ALPHONSE MELLOT 'DOMAINE DE LA MOUSSIERE' SANCERRE 2010
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Wine is being produced throughout France and has been done for over 2,500 years with certain Châteaux dating their history back to Roman times, around 6th Century BC. Ranking second in the world in per-capita consumption and first in total production quantity. More so than the overall quantity of wine is the quantity of truly great wines coming out of France makes the nation the envy of wine-making nations worldwide.
Two concepts pivotal to the higher end French wines, in particular, are the idea of 'terroir' and the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system. Terroir refers to the way the geography, geology and climate find their way into the glass, telling a story of the origin of the wine. The AOC was set up in 1935 and has the primary goal of protecting the authenticity of the wines and the livelihoods of the producers. Appellation rules strictly define which varieties of grapes and winemaking practices are approved for classification in each of France's several hundred geographically defined appellations, which can cover entire regions, individual villages or in some cases, like in Burgundy even specific vineyards.
Classic wine regions in France include Champagne (home of Champagne), Burgundy (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot), Alsace (Aromatic varietals), Loire Valley (Chenin Blanc, Crémant) and the Rhône Valley (Syrah, Grenache Mourvedre)
The Bordeaux classification of 1855 is still in use, as is the Sauternes and Barsac Classification of the same year. Wines from certain regions can be bought En Primeur, which is when the wine is sold prior to it being bottled.
The Loire Valley wine region lies between the center and the northwest of France, along the Loire river. It is home to some of France's most well-known wines, notably, Sancerre, Muscadet, Vouvray and Pouilly-Fume.
The majority of output from Loire production is white wine, from grape varieties such as Sauvignon blanc, Chenin Blanc and Melon de Bourgogne grapes. There are in total 87 appellations in Loire, stretching from the Atlantic coast and heading inland near the city of Orléans. The region is commonly divided in to three subregions. The upper Loire is predominantly Sauvignon Blanc and includes the areas of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Middle Loire is mostly under Chenin Blanc (and some Cabernet Franc) and includes villages of Touraine, Saumur, Chinon and Vouvray. Lastly in the lower Loire, to the west the Melon de Bourgogne grape variety thrives in the Muscadet region and is the most widely planted grape in the Loire.
Producers to seek out and try include: Henri Bourgeois, Mark Bredif, Domaine Bernard Fleuriet, Vincent Pinard, Eric Bordelet and Gerard Boulay.
This AOC in central France lies primarily on the rolling hills on the west bank of the Loire, opposite Pouilly-Fumé. Using the Sauvignon Blanc grape, producers in the region are known for producing crisp, aromatic whites.
Known as the Loire Valley's 'King of the Hill', the Sancerre viticultural region was created in 1936. It has a famously temperate continental climate, and there are three primary soil types in the region: chalk, limestone-gravel and flint.
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