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Sancerre in a blur, a rough guide to Sauvignon.

At the beginning of May I was invited to go on a little trip to Sancerre in the Loire Valley. Now before you start thinking that this means a jolly few days lounging around in the sun in France, it doesn’t. What it did involve was a ridiculous amount of time spent travelling from and to Huddersfield to spend 20 hours in Sancerre visiting the excellent Joseph Mellot winery. In those few hours I tasted 25 wines, visited 10 vineyards, walked up 3 very, very steep hills and travelled around in 1 oversized golf buggy. I consumed my own body weight in Crottin de Chavignol (the famous goat cheese of the region, good even when served airline style but in a gite) and learnt a surprising amount about the region and the wines that I didn’t know before. All in all it was worth the mileage especially because there were some very good wines.

Now in the world of wine Sauvignon Blanc is well known but not held in the same regard as Chardonnay or Riesling and this is very often down to it’s lack of ageing potential. That youthful vitality and upfront flavour might not be suited to the cellar but boy does it make for something quite delicious in the glass. What was interesting in the Loire was that each different region and indeed each different vineyard showed its own unique character, style and flavour. This got my tiny brain to thinking how good really well made Sauvignon Blanc is and so I decided to sacrifice my already dubious liver for the greater good and went in search of truly great Sauvignon from across the globe.

The first part was simple, I was in Sancerre and surrounded by great wine so that sorted out the French stuff but what of the rest of the world. Well the wines of Joseph Mellot (that was where we were) are represented here in Blighty by the same folk that look after Villa Maria from New Zealand and as we were driving back towards Paris we learned that two Villa Maria wines had been awarded trophies by the International Wine Challenge the night before. So as soon as I was safely ensconced in my shop I set about tasting a lot of Villa Maria wines and I must say that whilst they are a big name brand the quality is superb and they are so wonderfully typical of what made New Zealand famous in the first place. After this it was a matter of tasting/drinking a whole host of Sauvignon Blancs from around the world and there was a lot to enjoy.

Interestingly the wine that I think most shows off the talent of the slightly maligned Sauvignon Blanc grape was discovered by Ben not me, which makes me slightly jealous but also very happy with just how intuitive his palate is. The wine in question hails from Chile, a country which has a reputation for producing superb wine at very competitive prices. What happens though when they produce wines at similar prices to those of the Loire Valley and New Zealand, well the answer is quite simple, they create truly world class, beguiling and enchanting Sauvignon Blanc. The Aconcagua Costa Sauvignon Blanc from Errazuriz is one of those truly must try wines, even just smelling it you know you are in for a real treat for the senses. Now what is really lovely is that it doesn’t taste like the wines from the Loire or the wines from New Zealand. Rather it has what all great wines have, it has its own sense of place and character. It shares some of the mineral subtlety of the French but it also has a touch of the ‘right between the eyes kapow!’ of the Kiwis. All in all I am so happy with it that I have made it the centrepiece of my Sauvignon Blanc shrine.

Right then I have waffled on as to what terrific Sauvignon Blancs there are but here is the nitty gritty along with some price based incentives to get you to expand your Sauvignon horizons.

Buy any 6 Joseph Mellot wines and get a free bottle of their excellent Destinea wine. Either Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir Rose which sell for £10.99 each.

Joseph Mellot Coteaux du Giennois ‘Gaupiere’ 2012 £14.99
Joseph Mellot Reuilly ‘Les Millets’ 2013 £15.99
Joseph Mellot Quincy ‘le Rimonet’ 2013 £15.99
Joseph Mellot Menetou-Salon ‘les Thureaux’ 2013 £15.99
Joseph Mellot Pouilly Fume ‘le Chant des Vignes’ 2013 £16.99
Joseph Mellot Pouilly Fume ‘le Tronsec’ 2013 £18.99
Joseph Mellot Sancerre ‘la Chatellenie’ 2013 £19.99
Joseph Mellot Sancerre ‘les Vignes du Rocher’ 2011 £22.99
Joseph Mellot Sancerre ‘la Grand Chatellenie Cuvee Prestige’ 2011 £23.99
An astonishing wine, the wine is from one vineyard but it is divided in to three separate parts and aged in three different French oak barrels and then blended back together. The resulted wine is textured, unbelievably complex and yet retains wonderful acidity and poise.

Australia
Grant Burge Kraft Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2011 £14.99

New Zealand
Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Was £10.99 Now only £8.99
Winner of the Great Value Trophy for white wine between £7 & £12

Villa Maria ‘Cellar Selection’ Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Was £13.99 Now only £11.99
Winner of the Great Value Trophy for white wine under £15

Chile
Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Sauvignon Blanc 2013 £13.99
The bees knees!

South Africa
Lourensford Sauvignon Blanc 2013 £9.99
Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012 £19.99

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