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THE VINEYARDS

Terrific Pinot Noir wines at Sancerre

Every year, usually in January, I’m driving to the Sancerre vineyards to taste the latest vintages offered by my favorite estates. In recent years, I’ve been impressed by the quality of the red wine production of this appellation, where white wines dominate.

Sancerre is surely the most famous vineyard in the Loire Valley: famous for its dry, round, fruity white wines, with a mineral and salivating saline texture. White wines produced only from the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety. The vineyard of Sancerre extends over a landscape of gentle hills that I strongly recommend you to visit on sunny days, equipped with a corkscrew in your pocket and a few local goat cheese crottin de Chavignol in your basket!

The red wines are certainly less known there, but if you like wines made from the pinot noir grape, you absolutely must stop there for a moment. Wines have never been so good!

In recent years, warmer vintages have added an extra dimension to the wines. I’m thinking about the 2018 or 2019 recent years. The pinot noir grapes harvested at maturity present additional body and richness, melt with the classic aromas of cherries and morello cherries. One can feel this when tasting the wines: a smooth texture offering an obvious and immediate seductive side.

On the hilly slopes of certain terroirs, usually on a clay-limestone base, the grapes show an additional tannic structure, allowing them to improve for a few years in a good cellar.

Being personally a Burgundy red wines lover, I must admit that today, some Pinot Noirs tasted recently in Sancerre have nothing to be ashamed of alongside the beautiful village appellations of the famous Côte de Nuits vineyard!

Red Sancerre: an alternative to Burgundy wines?

Well, another attraction of Sancerre reds, and not the least: the very wise quality/price ratios, unrivaled in Burgundy. For the same quality of wine, it would easily cost double in Burgundy. Another reason to put and save a few bottles in your cellar today!

However, there is a downside. The last warmer vintages in Sancerre are undeniably the mark of global warming. This is unfortunately accompanied by regular late spring frosts, while the buds of the next vintage have barely started to emerge and have already started their vegetative cycle. The volumes of wines available have tended to decrease in recent years. As an example, 2021 will be an almost non-existent vintage for certain Pinot Noir cuvées. A word of advice: get some today!

Let me recommend you two recent crushes during my last trip to Sancerre. Two red wines for a blind tasting with your friends, especially Burgundy wines lovers:

  • Domaine Marius Tabordet, Sancerre rouge 2020 – 16€
  • Domaine Vincent Pinard, Sancerre rouge, Pinot Noir 2019 et 2020 – 32€

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