Andrew Guard

Sancerre


Matthias Roblin and Emile Roblin represent the fourth generation of Roblins to make wine in Maimbray, a tiny hamlet of Sury-en-Vaux just north of the old walled, hilltop town of Sancerre. The "château" is the Roblin family household under which both father (Georges) and sons (Matthias and Emile) make their wines. The boys’ mother Annick runs the office for both businesses, while in back under the same roof—but in different rooms—are dad’s and sons’ separate tanks.

On my visit this year (2010) I was really impressed by the amount of investment that has gone into re-building the cellar and winery. Georges is in the process of transferring the domaine entirely over to his sons and in doing so has built the most sophisticated and high quality new winery I have seen. There are some styles of wine that don’t require sophistication, like Cornas for example, but I want my Sancerre to be as sophisticated as possible please! I saw two new state of the art presses, the best quality thermo-regulated tanks and everything has been set up to use gravity for wine transfers instead of pumps....but the most surprising of all—a sorting table ! Who outside of the most quality conscious Burgundian or Bordelais ‘Garagiste’ uses one of these?

The two generations approach winemaking differently. Matthias and Emile work extensively with lees during the élevage, whereas their father does not. Domaine Roblin’s wine is richly concentrated and textured; Château de Maimbray’s wine is lean and crisp. Maimbray the commune is known for its relatively high clay content in its chalk soils and it’s unique ‘Terres Blanches’ terroir which is identical to that of Chablis. The other two Sancerre terroirs are ‘Silex’ (Flint) which is found on the eastern side that borders Pouilly-Fumé and ‘Caillotes’ (little pebbles) that is the largest and most typical. The rare ’Terres Blanches’ makes up the famous hills of Chavignol and the Northern sectors including the Roblin’s vineyards. The wines that come from it are the most dramatic and the most profound; they are also the longest lived.

Matthias and Emile’s holdings come from their mother’s side of the family. Currently, they farm eight hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and one and a half hectares of Pinot Noir on the hillsides of Maimbray and Sury-en-Vaux divided among 17 parcels. In the next couple of years these holdings will increase to roughly ten hectares of Sauvignon and two and a half hectares of Pinot Noir. This is a very serious and talented enterprise and I look forward to tasting the wines each year with the knowledge of how much work they will be doing to improve them. This is exciting when you consider how fantastic they are already!


 

Written by Andrew Guard — June 23, 2012