Summertime Sancerre

Col-head-ZalkinIf you crack open a book set in France in the summertime, there’s a good chance the characters will be drinking Sancerre.

It’s a long-time bistro staple, first popularized in the early 20th century, during the great era of the Parisian sidewalk café. And it has remained popular ever since, while its relative scarcity has kept it from becoming unfashionably commonplace. Given that Sancerre wines are known for their complex, layered flavor, it may surprise you to learn that white wines from Sancerre are made with one of the most common grapes of all — sauvignon blanc.

Sancerre is a fine instance of how terroir can create an indelible imprint on the flavor of the wine. Sauvignon blanc grapes grown in the Sancerre region yield a wine that stands apart from its more fruit-driven siblings from New Zealand or South Africa, with a distinctive minerality due in part to the chalk soil.

The Sancerre region lies in the northern end of the Loire valley, right in the heart of France. It is a region with a long and distinguished history of winemaking, going back as far as ancient Rome. Yet, it is only a short drive from cosmopolitan Paris, giving it an advantage over wines from farther afield.

Sancerre wines are pleasantly acidic, which makes it a refreshing companion to herbal flavors. It goes well with seafood and mild vinaigrettes and it is spectacular with the goat cheese from the same region. It also pairs well with vegetarian food, standing up even to difficult vegetables like Brussels sprouts and asparagus.

Here are a few featured Sancerre wines for your enjoyment:

• Hubert Brochard. Dry and lightly fruity, with aromas of flowers and white fruit. Notes of citrus rind and lemon. Pair it with fresh goat cheese, shellfish and vegetable tarts.

• Paul Prieur la Croix du Perthuis. A good value from a tenth generation family estate. Full bodied with bright acidity and notes of gooseberry and minerals. Pair it with salad greens, fresh tomatoes, and vinaigrettes.

• Gerard Boulay Chavignol. The everyday offering from one of the most highly regarded producers in the region. Gooseberry, tart orange and white pepper with a hint of grassiness. Pair it with sautéed white fish, oysters, smoked salmon, and lighter foods flavored with fresh herbs.

You can find all of these delightful Sancerre wines for purchase at our store, Old Greenwich Fine Wines, located at 195 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich or visit our website Ogfinewines.com. When you stop in, we invite you to taste a number of our favorite wines while we help you find the right bottle for your palate.

 

Robert Zalkin is the owner of Old Greenwich Fine Wines at 195 Sound Beach Avenue. His column will be available weekly at Greenwich-post.com.

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