When in France it would be rude to not find your way to the nearest world renowned wine region. There being so many to choose from and all.
For me, this time, it was Sancerre: Map
This hilly little outpost overlooking Loire is responsible for producing some of the world’s finest Sauvignon Blanc wines and gives neighboring Burgundy a run for its money on Pinot Noir.
A visit to the Maison des Sancerre explained why. This pocket-sized appellation includes three zones with distinct soil types, ranging from rocks to clay. It seems faintly ridiculous that the difference of a few meters and some dirt should have such a profound influence on the wine but we confirmed, via numerous tastings, that Pinot and Sauvignon alike are appreciably different in each terroir.
The Maison website explains:
The vines have flourished in Sancerre for many centuries… Writings dating back to 582 attest to its existence. The notion of climate appears as of 1482! The vineyard of Sancerre intrigues and is the subject of research over the centuries… Father Poupart, in his history of Sancerre wrote in 1777: “There may be no terroir more differentiated than that of the Mountains of Sancerre. The multiple ravines offer distinct veins of earth everywhere”. In the 19th century, the vineyards were hit by phylloxera, destroying vines at a lightning speed. As a result of this crisis, the grape variety was changed to Sauvignon Blanc which showed its most beautiful side and expression in the Sancerre terroir. Women and men have since endeavored for quality, and were recognized with their AOC in 1936 for their white wines. In 1959, the AOC for red and rosé wines from Pinot Noir was obtained. From then on, many collective initiatives have been set up for the pursuit of excellence of Sancerre wines.
Our stroll around the town included a visit to the cathedral, a lunch involving goat’s cheese and sweeping panoramas of vineyards and nuclear power plants. Viva la 21st century!
Here are a few snapshots.