Home to the most refined Sauvignon Blanc
The Upper Loire Valley (or Centre Loire) is the smallest region, but it’s home to the most famous Loire appellations–Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. The Sauvignon Blanc from these two areas are emulated throughout the wine world. The two towns of Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire (where Pouilly-Fumé is made) sit on opposite sides of the Loire river with Sancerre being about 10 miles to the northwest of Pouilly. Centre is closest to the source of the Loire River in the Massif Central Mountains and the majority of the vineyards are found along the river where they take advantage of its temperature moderating influence. The soils vary quite a bit with three distinct soil types, all found atop a base of Kimmeridgian Limestone, (the same as Chablis, parts of Champagne, and the white cliffs of Dover):
- Terre Blanche is a mix of clay, Kimmeridgian limestone, and oyster shells, creating wines that are fruity, ageable, and angular with high acidity
- Caillotes features small pebbles of Oxfordian limestone and yields wines with delicate perfume and less structure than Terre Blanche
- Silex, or flint, lends a smoky, gunflint quality to the grapes
In many ways, these soils have more in common with the Burgundy region of Chablis, (only 70 miles/125 km to the east), than with the rest of the Loire Valley. The climate is what can be called semi-continental with big differences in the daytime and nighttime temperatures (the diurnal swing). Frost is always a concern during spring and fog engulfs the valley in the fall.
Sancerre AOP is on the eastern edge of the Loire Valley with grapes planted in all three soil types and, when blended together, create the benchmark for Sauvignon Blanc – racy, refreshing with zippy citrus, lemongrass, gooseberry and chalky minerality. Often overshadowed, the red wines of Sancerre are elegant expressions of Pinot Noir – fresh with bright, high-acid cherry and plum aromas. Pouilly-Fumé on the other hand only produces white wines, rich in texture, with gooseberry and grapefruit flavors. The red Pinot noir wines are very light in both body and color that are similar to other French expression of the grape like some in Burgundy.
“Nature is always very resilient”
“In my family, we are winemakers for 14 generations (around 1550) in Center Loire, with today the name Sancerre left bank..
We find here the most beautiful wealth of France in terms of geology with a very important variety of soil on a tiny piece of land of about 10km: limestone clams, sillex band and white earth coexist and can develop aromas sometimes very mineral sometimes very fruity.
In the region of Sancerre, we have to juggle with complicated climates with phases of heavy rain and others of intense drought. But nature is always very resilient. The timing of the harvest for example is crucial, a week apart can change everything about the level of concentration / dilution of alcohol. This is why our winemaking process is based on a mix of sustainability and biodynamic. The idea is to let the vine express itself as freely as possible, to use a minimum of herbicide and only natural yeasts.
Our goal is to have all Sancerre farms recognized under the label Haute Valeur Environnementale (HVE) within 5 years. For this, we must comply with many rules of environmental compliance including wastewater treatment. I usually say that we take the land of our children. I therefore try to respect the earth to give them the same richness that I have known to him.
And then it’s all about the taste! What matters to me is that the consumer feels a real pleasure of the senses both by tasting one of our first clay-limestone as an aperitif wine or with a long-keeping wine around a gourmet meal.”