Despite everything, springtime in Europe is still beautiful to behold; even the virus can’t stop the flowers from coming out or the budding vines from growing their grapes. One of the most beautiful areas in Europe is France’s Loire Valley and the mountaintop town of Sancerre. The Sauvignon Blanc here is so good and distinctive that the links between the town and the wine are interchangeable. In Roman times, when France was Gaul and a Roman province, Roman Emperors demanded this town’s distinctive white wine. Well, the emperors are gone, but the demand has never stopped; let me give you a few examples.
The Pastou family have been growing wine for 11 generations and the current father/son team of Paul and Jean Marc Pastou produce what I think is the classic Sancerre-flinty dry, hints of citrus, honeysuckle and kiwi, with a structured, long finish. Their 2019 Sancerre, Pastou,Sauvignon Blanc, ($23.99), is rich and full, definitely a wine for sipping. Asian cuisine, Chicken Picatta and Rainbow Trout with crab stuffing are all-natural pairings for this wine.
Pascal Jolivet Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc, ($25.99)with its distinctive, vivid aromas and zesty acidity, is easy to peg in a blind tasting of dry white wines. The wine’s green, herbaceous and fruity scents are sometimes accented with musky aromas, yet its flavors are consistently fresh and bright. You might try this one with some fresh oysters and goat cheese or Veal Marsala; the structure of this wine really plays of the flavors of these foods.
Although Sauvignon Blanc is the predominant wine in Sancerre, about 20 % of the production goes into making some delicious Pinot Noir wines as well. Famille Bourgeois Sancerre Pinot Noir Rose Les Vignes Jeunes, 2019, ($21.99), is made by a family with ten generations of experience. Arnaud Bourgeois and his children make the wine and matriarch Jean-Marie runs the family’s hotel in the village of Chavignol. Their Pinots get their character and texture from soil that’s very rich in limestone at its base; this gives their Pinots a supple, earthy character that’s different from Pinots from Burgundy. Game birds, Venison and Pork dishes pair tremendously with this wine.
Fournier Sancerre, Les Belles Vignes, 2017, ($28.99), is a real family affair and the family, relative newcomers by French standards, control over 220 acres in Sancerre proper and adjacent villages. Look no further than here as one of the hotspots for the classic expression of old school Sauvignon Blanc. Acidity and citrus present first with a touch of herbal, mineral laced, brightness. The grapefruit high notes that often present in the New World expressions of Sauvignon Blanc are discreet here, in the background; just enough to give some backbone. The Fournier family has worked hard to produce consistently pretty styles showcasing elegance, clean fruit, and fleur de sel, flint and chive notes. Chiseled yet elegant with clean fruit and a soft, albeit high-toned finish. Classically Old World.
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