If you’ve had sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, California or Chile and then tried a bottle from France’s Sancerre region, it quickly becomes clear that not all sauvignon blanc grapes are created equal. When I say “equal,” I don’t mean quality (that’s dependent on the producer), but style. All of these regions produce exceptional styles of this grape, but there is just something exceptionally appealing about the elegant, flinty style of Sancerre’s grapes.
Sancerre is a wine but also a place on the eastern end of the Loire Valley of France. The valley starts in the west at the Atlantic Ocean and extends east through Anjou, Saumur and Touraine, reaching the heart of central France.
As with all terroir-driven wines, the Loire Valley region showcases ideal conditions for growing sauvignon blanc, with its unique soils and semi-continental climate. This region’s soil is very specific. The area comprises three subtypes of soil, evoking distinct characteristics in the wine’s flavors. The Silex or flinty soil gives wine a gunflint, smoke and mineral component. Kimmeridgian marl (a chalky clay soil) offers distinct fruit and higher acidity, while Oxforidan limestone (larger pieces of gravel) provide the wines’ delicate and perfumed aromas.
Compared to other sauvignon blancs, I consider Sancerre one of elegance with its restrained style. The grape is known for its racing acidity, but in Sancerre styles you’ll find refreshing aromas and tastes of fresh herbs, grapefruit, lime peel and pear, to name a few.
Sancerre wines fall into our Splurge category. For Value ($15 or less) options that are similar, consider these less famous regions just west of Sancerre — Menetou-Salon, Reuilly and Quincy.
- 2014 Signature de Loire Sancerre, France (about $19 retail)
- 2014 Sauvion Sancerre, France (about $34 retail)
- 2014 Domaine Serge Laporte Sancerre, France (about $27 retail)
- 2014 Chateau de Sancerre, France (about $27 retail)
- 2014 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre, France (about $29 retail)