Known for its exceptional Sauvignon Blanc wines, Sancerre is found in some of the world’s best restaurants and praised by many of the top wine experts. Although Sancerre is most famous for its white wine, the appellation also produces high quality red and rosé using Pinot Noir grapes.
East of Bourges, the Sancerre appellation is located along the left bank of the Loire River, stretching across 3,000 hectares (7,413 acres). This appellation extends over the villages of Bannay, Bué, Crézancy, Menetou-Ratel, Ménétréol, Montigny, St-Satur, Ste-Gemme, Sancerre, Sury-en-vaux, Thauvenay, Veaugues, Verdigy and Vinon.
Vines have been growing in Sancerre since ancient times, with the first historical evidence found in 582 as referenced in Gregory of Tours’ book, Historiae Francorum. It was during the 12th century that Saint-Satur Augustine monks and the ruling counts of Sancerre began to seriously cultivate the vines. At that time, Sancerre was famous for its Pinot Noir wine, which was exported from the region along the Loire River. References of wine from Sancerre are found in accounts of life in the royal court, and Duke Jean de Berry believed it to be the finest wine in the entire kingdom.
Phylloxera destroyed the predominant Pinot Noir vineyards at the end of the 19th century. Sauvignon Blanc has since become widely planted, and is particularly suited to the local climate. The terroir in the region helps yield great white wines that are AOC classified since 1936. True to its origins, Sancerre still produces red and rosé wines using Pinot Noir grapes, receiving the AOC accreditation in 1959.
Three types of soils are characteristic of the Sancerre region:
· Clay and limestone white soils, (terres blanches) situated on the hills of the most western part of Sancerrois
· Pebbly soils, known as caillottes
· Siliceous-clayey soils found in the hills east of the vineyard
The “Vendanges” (grape harvest) in Centre-Loire begin between the last week of September and the first week of October, ending the last two weeks of October. Some grapes are still harvested by hand, particularly red grapes, though most are picked with mechanical grape harvesters. The grapes are sent to the modern wine storehouses for processing. In the Centre-Loire, three winemaking methods are employed.
Sancerre whites are dry, lively and fruity, combining minerality with citrus aromas. The attack melts into a rich, round mouthfeel. The red wines showcase the virtues of Pinot noir, with notes of cherry and morello cherry. The mouthfeel is firm and full, with a long finish. The rosés blend fruit and freshness, making them terrific wines, not only for the summertime but also for fine dining.