selctioin vines on silex soils. Please, 3 btl maximum on these rare and beatiful wines.
The devastating frost of 2021 and low yields in 2020 have severely limited shipments of Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc, so we're very happy that the 2020 Menetou-Salon Blanc from Philippe Gilbert should arrive next week. Philippe returned to the family domain after a career in theatre and promptly converted to organic and biodynamic farming, certified since 2007. The wine is grown entirely on Kimmeridgian marl soils, it's hand-harvested and ferments with indigenous yeasts, then spends 14 months on the lees before bottling. The biodynamic farming is quite evident in the wine which always shows excellent ripeness combined with pronounced mineral flavors and bright citrus and white fruits with firm acidity.
2018 Pellé Rouge arrives Tuesday 6/7. Pellé and Gilbert whites arrive (hopefully) by Friday 6/10.
From Sancerre's " little sister next door" appellation Menetou-Salon, the Morogues shows just how lovely Loire Pinot Noir can be. Hailing from 3 different vineyard sites in hilly Morogues endowed with the famous Kimmeridgian limestone that Chablis and Chavignol in Sancerre are reknowned for. The Pelles were instrumental in pushing for Morogues and Mentou to get the status it deserved after the appellation's creation in 1959. Once great grandson Paul Henry took over in 2007, he immediately converted to organic viticulture, a rarity in the region. The wine jumps out of the glass with aromas of blackberries, raspberries, black cherry and chalky minerality, while the palate is redolent of berries,forest floor, soft dusty tannins underscored by a vein of bright acidity and that chalky minerality. Hailing from the warm 2018 vintage, this is not your typical thin Loire Pinot Noir, Extremely elegant, ripe, mineral - laden and definitely age worthy; capable of giving Burgundy , let alone Sancerre, a serious run for the money! Giselle Hamburg
(Pre-Arrival, due 6/10) The 2020 "Carroir" is from a small parcel of massale selection Sauvignon Blanc planted in 1976 on silex soils in Morogues. More austere than the Kimmeridgian based wines, "Carroir" is lacy and delicate yet powerful as well and built to age, best probably 2025 - 2030.
(Pre-Arrival, due 6/10) The Pellé Menetou-Salon "Les Blanchais" is from a single vineyard of massale selection vines planted in 1966. The soils are clay and silex over Kimmeridgian limestone as in Chablis and in the commune of Chavignol in Sancerre. Like the best wines of Chavignol, the "Les Blanchais" is vibrant and delicious as a young wine and will develop beautifully in the cellar for ten years or more. As someone who’s mostly ambivalent about Sauvignon Blanc as a grape variety, I somehow find plenty of exceptions to the rule. White Bordeaux? Love it. Bright, if textured, examples from Collio, had some real good ones. Chavignol and Reuilly? I’m listening. Saint-Bris? Bring it on. So it should be no surprise that I find myself not only convinced, but charmed by the various beautiful bottlings of Menetou-Salon from Domaine Pellé in Kimmeridgian-rich Morogues. Paul-Henry Pellé farms the vines organically ferments the wines with native yeast and in the case of the parcellaires, élévage is a combination of barrels, foudre, and tank. The wines display a deft balance of ripeness, soil signature, and vivacity. And though they are delicious young, a bottle squirreled away for a few years will delight as the gorgeous fruit knits with the undercurrent of chalky minerality within. The 2020 Blanchais is brimming with energy and vibrant stone fruit character with a tangy succulence to the finish that beckons for the next sip. There are stone fruit and melon notes framed by lime zest brightness and a salty undercurrent acting as a foil lending balance and drive on a long and rising finish. The balance here is notable, as is the nose which plays up the white fruit and muskmelon aromas with enough limestone soil signature to place this in Morogues. Fabulous with a butter lettuce salad with smoked salmon with chives and dill and a mustardy crème fraîche vinaigrette, better still with pan-roasted pencil asparagus with brown butter and lemon zest. Though a flounder fillet stuffed with crabmeat and a lemon beurre blanc seems an intriguing possibility. Open this a bit in advance and this will delight. Cellar for 3-5 years and I imagine this will shine. John McIlwain
(Pre-Arrival, due on 6/10) Philippe Gilbert makes beatiful wines in Menetou-Salon, which abuts Sancerre, including lovely rosé and red from Pinot Noir and superb Menetou-Salon blanc from Sauvignon Blanc, certified Biodynamic by Demeter. The living soils are evident in this lovely wine, showing elegant aromas of pear, fig, citrus peel, lime flower, anise and stone. The palate is very mineral with firm chalky acidity unerlying pear, almond, citrus, stone and herbal flavors. The wine shows extra richness and complexity due to the 14 month sur-lie aging. This is a great pairing with any mild fish preparation and goat cheeses and it's far superior to most Sancerres in this price range.