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Superior Sancerre

Northside Staff
Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Dana Malley, Jason Wentworth, Jay Reed, Travis Mordus

Given the surging popularity of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in recent years, it’s possible to forget that Sauvignon’s home base is France. This popular white variety most likely has its origins in the Bordeaux region. There, it is typically blended with Semillon and Muscadelle to create wines ranging from dry to intensely sweet.

To find a critical mass of dry wine made from one hundred percent Sauvignon Blanc, one must travel north to the Loire River valley. Here, the two best known French Sauvignon-based wines are produced: Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. These crisp, aromatic wines are a model for much of the Sauvignon Blanc hailing from the New World.

The staff at Northside Wine and spirits recently blind tasted a lineup of 23 Sauvignon Blanc wines from the Loire Valley priced $25 or less. In addition to Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, the selection included bottles from less renowned areas such as Quincy and the Coteaux de Giennois.

The wines were generally good examples of their type, exhibiting the typical blend of citrus and pleasant herbaceous character found in many Sauvignon Blancs. Two vintages were represented, 2009 and 2010. The tasters strongly preferred 2010, with all of the wines from 2009 falling at the bottom of the group’s ranking. 2010 is considered the more ”classic” vintage for these wines; the 2009s lacked freshness and acidity, and in some cases were already showing signs of oxidation.

The staff’s first place pick was the Domaine des Vieux Pruniers 2010 Sancerre($20). This juicy wine has a fresh, clean quality and offers hints of the grapefruit character more often associated with New Zealand Sauvignon. The wine is very well balanced, its brisk acidity balanced with richly flavored fruit. It was fermented and aged on its lees in stainless steel tanks, so there are no oak nuances to interfere with the wine’s pure, crisp fruit.

Try this wine with an aged goats milk cheese and you will discover one of the world’s best cheese and wine pairings! It will also pair well with most seafood preparations, and would make an excellent foil for the spicy character of many Indian and Thai dishes.

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