A classic summer white with a medieval heritage
With a bright citrus and stone fruit flavor profile, bracing acidity, and flinty minerality, Sauvignon Blanc is a classic summer wine, and some of the world’s best derive from the region of Sancerre in France’s Loire Valley.
The medieval hilltop town of Sancerre sits in the center of the map of France. It’s on the west bank of the Loire River where it flows north before taking a sharp jog at Orléans in its journey westward toward the Bay of Biscay. It was here that vineyards were first planted by the Roman legions during their conquest of Gaul in the first century BC. By the 12th century, Augustinian monks were producing excellent Pinot Noir wines coveted by French royalty. But when the 19th-century phylloxera epidemic decimated French vineyards, the hardier Sauvignon Blanc grapes that thrive in the region’s ancient soils were replanted.
In geographical area Sancerre is small. Vineyards, planted on the steep slopes of rolling hills of chalk, limestone/clay, marl and flint, flourish in various micro-climates, all influenced by the region’s semi-continental climate of cold winters and hot, dry summers. These diverse terroirs produce exceptional Sauvignon Blancs. In the central and southwestern part of the region, where chalk and gravel soils prevail, the wines are highly aromatic, fruit-driven and acidic. In the west and north, the marl and limestone/clay result in highly structured wines with powerful fruit flavor profiles. The flint soils of the eastern sections bring a distinct minerality. And in Sancerre’s sister town of Poilly-Fumé, just across the river, clay-and-flint-rich soils produce wines of a smoky or “gunflint” quality.
Overall, the best Sancerre Sauvignon Blancs are dry and aromatic, lower in alcohol, and exhibit stony minerality and brisk acidity. These are lavish, balanced, complex wines with good aging potential (although meant to be consumed young), showing off aroma and flavors of lemons, limes, grapefruit, apricots, peaches, passion fruit, gooseberries, plums and white flowers with overtones of green pepper, herbs and grassiness. Most are fermented in stainless steel tanks, although some vintners are experimenting with barrel-fermenting and aging in neutral oak barrels.
Sancerre Sauvignon Blancs are exceptionally food-friendly, pairing with chicken, seafood, cream-and-butter-sauced pastas, salads, vegetable dishes, and young goat cheeseEdit Module