Along this little wine journey, we will taste the white grape, Sauvignon Blanc, a couple of times, today being the first! Sancerre is an appellation on the left bank of the Loire river, within the Loire Valley region in Northwestern France.Within Loire Valley, there is also Pouilly Fume, another distinct version of Sauvignon Blanc. However, for this post, we will focus on the wines of Sancerre. Sauvignon Blanc has really made a name for itself in Marlborough, New Zealand, but I would be remiss if I did not feature Sancerre as well. The style of Sancerre differs from that of Marlborough by having more minerality with a less acidic edge (due to its growing climate). Sancerre also has some subdued citrus fruit notes, as well as soft notes of greenery, while Marlborough bursts with herbaceousness and tropical fruit. When tasting these wines side by side, these differences are obvious. Take notes of this week’s Sancerre because Marlborough is on the calendar for August!
The Sancerre appellation has a lengthy history of producing wines, possibly dating back to the 6th century if early writings are accurate. However, the area wasn’t planted with Sauvignon Blanc until after the phylloxera infestation at the end of the 19th century. Until this time, the region mainly grew Pinot Noir. After these vines were virtually disseminated, the area was replanted with Sauvignon Blanc. The soils in Sancerre are mainly limestone based but can also contain clay, flint and gravel. These combinations lead to different mineral notes to the wines.
I decided to pair my Sancerre with an herbed goat cheese topped grilled chicken breast. The pale lemon hued wine had a pronounced nose of lemon peel, green grass, unripe green apple, gardenia, and key lime. When I tasted it, the acid wasn’t as sharp as some representations of this varietal but was still crisp and refreshing. The acid in the wine accentuated the acid in the goat cheese. The Sancerre rinsed flavors of lemon pith, lemon juice, gardenia, key lime and gardenia over my palate, in addition to hints of green grass that married well with the herbal notes in the cheese. The combination is lovely and has a lengthy history in this region. What a great snack on a warm summer evening!