Widely regarded as the best producer in the small appellation of Menetou-Salon in the Loire Valley of France, Domaine Henry Pelle was also one of the first. A classic family run operation of 15 people, Pelle has been operating for over three generations in the Menetou-Salon since before it was granted appellation status in 1959.
The Domaine has 75 organically farmed acres in and around the tiny town of Menetou-Salon, close to the heart of the valley and the heart of Loire Sauvignon Blanc: Sancerre. Here, the soil is incredibly calciferous, made up of millions of fossilized oyster shells from the ancient shallow sea that once covered France. This soil gives rise to the brilliant crisp flavors of the region's white grapes and in particular Sauvignon Blancs like this one.
Domaine Pelle cellar master Julien Zernott ages gravity presses all of his white wines, ferments them naturally with yeasts from the vineyard, and ages them "on the lees" (with all the grape pulp and seeds mixed in).
Pelle makes several Sauvignon Blancs at various price points. This is his lower-end wine which rather than being from a single estate vineyard source is a blend of grapes from around the area.
This wine is a light green gold in the glass and smells of celery, unripe apples and blackboard chalk. In the mouth it has a light, pleasant spritz to it at first with a slight hint of the characteristic flavors of Sauvignon Blanc (cat urine and gooseberries) but after that its all holy-happy-hour lime margarita time, with intense green citrus zest and a finish that has a slightly bitter but not unpleasant note of minerality.
This was a perfect pairing for an appetizer of oysters on the half shell, followed by a steaming pot of spicy mussels in white wine broth.Overall Score: 9
How Much?: $15
Might be tough to find, but try the closest retailer that usually has lots of French imports. The only place I found it online in the US was WineAccess.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Vinography Unboxed: Week of June 28, 2015 Brand vs. Terroir in Wine I'll Drink to That: Andrea Fassone of Enotria Wine Imports Vinography Images: Independence Vineyard Warm Up: The Italian Influence in California I'll Drink to That: Megan Glaab of Ryme Cellars Listen Up!! I'll Drink to That on Vinography A First Taste of Idaho Wine Tasting Integrity: 25 Years of Corison Napa Cabernet Vinography Unboxed: Week of June 21, 2015
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune