Domaine Emile Balland
A View from the Top
Emile Balland is a tall man. Perhaps it’s seeing the world from such a physically elevated position that allows him to take the long view when it comes to his vineyards and wine making. Standing at the top of his steep 0.8 hectare vineyard in Sancerre, looking out onto the rest of the appellation, you get a feeling of exhilaration from the beauty of the view. Or maybe it’s just being out of breath. While Emile ran up this slope in steady, long strides, the rest of us trudged up behind him huffing and puffing. Cecille, Emile’s wife, just shook her head and laughed at the good-natured show off she married.
The far sighted approach that Emile takes in the vines manifests itself in meticulous work, and respect for biodiversity and the organic life of the soil. Only natural treatments are used when necessary as Emile believes that healthy soil is crucial in the transference of terroir to the finished wines.
The estate is comprised of just 9 total hectares; 1 in Sancerre and 8 in the Coteaux du Giennois. Emile’s holdings in the Giennois lie within the villages of Bonny-sur-Loire and Beaulieu-sur-Loire where the vineyards rise gently from the banks of the Loire. From these calcareous soils, with sub-strata of silex and clay, come the wines Emile calls “Les Beaux Jours.” The red is a juicy blend of pinot noir and gamay, and the white is entirely sauvignon. Seasonally, Emile produces rosé from the same blend as the rouge
Having grown up in Bué, the son of wine growers, Emile naturally makes his own Sancerre from a single hectare of vines, 10% of which are in his home town, which he is very proud of. He calls his Sancerre “Croq Caillotte” in recognition of the flavor imparted by the white stones covering the vineyards, and which are the hallmark of Sancerre’s terroir.
The difficult 2016 vintage led Emile to begin sourcing fruit from friends in the Loire et Cher region. The project was such a success that Emile has continued to make the wines under the new ‘Elementerre’ label, exclusive to Bonhomie Wine Imports, as well as a delicious Sancerre sourced from two multi-generational, family-owned estates in the region.
2018 – 90 pts – Wine & Spirits – April 2020