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All things bright and beautiful (Sancerre, France – Day Two)

Sancerre is another one of those wine words that is almost a synonym for white wine. The white wines have been well known along time not only in France but also in the UK, where as has been suggested by Chris Kissack, Sancerre is an easy name to say and thus ask for. Sancerre is on the Loire River and is thus part of the valley, but it is a long way even from Touraine let alone the western parts of the Loire. It is actually closer to Burgundy which it has more in common in terms of terroir, climate and even varieties. The AOC for Sancerre white wines was created in 1936 around the same time that most of the AOCs in the Loire Valley were established. The cultivation of grapes in this part of France is believed to date back to the Roman era, so it has a much longer history. The name is taken from the village where a castle once stood with nine towers, only one of which remains. This hill and surrounding slopes make it ideal for viticulture in a pretty cool climate, as the exposure to the sun improves ripeness. This is in contrast to Touraine which is a little more flat but also a little warmer. The key grape variety here is sauvignon blanc and is without question the best known place for the variety. 20% of the vineyards however are planted to pinot noir which produce both red and rose wines for which an additional AOC was created in 1959. With the market changing away from sancerre red wines they are beginning to produce more rose wine which is in a very light dry and food-friendly style. The white wines differ depending mostly on the specific terroir on which the vineyards are planted, and also a little on how the wines are vinified.
Always work to be done in the vineyards

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Roland Tissier – 27/11/2012

Sancerre 2011
Juicy floral ripe fruit, kiwi pineapple, quite tropical with plenty of ripe citrus elements. Very bold and aromatic, inviting and fresh. Bright clean, good on the front palate, very fruity and quite broad, pleasant and extremely drinkable but not at all complex.

Sancerre 2009
More floral but similar in character to the 2011. More orchard fruit than citrus or tropical, even a little white berry character. Bright nice minerality, lovely and supple, quite subtle as well, long on the palate, great fruit complexity, builds a little and then sits quite nicely.

Saint Benoit 2006
Concentrated dense and complex, more masculine and serious, still quite youthful and locked up. Bold expressive on the mid-palate, quite intense texture and very long. Amazingly the barrique character is still showing as youthful after six years, battonage adds an extra layer of character. Minerality is wonderful but hard to see around the oak and fruit for the time-being. Give it another five years and it will really start to open out and show more character on the back of the palate.

Saint Benoit 2010
Wonderfully complex yet concentrated, exceptional balance between fruit, floral, minerality, a little flint and mineral character yet to truly express itself. Express but so subtle and sumptuous. Ripeness but elegance, balance, structure, harmony depth and length, excellent quality, but I need to see it again.

Sancerre Rouge 2011
A little volatile on the nose, too stalky and oaky, out of balance. Medicinal on the nose. Quite simple on the palate, broad and lacking in structure. Drinkable but not a great example.

Enamel tanks at Roland Tissier

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