The crisp, vibrant style of the cool 2011 vintage plays marvelously into the understated, elegant style of the Sancerre appellation’s namesake château. Bright yellow with gold flashes at the rim, the 2011 Château de Sancerre displays an intense Sauvignon Blanc varietal bouquet of orange flower and wet stone. Vibrant flavors of citrus, melon and stone fruit float above the palate, enlivened by a rush of gentle minerality and crisp acidity toward the finish. A terrific aperitif all by itself, and a match made in heaven with a creamy chevre from our cheese department.
The 2012 Complices de Loire Touraine Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grown on a 3.5 acre sand and clay vineyard in the heart of the Touraine region of the Loire Valley. The lovely bouquet is an exotic mélange of fresh cut violets, spice/saffron, and cherry confit. On the palate, the wine is every bit a Loire, with the classic crisp minerality of the region; yet because it is made from 100% Pinot Noir, the undercurrent of pure red fruit also calls to mind a young red Burgundy, or a cru Beaujolais (made from Gamay). Deep ruby garnet in color, with soft tannins and a fresh, fruity mouth feel, this wine is made to be enjoyed now. Serve lightly chilled.
I can hardly recall the last time I came across a $9 wine as stylish as this. It's low price also helps makes the next wine, a French Champagne, affordable/includable.
Although Cheverny is not well-known compared to other the Loire Valley appellations, such as Pouilly-Fumé or Sancerre, with which it is often compared, in certain respects it is even more interesting. Unlike Pouilly-Fumé or Sancerre, which are made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc, Cheverny uses a substantial percentage of Chardonnay, the archetypal grape of white Burgundy. The use of Chardonnay gives Cheverny a roundness, juiciness, and soft opulence that is most appealing. Domaine Sauger dates back to 1870, and this cuvée is made from the estate's oldest vines, which provide even greater depth than its regular bottling. Michel Labardin calls this a "summer sipper suprême," and I would be hard-pressed to disagree.
Vinified in stainless steel tanks without oak contact, the 2012 Cellier de La Thibaude is still quite youthful, offering unusually vibrant citrus, gooseberry, lime, and mineral notes on the bouquet; on the palate, notes of fresh grapefruit, yellow apple, and meyer lemon are nicely set off by brisk, tangy minerality. This is a highly versatile wine, with plenty of freshness for the cocktail hour, but also with sufficient intensity to work at the dinner table.
This nervy rosé really needs a plate of fresh, briny oysters to show at its best. The bouquet is classic Sancerre, with plenty of minerally notes to complement the tart strawberry notes of the Pinot Noir grape. An ideal match with classic Loire cuisine such as such as goat cheese, ceviche, and of course, oysters.