Domaine 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.

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 or 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 14 hectares (35 acres) in Sauvignon Blanc and 2.5 (6 acres) in Pinot Noir.

Matthias and Emile Roblin have been steadily upgrading their cellar and now are able to work with gravity to move their wine during the fermentation process.

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 blancThis is the top white, coming from their best parcels of Terres Blanches, where shellfish fossils, such as Ammonites, are often found. Les Ammonites is normally not yeasted, but this depends on the vintage and on the vat or barrel. In recent vintages, the brothers have carefully been working with a mixture of old and new 600-liter demi-muids to augment the stainless steel tanks used for élevage. The 2013 bottling contains about 20% of wine raised in those barrels; the 2015 is closer to 30%. Starting in 2017 they bought two 35-hl wooden uprights (tronconic tanks) to experiment with for fermentations and aging of the Sauvignon.

Les Ammonites ages on its lees until bottling in October or November following the subsequent harvest, and is never fined or filtered. It is made only in the top years, and the yield is kept between 40 and 50 hectoliters per hectare (the AOC rules permit up to 68 ha/he for Sancerre). Annual production averages 800 cases.
Sancerre rouge OriginePinot NoirPinot Noir that is normally made with native yeast and aged in a large upright oak vat. Annual production averages 750 cases.
Sancerre rosé Origine
Pinot NoirTank fermented Pinot Noir rosé. Nice stuff! Annual production averages 400 cases. Tech sheet here.