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Your Weekly Wine Geography Lesson

February 11th, 2010 No Comments

Looking to explore other food-friendly white wines that are also good on their own? Something elegant? Something crisp? Something not too fruity? An obvious choice to add variety to your white wine drinking is the Sauvignon Blanc.   But it shouldn’t And the historical home of this grape is France’s Loire Valley, notably Sancerre.

When it comes to the character of a wine, geography matters. Sauvignon Blanc is grown in many different parts of the world, and expresses itself differently depending on the climate and soil where it finds itself. In Sancerre, cool summer climates give the grape its crisp acidity (what makes it pair so well with food). And since there is a lot of chalk and limestone in the soil, the wine will take on this flavor rather than being all fruit. Its herbal character can sometimes be compared to a grassiness if it is strong. The result is, when it comes out right, a white wine that is gentle, with an herbal perfume smell to it, and a crispness that allows it to pair particularly beautifully with different kinds of fish dishes.

So if you are shopping for a Sancerre wine, what should you look for? A total of 14 villages and three hamlets have the right to produce Sancerre. The two most recognized areas in Sancerre are Chene Marchand in the village of Bue, and the Monts Damnes in Chavignol, which would be the likely locations for the more expensive bottles. Regardless of where it comes from, these wines typically aren’t meant to be aged, and should be enjoyed within a year or two of bottling. A Sancerre Savignon Blanc typically starts around $20 – not at all in the value wines category – and can easily be found in the $50 range as well.

So the next time you are in your local wine shop, make your way to the Loire, and try something truly exceptional.

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