Our third wine on the Varietal Voyage brings us to France, specifically Sancerre at the western end of the Loire Valley. This wine was recommended by our favorite wine merchant, Ben Christiansen, the owner of the Waterford Wine Company in Milwaukee.
From the Atlantic coast to the mountains of central France, the Loire Valley runs east to west for some six hundred miles. The Loire is France’s third largest appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) and the top producer of white wine. This is the definitive home of Sauvignon Blanc.
Sancerre is one of the most well-known wine regions in the Loire. The village of Sancerre is surrounded by several wine producing communes such as Sury-en-Vaux, the source of this week’s wine. Domaine Claude Riffault grows their sauvignon blanc on the limestone hillsides of Sury-en-Vaux, northwest of Sancerre proper. The cool continental climate combined with the chalky, flinty soils make this area ideal for fresh, fruity Sauvignon Blancs. The grapes are hand picked and fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve the freshness and fruitful character.
Of the three Sauvignon Blancs we tasted, Sue and I agree that this was our favorite. The light straw color was a little darker than the previous two wines we sampled. The grassy, herbal aromas accompanied flavors of fresh citrus and nectarines. A pleasant mineral quality tied everything together. Well balanced acidity, and herbal notes carried on through to a clean finish. This wine should pair wonderfully with seafood. We tried it with steamed mussels and found the mineral qualities of the wine and the shellfish to be a good match.
This wine was a great finish to this leg of the journey. We now head off into the world of chenin blancs to explore what this varietal has to offer.
2007 Domaine Claude Riffault “Les Boucauds” ($26)
- 100% Sauvignon Blanc
- Loire Valley, Sancerre
- Importers Fact Sheet