Once regarded as the Loire Valley’s most off-the-beaten path appellation, Menetou-Salon has gained a fair amount of recognition thanks to Domaine Henry Pellé, which accounts for 25% of the AOC’s entire production. Morogues, the chief village of Menetou-Salon, shares the same Kimmeridgian limestone soils as its more famous neighbor, Sancerre, but at a fraction of the price. While the family business started as a hobby at the beginning of the 20th century, today Domaine Henry Pellé is the benchmark producer by which all others in the AOC are judged. Henry Pellé was the first to bottle the family wines under the Pellé label, built a new cellar in 1970, and slowly increased the holdings. In 1980, Henry was joined by his son, Éric, and the two were avid students of their terroirs. When a tragic accident claimed the life of Éric in 1995, Henry and Éric’s widow, Anne, called in former intern Julien Zernott for assistance. Julien has since been an instrumental mentor to Anne and Éric’s son, Paul-Henry, who bottled his first vintage for the domaine in 2007.
The Pellés farm 40 hectares of vineyards, planted to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, without herbicides or pesticides. They plow regularly to aerate the soils and drive the roots deeper, and they nourish the vines with natural composts. De-budding limits yields, which lends richness and complexity to the wines. Once harvested, the grapes are sorted and pressed slowly and gently. The must is fermented on native yeasts in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. The whites and reds are often aged on the lees and the cuvees are divided between tanks and barrels respectively to age for up to 12 months. Their introductory bottling of the white village “Morogues” is mineral-laden and fine—an overachiever for its class. Their two lieux-dits, Vignes du Ratier and Clos des Blanchais, offer up more complex expressions of Sauvignon Blanc in the Morogues terroir. Their red, single vineyard bottling from Les Cris showcases the classic aromatics of fine Pinot Noir with high-toned cherry fruit and earthy notes and is aged in 1- to 2-year-old Burgundy barrels. All the whites age on their lees in stainless steel. The Pellés have done more than most local wineries in highlighting the potential of the appellation and the incredible values these wines present for the pedigree of the soil.
For more information, please see: www.henry-pelle.com