The Best Sancerre Wines
The popularity of Sancerre, a region in the Central Vineyards of the Loire Valley, has skyrocketed in the last decade or so and with good reason. Some of the most beguiling Sauvignon Blancs, tasting of elderflower and gooseberry are made there. With age they can acquire smoky notes that only up their intrigue factor. While known for white wine, Sancerre also makes reds and rosé from the Pinot Noir grape. Let's take a closer look at the best Sancerre wines and the different styles out there.
There are three main types of soils in Sancerre, all based around sedimentary soils, but of different types that can yield surprisingly different wines.
Caillottes, consisting of shallow of gravel over limestone, produces the most delicate of wines. They are dainty but aromatic and built more for immediate consumption rather than aging.
To the far west of the region are the Terres Blanches, made of clay, limestone and Kimmeridgian marl: the same soil found in Chablis. Read our ‘Earth’ article on Chablis to find out more about Kimmeridgian marl. It refers to the era 150-157 million years ago in the Upper Jurassic Epoch formed from fossilized oyster shells. In contrast to wines from Caillottes, the Terres Blanches wines are ones of power and structure. They benefit from some bottle age.
So, where are the best Sancerre wines to be found? For a treat from Terres Blanches’ renowned vineyard of Côte des Monts Damnès look to producers Pascal Cotat and Didier Dagueneau. Cul de Beaujeu is another cru to look for. Try Francois Cotat’s offerings to get a taste for it. So is the cru of Chavignol, now more known for goat cheese than wine—perhaps the reason Sancerre and cheese make such a charming pairing.
Perhaps the most famous of the Sancerre soils are those of Silex. Silicon dioxide goes through chemical changes becoming hard and sharp. Flint absorbs heat, ripening the grapes more rapidly. These are the wines with the most flinty and smoky notes. Silex is also found across the Loire River in Pouilly-Fumé, where Didier Dagueneau produces his ‘Silex’ named after the soil it grows in. Les Romains is a particularly cherished vineyard to look for.
Read more in our Earth series here:
- Terroir, Great Chablis and Earth Day
- Chalk, English Sparkling Wine and Champagne
- Barolo: Italy's Finest Wine Region?