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16 Oct 2022 | Randy Kemner


Fall seems like unlikely time to be promoting the thrilling Sauvignon Blancs of France’s Loire Valley.  This time of year we are thinking more of breaking into our red wines as the temperature drops and night falls earlier. But these dry white, minerally wines are alive and passionate, (feelings we usually get in the Spring), but they also provide a refreshing respite during the colder seasons and their heavier meals.

Loire Sauvignon Blancs are not trying to replicate the majesty of white Bordeaux.  Instead, they seem at place on a modest table with a hearty seafood dish like steamed mussels and crusty bread. 

Also, since we are in an “R” month (September, October, November, etc.) I need not remind you that Sancerre is one of Paris’ favorite wines with which to wash down huitres, the fatty mollusks we know as oysters on the half-shell.  With the holidays not too far on the horizon, an oyster platter will be better served with the wines on this list than most expensive Champagnes Tête de Cuvées.


To familiarize myself with our current selection of Loire Sauvignon Blancs in preparation for our upcoming Saturday tasting (you understand the sacrifices we must make in order to stage such a display), I started pulling corks until I ran out of cork space.  Here are my notes.

2020 Henry Pellé Menetou-Salon “Morgues”, Loire Valley

In France’s eastern Loire Valley, there are a string of Sauvignon Blanc villages, the most notable Sancerre and Pouilly-Sur-Loire (Pouilly-Fumé).  Less known is Menetou-Salon where Henry Pellé has been crafting easy-drinking Sauvignons and on good years, very appealing Pinot Noir, which is also allowed to grow there. This vintage is a pretty straightforward effort, softer, easy drinking, with a minerally finish.  It’s a dry white wine that can flesh out a plate of vegetables and steamed seafood.

$22.99 per bottle


2021 Sylvain Bailly Quincy “Beaucharme”, Loire Valley

Importer Michael Sullivan once told me he likes to drink this wine while doing his bookkeeping at night but warned me it’s so easy to drink it could be trouble!  Quincy is another town in the string of Sauvignon Blanc Villages, and this version, made by Sancerre producer Sylvain Bailly, has always been a bargain.  “Baby Sancerre” doesn’t give this wine its due, but you get the point.  A bit lighter in body and concentration, but still possessing a lively personality, the first thing the wine delivers is an aroma with floral notes.  Light to medium in body, it is almost steely at this point, with an electric finish that may or may not dim over the next six months.

$17.99 per bottle


2020 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre, “Les Baronnes”, Loire Valley

2020 was a riper year for this bottling by well-regarded  vintner Henri Bourgeois.  With a full, ripe aroma with some notes of grapefruit, there is a degree of concentration in this wine.  Roundly textured as the nose would suggest, but the wine is not flabby;  quite the opposite.  You could describe the finish as “brisk.”

$28.99 per bottle


2021 Sylvain Bailly Sancerre “Terroirs”, Loire Valley

Yes, the yields have been low, so we’ve been out of our house Sancerre for months.  The new boat is in now and Bailly’s latest Sancerre has arrived.  Thank goodness!  There is a brilliant lift to the aroma followed by a lighter-bodied, fresh-tasting, tightly wound flavor and a lingering, satisfying aftertaste.  In a few months I suspect that the wine will relax its tension to become a crowd pleaser, just in time for it to disappear of our shelves waiting for the next vintage and the next.

$26.99 per bottle


2020 Lucien Raymond Sancerre, Loire Valley

At first the pleasant floral aroma needed to be coaxed out of the glass, but after sampling the full-bodied, round, generous wine, I was rather stunned as the acidity roared into the wine providing a lively attitude to the finish.

$29.99 per bottle


2020 Domaine Chatelain Sancerre, Loire Valley

This is a more powerful side to the Sauvignon Blanc of Sancerre.  A bolder aroma announces this is a wine of consequence, but not in size.  Rather, this medium weighted wine shows its pedigree from start to finish, and the result is distinctive.

$31.99 per bottle


2020 Emmanuel Mellot Sancerre, “Ma Colline”, Loire Valley

There are a million Mellots in Sancerre, yet Emmanuel Mellot is making small batches of fine wines in the best artisan tradition.  This is a fruity, serious wine that impresses from the first sip.  Solidly structured with a concentrated core of fruit and a lively—very lively—finish.

$38.99 per bottle


2019 Jean-Max Roger Sancerre, Vieille Vignes, Loire Valley

I don’t know whether it’s the extra year of bottle age, but this substantial Sauvignon Blanc has developed some additional richness, the nose reminding me of some dry Loire Chenins.  In the mouth, there is a round texture to this fairly full-bodied wine.  The result is a richness to the straightforward, no-nonsense flavor.

$36.99 per bottle


2020 Domaine de Sacy Sancerre, Loire Valley

I fell in love with this Sancerre immediately upon encountering my first sniff!  Gorgeous Sancerre aroma.  In the mouth, the wine is generous and loaded with the kind of minerality and fruit you only find in the finest examples of the appellation.  A pure joy to drink.

$25.99 per bottle


2021 Domaine des Vieux Pruniers Sancerre, Loire Valley

Usually a bit fleshier than neighbor Sylvain Bailly’s Sancerre, but this year’s version is a knockout.  With a gorgeous aroma of white grapefruit that is bright and effusive, the texture is rounder than the average bottling.  Medium-weight in the mouth, and very satisfying, displaying its generous fruit without holding back at all.  A very exciting vintage for the estate.

$26.99 per bottle


2020 Domaine des Griffes Sancerre, Loire Valley

I am reluctant to write this wine up, seeing how we are nearly sold out.  Bright aroma, richly textured, with a flavor that follows, luxurious round texture and a straightforward flavor. 

$25.99 per bottle


2020 Domaine Girault Sancerre “La Grand Mouton”, Loire Valley

The nose may be a bit controversial—slightly peaty?  But the flavor and the mouthfeel are both generous, round and pleasant, finishing with a reminder of grapefruit pith.

$31.99 per bottle


2020 Domaine Petit et Fille Pouilly-Fumé, Loire Valley

I was rather surprised to spot this bargain price on our shelves, I suppose because we acquired this Sauvignon Blanc directly from the importer—no middleman.  The aroma is pretty, and the texture has a little lively spritz still in there.  No drama here.  Simpler flavor with a bright kick in the finish.

$21.99 per bottle


2020 Jean Pabiot Domain des Fines Caillottes Pouilly Fumé, Loire Valley

Who doesn’t love the old-school French wine label on this bottle?  Inside, it’s a serious wine, round in texture like many in its vintage, but extremely elegant.  An authentic version of Pouilly-Fumé.

$25.99 per bottle


2021 Regis Minet Pouilly Fumé, Vieille Vignes, Loire Valley

This is a core item of importer Kermit Lynch’s portfolio, and a wine we’ve stocked since our earliest days.  I cannot remember a vintage I’ve enjoyed more than the current one, though.  I fell in love with the floral aroma immediately.  The flavor captivated me as well.  Medium weighted, brightly structured, and loaded with jazzy Loire Sauvignon Blanc goodness.  I just love this wine!

$27.99 per bottle


2021 Domaine Blanchet Pouilly-Fumé, Loire Valley

Every time we bring in the dazzling Pouilly-Fumés from Blanchet, they seem to sell out overnight.  We know yields are down, and we know we can’t stock this wine forever.  So, we’re trying to get this into as many appreciative hands as possible while we still have it to give.  The aroma is floral and bright.  This vintage is a little more serious than the last, with quite a rich mouthfeel and a somewhat round texture, but the character of the wine finishes with a bright, nearly steely acidity.  It’ll be interesting to drink this wine in the Spring if it lasts that long.

$25.99 per bottle

We're thrilled, too. See you here this Saturday 1-4.
Randall Kemner - 21 Oct 2022 - 23:56
Hi Randy & Team,
Janet Darrow and I are happy to see the return of wine tasting, especially whites for Janet!
Look forward to seeing you Saturday(tomorrow).
Best regards,
Tony Armand - 21 Oct 2022 - 17:29
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