Bué, Sancerre, Loire Valley, France
Thierry and Sophie Merlin-Cherrier own 13 hectares of prime location Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in the village of Bué, one of the principle hamlets surrounding the old walled town of Sancerre. The soils here, caillottes and terres blanches (or Kimmeridgian Marl), deliver pointedly fruity, rich, and long-lived wines. In addition, Thierry has just under a hectare of vines in the great vineyard of le Chêne Marchand, purchased in 1999. Chêne Marchand is one of the crown jewel vineyards of Sancerre and is the appellation’s outstanding example of Caillottes terroir. If ever Sancerre were to classify its vineyards, Chêne would be a certain candidate for grand cru status. The vineyard grows on the western plateau above Bué where Thierry has two parcels, totaling only 0.84 hectare.
Thierry, a fourth-generation winemaker who made his first vintage in 1982, maintains age-old traditional practices; plowing and hoeing are standard here, as is careful pruning. The vineyards are lutte raisonée.
Merlin-Cherrier Sancerre Blanc 2017
The classique wine from this producer reflects Bué’s chalky terroir beautifully with its paradoxical generous precision (concentrated elegance might be a better way of saying this). This is a blend of parcels from both soil types totaling 11.16 hectares (27.5 acres).
Review of 2016 vintage: "Thierry Merlin farms fourteen hectares of vines, with twelve of these planted to sauvignon blanc and two to pinot noir. Virtually everything is in the commune of Bué, with the exception of a couple of parcels in Sancerre proper or in the less well-known village of Veaugues. Of his twelve hectares of sauvignon, he has just under one hectare in the great Bué vineyard of le Chêne Marchand. His regular Sancerre from 2016 is lovely, offering up a classic Bué bouquet of gooseberry, lime, a touch of beeswax, chalky minerality, fresh-mown grass and a touch of candied citrus peel in the upper register. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied and zesty, with a fine core, truly lovely mineral drive, bright acids and a long, complex and utterly classic finish. Fine juice. 2018-2025+. 91." - John Gilman, A View From The Cellar, October, 2018 #77
Merlin-Cherrier Sancerre Le Chêne Marchand 2015
Le Chêne Marchand is a single, gentle, south-facing site situated between Bué and Crézancy and is recognized as one of the potential ‘Grand Cru’ vineyards of the appellation. The wines from Thierry’s two parcels are co-fermented and aged on their lees in a single concrete tank for between 15 and 18 months. It is bottled without cold stabilization (the wine can throw tartaric crystals—and would that more wine did as this is a sign of quality) and with a light filtration. It’s an immensely elegant, long, and mineral Sancerre.
"The 2015 Sancerre “le Chêne Marchand” from Thierry Merlin is a lovely wine, with the vineyard’s signature les caillottes chalkiness front and center in the wine. The bouquet is nascently complex and very refined, wafting from the glass in a mix of lime, green apple, just a touch of candied citrus peel, nuanced limestone minerality, very discreet grassiness and a floral topnote redolent of iris blossoms. On the palate the wine is pure, full and tightly-knit, with a good core, superb mineral drive for the vintage, bright acids and fine length and grip on the nascently complex and quite elegant finish. In the hot summer of 2015, it had to be quite difficult to retain this type of elegance and girdle of acidity in the finished wine! This could do with a few years in the cellar to properly blossom and will be excellent. 2020-2035. 93." - John Gilman, A View From The Cellar, October, 2018 #77
"Some like their Sancerre lean and mean, as in 2014, and some like riper, plusher vintages such as 2015. I'm almost always in the former camp...until a wine like this comes along. It is really more melony than citrusy, and I have my doubts that I would even identify it as Sancerre if tasting it blind on a day when I wasn't at my best, but damn...it is delicious. Really a medium-bodied wine, this is ripe and fruity on the nose and quite broad on first palate impression, though the acidity and minerality then start to gain traction and pull even in the finish. A wine that is both opulent and engaging, this is not to be missed."
93 Points Michael Franz Wine Reviews Online Aug 22, 2017 - winereviewonline.com