Winemaker: Pierre-François Masson-Blondelet
Properties: 21 hectares of vineyards in the stony hills around the villages of Pouilly-sur-Loire & Sancerre. Their principle grape variety is Sauvignon Blanc La variedad principal es Sauvignon Blanc, although they also grow small quantities of Pinot Noir and the local grape called Chasselas.
Production: 150.000 bottles per year, of which 60% are exported
57 national medals & five times “Coups de coeurs” in the Guide Hachette. Listed consistently (since 1996) by Bettane & Desauve in Le Classement and by Gault Millau (since 1995) as one of the best producers in France. “What style! ... wines that beautifully represent their appellation”, Hachette Guide. Jacqueline Friedrich: "Highly Recommended" in her book The Wines of Loire.
The Loire valley is one of France’s most interesting and diverse viticultural regions. And while it is home to almost every type and style of wine imaginable, including dry reds, sweet whites and sparklers, it is perhaps best known for the dry and fresh, grassy whites made from its sauvignon blanc grape. Vineyards of this variety are mainly grown in and around the town of Pouilly-sur-Loire, where the famous appelations of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé are located. The terrain and soils of this area are quite diverse, with substanatial geological differences often appearing within the same vineyard or district. For this reason, producers have developed the practice of producing wines from individual plots, each intended to express the unique mineral composition of where it was grown…. such as chalk, flint or Kimmeridgian marl. It is not uncommon to find tiny producers that go to the trouble to produce three or four wines from seemingly similar grapes, all made from sauvignon blanc and all grown in the appellation of Pouilly Fumé or Sancerre. Domaine Masson-Blondlet, a family-run business in its 7th generation, is one such producer. Currently managed by Jean-Michel Masson and his wife Michelle, the domaine specializes in high-quality, dry sauvignon blanc from highly specific sites: they call their practice “winemaking by soil”. They have a classic European approach to winemaking… that is, they believe that fine wine is made in the vineyard and the winemaker can only take away from what the vineyard has produced. I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing a snip from their web summarizing their philosophy and vinification practice: “Our concept of vinification is to put physical processes before the chemical ones (albeit only slight), in order to minimize the use of SO2. For this reason we follow three principles: always take advantage of gravity, use refrigeration and maintain the carbon dioxide from fermentation. Our winery is built on three floors, two of which are below ground level. Our pneumatic press is located on the ground floor, while the clarification tanks are located one floor below. This allows the freshly pressed must to flow freely to the stainless steel deposit, without pumping, where it can be clarified by refrigeration. The clear must is then directed downwards, again without pumps, to the bottom floor where the fermentation tanks are located. Temperature control allows each batch to be vinified separately, to maintain each lot’s individuality. The wines are stabilized on their lees at below zero temperature for eight days. Our bottling facility is also located on the bottom floor, an ideal spot for both bottling and further ageing of the wines. Our goal is to produce highly personal wines and to employ to most correct human intervention, because we are responsible for the soul of each wine, from its beginnings in the vineyard to the final product in the bottle.”