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Sancerre Who? We're Drinking Pellé's Single Vineyard Menetou-Salon


Every once in a while a winemaker comes out of a region no one cares that much about, and makes wines so good that we have to reconsider the merits of the region itself.

We wrote about this phenomenon last week in our story on François Chidaine, who for decades has been turning out some of the Loire’s finest wines from Montlouis-sur-Loire, an appellation once considered deeply inferior to its neighbor Vouvray.

Pellé’s home appellation is overshadowed by a much more famous neighbor. In this case, that neighbor is Sancerre, one of the most ubiquitous names in the wine world. Like Sancerre, Menetou-Salon is endowed with great terroir, and they share the same venerated soils: kimmeridgian marl, limestone and flint.

But even though the region’s terroir is very similar and just as compelling, it’s an uphill climb to get wine drinkers to notice next-door Menetou-Salon, which is not only more obscure, but also much smaller – nearly ten times so.

Somehow, though, we sell as much Pellé as any Sancerre producer in the shop. The wines, with their polish, concentration, and deep minerality, are simply too good. Slowly, vintage by vintage, they’re putting Menetou-Salon on the map.

Today we are offering the domaine’s top single-vineyard cuvées, which remain shockingly affordable. They all come from Morogues, the Menetou village with the best terroirs. But each has a distinct personality.
If you want fruit dialed back in favor of smoke, salt, and rocks, drink the flinty "Les Carroirs". Prefer more richness, but with stony shoulders and a seam of oyster shell? Go for the Kimmeridgian limestone site "Vignes de Ratier".

If that sounds good, but you want it turned up to eleven, the answer is the old-vines "Blanchais", which is mostly Kimmeridgian in origin but the vineyard has a little flint as well. It tastes of lemon curd, peach, salt, and seasell – almost like a 1er cru Chablis – and it’s substantial enough to improve with cellaring.

These are all 2019s, which is turning out to be a really nice vintage for the Central Vineyards region (Sancerre, Menetou-Salon, Pouilly-Fumé, etc.) of the Loire Valley. There’s great freshness and balance, and maybe a little less of the herbal Sauvignon Blanc thing. It’s a great vintage to get acquainted with these wines:

Pelle, Menetou-Salon Morogues Blanchais, 2019

Pelle, Menetou-Salon Morogues Le Carroir, 2019

Pelle, Menetou-Salon Morogues Vignes De Ratier, 2019