Matthias & Emile Roblin, Sancerre (Maimbray)

Domaine Matthias & Emile Roblin_label

Country & RegionFrance, Loire Valley
ProducerMatthias & Emile Roblin

Matthias Roblin’s first commercial vintage was 2000 and of that debut the English magazine Decanter wrote: “Searing concentration of lime and elderflower fruit with refreshing acids. Long and even with a steely mineral character. Fine.” The magazine went on to select Matthias’ 2003 Sancerre as the best white table wine to come out of the Loire in 2005 (World Wine Awards, October, 2005). Given the torrid heat of that endless summer, one in which making a fresh wine was all but impossible, this was quite the honor. Decanter then profiled Matthias in its September 2006 issue, naming him among five new faces to watch in the Sancerre appellation.

Domaine Matthias & Emile Roblin Vineyards

In 2006 his younger brother Emile joined him (that’s Emile leading the way in the photo above), and now these two manage the affairs at Domaine Matthias & Emile Robin with the aid of their father. Dad is officially retired, having made wine under the name of Château de Maimbray with his own brother most of his professional life until 2010, but he still lends a hand.

Domaine Matthias & Emile Roblin Vineyards and parents

Matthias and Emile’s vines grow on the hillsides of Maimbray and Sury-en-Vaux in the northern sector of Sancerre. This zone is known for its terres blanches, a.k.a., Kimmeridgian Marls—white soils made of clay and marl and stones on top of Kimmeridgian limestone, and make for pointed, powerful wines that need a couple of years in bottle to show best (and indeed have the potential to age surprisingly well, but almost never are permitted to do so). The brothers have 16 hectares (nearly 40 acres) in Sauvignon Blanc and 3 (just over seven acres) in Pinot Noir. Production averages 12,750 cases.

For years now the brothers have been plowing profits back into the winery to update equipment and to create a winery in which their wine is now moved by gravity. They’ve also been steadily tweaking their methods of élevage, investing in wood uprights for fermentations and aging, along with 600-liter demi-muids, and extending the aging process. In the vineyards, they’re every bit as proactive–as in 2018, when the harvest took place during a stunning Indian summer with rather warm afternoons so the boys started each morning harvesting at 4 am and stopped at noon.

Domaine Matthias and Emile Roblin Les Ammonites

The Wines

Sancerre blanc Origine
Sauvignon blancThis, their classic bottling, stays on its lees until January or February after the harvest, and is bottled roundabout May after a light fining and filtration. Some 80+% of the vines for this wine grow in Kimmeridgian; the remainder in Portlandian limestone (which has less clay than Kimmeridgian but more than Oxfordian). The annual production averages 5,800 cases.
Sancerre blanc Les AmmonitesSauvignon blancLes Ammonites is the brothers' top cuvée, coming from their best parcels of Terres Blanches, where shellfish fossils such as Ammonites are commonly found. This wine is normally not yeasted, but this depends on the year and on the vat or barrel. In recent vintages, wood has been carefully introduced a little at a time. The results have encouraged Matthias and Emile to go further with wood for aging.

--Ammonites 2014: raised 20% in barrels and 80% in steel.
--Ammonites 2015: 25% / 75%
--Ammonites 2016: 100% in 600-liter barrels for twelve months, then racked into steel with its fine lees for another six months.
--Ammonites 2017: same as the 2016 but now all of the 600L demi-muids are older. This will be the regime going forward.

The cuvée is never fined or cold stabilized, and frequently not filtered (depends on vintage and vat). Production is between 400 and 800 12-pk cases.
Sancerre rouge OriginePinot NoirPinot Noir that normally ferments spontaneously and in warmer years made with a percentage of whole clusters (one third or more). This is aged in a large upright oak vat and any surplus is aged in demi-muid. Annual production averages 750 cases.
Sancerre rosé Origine
Pinot NoirTank fermented Pinot Noir rosé. Excellent Pinot fruit in a brisk, straight and long northern profile. Annual production averages 400 cases.