Sippin' Sancerre

The dog days of summer have come early to my part of the state of Washington. Unusually high temperatures have made me think that everyone needs a can't-miss wine now. The answer seemed clear to me: Sancerre.

Sancerre is made from the sauvignon blanc grape in the Loire Valley of France (see my earlier article about the Loire). The world today is awash in good sauvignon blanc from all over the globe, from South Africa to California and of course, to the state of Washington, but Sancerre remains the classic because it combines the lively, fresh-picked, sometimes tart taste of kiwi and other tropical fruits with a very special hint of minerals. All of this makes the wine both lively and sometimes complex, resulting in a great food wine.

The famous dry white wines Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume come from the easternmost part of the Loire Valley, as well as the dry whites from Menetou-Salon, Reuilly and Quincy. All are made from sauvignon blanc grapes. The vineyards of Sancerre are spread over chalky limestone and flint hills near the town of the same name. The philosophy of winemaking in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume has traditionally focused on preserving the pure uninhibited flavors of sauvignon blanc and the grape's natural high acidity. Therefore, most wine producers make the wine in large casks or stainless steel tanks.

Although Sancerre brings to mind white wine, red and rose Sancerres are also made. In fact, red Sancerre accounts for about 20 percent of total production. Both red and rose Sancerres are made from pinot noir with some gamay.

Sancerre is more expensive than Chilean or New Zealand sauvignon blanc, but when you're looking for a can't-miss white that's great with seafood, pasta salad, or even curried chicken, then the tasty, well-made Sancerre is a good choice.

Durella DeGrasse
Certified Wine Professional

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