The Ultimate Sancerre Returns!

The Ultimate Sancerre Returns!

Posted on Jun, 30. 2011 by

Categories: Wine

If you’ve been around for a few years, you’ll surely recognize this bottle. Cherrier Sancerre has become for us, how shall I put this, an annual go-to no-brainer. Every year, the rep marches in with the newest vintage, and every year, this wine somehow continues to get better and better. Forget the ebb and flow of climate, growing seasons, rain…none of that seems to matter to this stalwart perennial. Whatever Francois and Jean-Marie are doing, it’s working, because they keep stepping it up without ever abandoning the core style that makes it great, classic Sancerre (what I mean to say is that they aren’t making it “better” by oaking it into being softer, etc.)

So I tasted the 2010 a few weeks back, and was expectedly enthralled. I told the rep I’d like to do an email offer, and put it my queue. A few days later, I get a call from him. “It’s an emergency!”, he prefaces the phone call with. As I’m sitting there wondering how I’m going to come up with his bail money, he continues: “Arrowine just bought 178 of our 190 remaining cases of Cherrier!” Ah, an emergency. When Arrowine goes that deep, you know it’s serious business. Not willing to take any chances, I bought all that he had left that wasn’t allocated. We ended up with around 8 cases, and after what people have picked through already at the Guild, I’d say we have 6 left. We may be able to source more later in July, but right now, we’re going to allocate up to 6 bottles per member, on a first-come-first-served basis.

Also, on a side note, I’d just like to say that we went through some of this at Will & Lisa’s farm party a few weeks ago (chilled down in a baby pool filled with ice next to the turkey hut, as is the norm out there), and it was as perfect in its role as party wine as it is as a classic, contemplative gem.

Here are my tasting notes from the 2008—and like I said above, the style hasn’t changed, the wine has just gotten inexplicably better.

The Cherriers have been making classic Sauvignon Blanc near Verdigny since 1927 (the brothers Francois and Jean-Marie are third-generation winegrowers here), and their wines have long been a no-brainer for me. I still have a bottle or two of the ’06 Blanc in my cellar, and it’s aging nicely…but the 2008 Blanc is something else entirely. Often, classically-styled Sancerres are offputting for a lot of people, because they don’t really have any ripeness up front, they lack a soft approachableness (yes, I just made up that word) when young, and they’re often built for food pairing. And while Cherrier does make classic, pure Sauv Blanc, it’s always had a more approachable face to it than many others at this age. The 2008 Blanc, though, has been consistently slaying me with its mix of classic Loire flint and new-world-ey plush attractiveness. It’s got bright, pleasant acid, but it’s never too much—always walking that knife’s edge between bracing and soft. But it’s still Cherrier—still pure Sauv Blanc, with all of the haunting soul, the wet chalk and fresh air and lemons, without being haughty or unapproachable. It’s pristine and beautiful; the fact that Dionysos has it on (deep) discount is even more reason to love it. Sancerre this cheap is rare; great Sancerre at this price is but a myth. Here’s your Sasquatch:

Francois et Jean-Marie Cherrier Sancerre Blanc “Les Chailloux” Cuvee Vielles Vignes
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $14.30 • Premier Cru: $14.95 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $22.00
Buy Now!

(P.S. – I tried that last 2006 from my cellar a couple months back, and it had aged quite gracefully. A bit calmer, a bit more sophisticated and feminine, but still unmistakeably Cherrier. If you have the capacity and the patience, I recommend hiding a few bottles for 5 years.)

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