Recently we spent some time driving around Sancerre, Verdigny and Chavignol. The latter two are two of the most important towns from which that fabulous and famous wine Sancerre originates. Sancerre is comprised of 14 communes and approximately 4,000 acres. The towns themselves are medieval and sit on hill tops. Now you don’t have to be a Sancerre lover to take in the beauty of this landscape. One of the prettiest, in our opinion, of the Loire wine regions. In this region you find steep hills, valleys and catles on a drive that will take your breath away. This region is known as the Upper Loire. There are 3 main sections of the Loire since it encomapasses such a large area: Upper Loire, Middle Loire and Lower Loire. There are 87 Appelations within these regions.
There is also history just around the corner in Bourges for people like us who like to mix things up. So you need not spend all your time drinking wine.
This area is also famous for its delicious goat cheese Crottin de Chavignol which is a perfect match for some Sancerre or, as we had for lunch a nice light pink Sancerre. A match made in heaven.
On July 20,1931 some of the winemakers in Sancerre got together and formed the Syndicate of Sancerre. They wanted people to know that their wines were of importance. The soil in this area is flinty clay which continually warms the vines. Some of the vines are aged and as they get older the fruit performs much better. This terroir imparts the taste of flint and mineral.
On Nov 4,1936 this group requested the designation AOC be used and of course received it and so they became known as Sancerre AOC. This decree states among other things how each vine must be pruned, how many bunches are allowed on each vine and what the yield shall be. Now you know why you get that crisp, dry, herbal, mineral, citrus and of course flinty flavor.
Most people associate Sancerre as Savignon blanc but there is also a rouge which is made from Pinot Noir grapes and sometimes a bit of Gamay. The red version is not as highly regarded as the white but certainly worth a try if you should find one.
The Loire is not limited to white varietals although 50% of their wines are white. As you travel through the Loire the varietals change as does the terrain.
The Loire is also the 2nd largest bubbly producer in France producing Cremant de Loire. This is made in the same method as Champagne with a second fermentation in the bottle. This is usually made with a blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and at times Cabernet Franc.
Now, we must drive on to the next region of the Loire for some Chinon!