2002 Domaine Henri Pelle, “Clos des Blanchais,” Menetou-Salon (Loire), France

I only recently learned of the small Loire Valley appellation known as Menetou-Salon which sits nearby to its more famous sister Sancerre.

Widely regarded as the best producer in the appellation, Domaine Henry Pelle was also one of the first, at least in modern winemaking history. A classic, family-run operation of 15 people, Pelle has been operating for over three generations in the Menetou-Salon, well before it was granted appellation status in 1959.

The Domaine has 75 organically farmed acres in and around the tiny town of Menetou-Salon. 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.

Cellar master Julien Zernott 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 premiere bottling from a single vineyard known as Clos des Blanchais.

Tasting Notes:
Light gold with a tinge of green in the glass this wine has a steely nose of paraffin, crushed limestone, and lime zest. In the mouth it is bright with acidity, with primary flavors of minerals and mixed citrus zest, and a nice mouthfeel that carries through to a clean and refreshing finish.

Food Pairing:
This wine cries out for oysters and other fresh seafoods. I recently paired it at a wine dinner with a light crab soup with fresh crab, oysters, and sea urchin.

Overall Score: 9

How Much?: $24

This wine is somewhat scarce, but can be found online.