Love French wine? Then you need to learn about Sancerre!
What Is Sancerre Wine?
Sancerre Wine is from the town of Sancerre in France’s famous Loire Valley. The region is mainly known for its crisp, flavourful Sauvignon Blanc. Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc is thought of as the ‘Classic French Sauvignon Blanc’ with its distinctive notes of lemon peel and stone fruit.
The region is also known for its Pinot Noir (Sancerre Rouge), although this varietal is less common, with only 20% of the region’s vineyards dedicated to its production. These grapes are also used to produce Sancerre Rosé, using a method whereby the skins are removed from the must before fermentation.
Where Is Sancerre Wine From?
As stated above, Sancerre wine comes from the vineyards that surround the picturesque town of Sancerre in the Loire Valley. The town is like something out of a fairytale with vineyards that stretch all the way down to the banks of the Loire River.
There are many ways a vineyard’s location can influence a wine’s terroir or ‘sense of place’. These include aspect (the angle of the slope on which the vineyard lies), rainfall, elevation, and soil.
The Sancerre region is known for its soil, specifically the presence of flint on the eastern side of the Loire Valley nearest to the river. It’s this presence that gives Sancerre wine its unique pierre à fusil (gunflint aroma).
How Is Sancerre Wine Made?
The winemaking process is fairly complex, but let’s touch on the differences in method between the White Sancerre, Sancerre Rouge and Sancerre Rosé.
The Harvest is one of the most important parts of the winemaking process. A combination of intuition and science is used to determine the readiness of the grapes. The grapes are then picked and sorted to check for quality.
Crushing and Pressing
Sancerre Rouge is allowed to ferment before pressing. This is because the skins will impart the necessary red colour and flavour to the wine.
When making Sancerre white wine and Sancerre Rosé, the skins are removed immediately after crushing. Sauvignon Blanc, being a white grape, will then ferment into a white wine. The pinkish fruit of the Pinot Noir will result in a light pink wine – a Rosé.
This is the process that converts the sugar content of the must into alcohol. The winemakers of the Sancerre Region once solely used wild (naturally occurring) yeasts to create their wines. Due to Climate Change, however, viticulturalists are now using specific yeasts to control the amount of fermentation.
The wine is then moved to another container, leaving behind any larger pieces of sediment. After this, it is filtered through a fine mesh. To remove the very small particles that remain, the winemaker will use a coagulant like egg white (now more commonly clay) to attract these particles and draw them out of the wine.
Ageing and Bottling
There are plenty of wooded and unwooded varieties of all three types of Sancerre Wine. ‘Wooded’ refers to the practice of ageing wine in an oak barrel. This style of maturation deepens its flavour while adding a lacquered mouth feel.
What Does Sancerre Wine Taste Like?
Forbes magazine argued that White Sancerre might be the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world. It’s bright and low in acid with a full-bodiedness due to its high ABV. As mentioned earlier, a good Sancerre White wine will have flavour notes associated with its terroir: white flowers, stone fruit and yellow pepper with distinctive mineral notes (the gun-powder element is always a give-away).
Sancerre Rouge is a fine specimen of Pinot Noir: light, delicate and savoury. It too is floral but still retains its delicate profile thanks to its low ABV and medium body.
Sancerre Rosé is a rare gem. Critics have described the flavour as fruity (with undertones of red currant and strawberry), but dry.
Is Sancerre Dry Or Sweet?
White Sancerre is a dry white wine. The Sancerre Rouge and Rosé are also dry.
How To Drink Sancerre Wine
Wine from the Sancerre region is incredibly special. The history, terroir and flavour in these bottles is worth savouring.
The Sancerre white wine, Sancerre Rosé and even the Sancerre Rouge should be served cold. Wait – a red wine served chilled? Yes! Pinot Noir is often described as a “red that behaves like a white” and it’s 100% okay to serve it from the cooler.
When drinking a good wine, it’s important to take your time.
First smell the wine – try to identify the notes. Can you smell white flowers or gunpowder? The acidity and sweetness will be tasted as you take your first sip. Hold the wine in your mouth for a moment and identify the mouth-feel. If it feels heavy or full-bodied you’re becoming aware of the alcohol content.
On the exhale you might catch some notes you didn’t detect upon first smelling the wine – the subtle flavours that make Sancerre wine so special.
What Food Does Sancerre Wine Pair With?
White Sancerre is known to pair well with seafood and vegetables due to its herbaceousness, and it’s excellent with goat’s cheese. As a full-bodied white it can also stand up to spice where other wines would be flattened.
Sancerre Rouge pairs equally well with seafood, but has a lower ABV and therefore avoid spice. Instead, serve with poultry and soft cheeses.
Sancerre Rose is also good with goat’s cheese, as well as savoury citrus and poultry dishes.
Is Sancerre Expensive?
Like any wine from a respected French Appellation, Sancerre wine will be more on the pricey side. That being said, there are options that won’t break the bank.
Is Sancerre a Good Wine?
Wine from the Sancerre is some of the best in the world, yet different years produce different yields. Look out for 2018 and 2019 bottles.
Why Is Sancerre So Popular?
Sancerre’s wine has an excellent reputation due to its heritage and distinct flavour. It’s also simply delicious.
Is Sancerre The Same as Sauvignon Blanc?
As discussed above – the Sancerre is a region, not a cultivar. Yet 80% of the wine grown in the Sancerre appellation is Sauvignon Blanc.
Ready to sip on a glass?