Terroirs and grape varieties
The Loire Valley is the third largest wine-growing region in France. Designated a UNESCO world heritage site from Chalonnes-sur-Loire by the Atlantic coast to Sully-sur-Loire in the Centre, the Loire Valley offers exceptional land for viticulture and is a textbook example of a region with diverse terroirs. Seventy four appellations make up the mosaic of Loire Valley wines from Nantes to Sancerre, most of which are situated along the River Loire. Domain Joseph Mellot, producing wines in Sancerre since 1513, offers 6 different appellations from its 100 hectares of vineyards in the Central Loire Valley.
The character of these wines develops more rapidly when the grapes are grown in limestone soils. Marls and siliceous clay formations produce wines that take longer to fully express themselves but that boast longer ageing potential (usually from 2 to 5 years, and exceptionally up to 10 years or more). The palette of aromas in Sauvignon Blanc wines is particularly diverse and can be very complex with surprising aromas such as gunflint. Fruity aromas, (blackcurrant, passion fruit, lychee, orange, grapefruit, guava), floral hints (iris, elderflower, rose, acacia, linden), vegetal notes (boxwood, broom, rhubarb, asparagus) and others such as musk and roasted meat are also present. 70% of the Central vineyards of the Loire Valley are planted with Sauvignon blanc vines, representing 75% of wine production.
The Pinot Noir grape variety was documented in Burgundy at the end of the 14th century, but it certainly dates back further. Pinot Noir juice is colourless. During the fermentation proces, the skin (containing pigments) macerates in the grape juice which then takes on a beautiful cherry red colour, flecked with violet. Due to the relative fragility of the Pinot Noir grape, for all of its finesse and aromatic richness to be expressed, it requires particular growing conditions, including a climate that is neither too hot nor too cold and well-drained soil (particularly limestone). The Pinot Noir’s typical aromas include wild cherry, violet and fine wood when young; preserved cherries, game and truffles when mature. Pinot Noir has been cultivated in the Central vineyards of the Loire Valley for a very long time and today represents 20% of the region’s vines. It is the only red grape variety used in the wines of Sancerre, Menetou-Salon and Reuilly and is blended with Gamay in Châteaumeillant and the Coteaux du Giennois.