Sancerre & Sauvignon – Wine & Spirits Magazine

Sancerre & Sauvignon


95 | Fournier Père & Fils | $45

2020 Sancerre Grande Cuvée La Chaudouillonne

This wine grows in the caillottes soils around Verdigny, northwest of the village of Sancerre. This 2020 is floral-first, leading with scents of apple blossom, hydrangeas and foxglove. Peek behind the flowers, though, and you find crystalline lemon fruit—the tart-and-sweet impression of dried candied lemon peel. Along its impressive length, that flavor coalesces towards lemongrass. Among a number of unusually floral 2020 Sancerres, this wine stood out for it structure, with acidity that rides into the finish, delightfully refreshing. David Milligan Selections, Ridgefield, CT

94 | Fournier Père & Fils | $55

2020 Sancerre Caillottes

A selection from vineyards with small white limestone caillottes under the vines; those stones reflect sunlight back on the bunches, which Fournier credits with hastening ripeness. Deeply savory, this sauvignon blanc integrates its pyrazines with citrus notes, producing something reminiscent of a savory lemon-and-rosemary jam, rich but not sweet. The wine has length, the flavors dancing from yellow daisies to pink cherry blossom. A firm and stony Sancerre, this is a wine to open alongside a peppery fish dish in a rich sauce. David Milligan Selections, Ridgefield, CT

93 | Fournier Père & Fils | $28

2020 Menetou-Salon Côtes de Morogues Blanc

Menetou-Salon has long played second fiddle to Sancerre, the appellation just to the west. Yet this wine, from the clay-rich soils in the Kimmeridgian hills of Morogues, harmonizes green florals and rich fruit in a way that manages to feel generous, yet restrained. The wine invites you to sit with it and think, rewarding patient tasters with blossoming lemon thyme, juicy pineapple fruit and silky lemon curd. The flavors come through as clearly on the fourth day open as they did on the first, precise and lasting, suggesting this wine will only improve with a few years in the cellar. David Milligan Selections, Ridgefield, CT

93 | Domaine Roger Neveu | $29

2020 Sancerre Côtes des Embouffants

This wine grows on a steep, south-facing hillside where, in 2020, it held its acidity well, sustaining a tense structure as well as evocative floral aromas, like hydrangeas in bloom. Some time with air exposes a tree-bark scent to accompany that perfume. Over the course of a few days, the aromas extend further into the finish, pointing up the juicy core of fruit, like a perfectly ripe pear, eager to get out of its own skin, the flesh almost leaping into your mouth. Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA

93 | Domaine Pellé | $30

2019 Menetou-Salon Morogues Le Carroir

Directly east of Menetou-Salon, the village of Morogues has a high proportion of Kimmeridgian limestone. But Paul-Henry Pellé’s parcel grows in silex soils, the vines planted in 1976. In the heat of 2019, those vines produced an opulent, strikingly golden white, with faint notes of Cognac spice and brandied cherry, its nutty leesiness fed through a large-oak-cask amplifier. The weight and richness feels Old World, pre–climate change, before richness was a viticultural hazard. Sit with it and let the flavorful echoes resonate: Lemon jam with clove and ginger, spiced apples slathered in butter. Try it with Pink Lady apples, or a Honeycrisp tarte tatin. Polaner, Mount Kisco, NY

92 | J. de Villebois | $45

2018 Pouilly-Fumé Marnes Kimméridgiennes

The soils in which this wine grows seem to have imbued it with a savory breadth, revealed in notes of almond skin and cedar. Its decadent, crumbly-rich texture reminded one taster of shortbread, though its fleshy dragonfruit flavors are neatened up by a piercing acidity. Keep it cold to help manage the alcohol, and serve it next to mole negroVineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL

92 | J. de Villebois | $66

2020 Sancerre Les Bouffants

This wine grows on the eastern end of a steep limestone hillside; the western end of the hill, on the other side of Chavignol, is the famed Les Monts Damnés. This bottling shows its pedigree in the balance of its fresh, peppy acidity and grassy-green savor. There's layers of fruit—pear, guava and Honeycrisp apple—strong enough to stand up to a pork and ginger stir-fry. Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL

91 | Domaine des Berthiers | $34

2020 Pouilly-Fumé Saint Andelain

This ripe Pouilly-Fumé has an icy edge to it, its rich lemon-tart flavors lined by a red fruit blush of pomegranate. There's a progression to it, as the fruit gets darker and darker while the wine holds onto its high-toned grassy flavors. Its cool clarity called to mind a moonlit winter night, bright enough to walk through the woods without a flashlight, the moonlight reflecting off the snow. Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL

91 | Domaine des Berthiers | $40

2019 Pouilly-Fumé Cuvée d'Eve

Smoky mineral reduction and leesiness structure this wine, holding your attention through to the finish: clean orchard fruit with some delicate florals and winter spice. It's hearty wine, to be taken from the cellar during dark winter days to sate a taste for summer. Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL

91 | J. de Villebois | $18

2020 Touraine Sauvignon Blanc

Zippy flavors of green apple and passion fruit play on top of a firm base of spice, alcohol and minerality. Floral citrus accents are a nice bonus for a wine at this price, and a slight salinity makes this punch above its weight class. Pour it with whole shrimp fried in chile-laced oil. Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL

91 | J. de Villebois | $26

2020 Quincy

Quincy's vineyards are planted in vast fields, flatlands formerly devoted to grain. This wine’s grassiness comes up behind rich lemon flavors to keep it from outright simplicity—an easygoing country pleasure for a crowd gathered over a cheese and charcuterie board. Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL

91 | J. de Villebois | $53

2020 Sancerre Les Silex

This is a modern Sancerre, the fruit so ripe, and the acidity textured like juicy pineapple. That might lead you to expect the flavors to go tropical, but they stay entirely in white-fleshed pear and blossoming orchards. It's certainly not lean, but its lightning-rod acidity certainly comes from Sancerre. Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL

91 | Domaine Denizot | $45

2018 Sancerre Damocles Côte de l'Epée

This is rich, round and ambitious Sancerre from Thibauld and Jennifer Denizot, its textures amplified by the time it spent in a mix of 600L demi-muids and 350L cigare barrels (elongated to maximize lees contact). Their 2018 is slightly tannic, with rich lemon and molasses flavors. Its aromas kept reminding me of chardonnay, but there was no mistaking the yellow fruit and linear acidity of sauvignon, finishing here on vanilla and Marcona-almond richness. Schatzi Wines, Milan, NY

91 | Fournier Père & Fils | $55

2020 Sancerre Silex

Here's an elegant Sancerre, structuring itself around a firm through line of acidity. There's yellowish fruit to be had, but this is more about its chalky minerality, its quiet staying power coasting along with impressive length. David Milligan Selections, Ridgefield, CT

91 | Domaine Pellé | $30

2020 Menetou-Salon Morogues Vignes de Ratier

This is a weighty white from Henry Pellé's 12-acre plot in Morogues, the vines planted in 20 inches of topsoil over the Kimmeridgian marl bedrock. Its flavors approach apple cider spiced with vanilla, clove and cinnamon. The wine seems dark and brooding up front, then its acidity zips down the center and unfurls the rest of the flavors: floral lemon and toffee. That acidity has plenty of energy to age, so best to give this wine a few more years to settle into itself and show more detail. Polaner, Mount Kisco, NY

91 | Domaine Tinel-Blondelet | $33

2020 Pouilly-Fumé Genetin

There's something dramatic and campy about this ripe Pouilly-Fumé, as its explosion of flavors reminded me of rolling out a red carpet from a limo door, or a ballgown settling down after a waltz. Indeed, our panel found the finish to be the most exciting part about the wine, hiding passion fruit and cherimoya flavors behind its golden aromas. Bring it to dim sum to capitalize on its versatile balance of ripeness and acidity alongside the full spread. Kysela Père et Fils, Winchester, VA

90 | J. de Villebois | $21

2020 Touraine Vieilles Vignes Sauvignon Blanc

Pineapple flavors are given crunch by the variety's green notes—as if pineapple tops made it into your smoothie for a rosemary-like kick. That spice makes the wine lively, though rich, and it holds that note for a pretty long time. Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL

90 | J. de Villebois | $66

2020 Sancerre Les Monts Damnés

Replete with shifting flavors, this shows progression along its substantial length, bright, grassy citrus notes mellowing out to a red-tinged apple finish, all flecked by minty pyrazines. Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL

90 | Fournier Père & Fils | $18

2020 Vin de France Sauvignon Blanc

Lemony and green at first, this opens with air into a firm, tightly-packed tropically-inflected sauvignon blanc. It balances the variety’s proclivity for fruit (golden papaya and pineapple) with enough greenness (banana leaf) to lend it a practiced ease. David Milligan Selections, Ridgefield, CT

90 | Fournier Père & Fils | $45

2019 Pouilly-Fumé Grande Cuvée

The aromas of this wine are pineapple-sweet and coconut-rich, even as the austerity of the acidity gives the wine a humming energy, like an electrical transformer. That stored energy of the vintage focuses the wine on lemon, spice and minerality. Youthfully vibrant, this could develop with a year or two of bottle age. David Milligan Selections, Ridgefield, CT

90 | Fournier Père & Fils | $34

2020 Sancerre Les Vignes au Moulin

This wine is floral, with a chewy texture and lean structure, and some sweetness in the finish that might be tamed next to a spicy dish. The yellow fruit flavors lack detail, but are charming all the same, like a shelter mutt who's a very good boy. David Milligan Selections, Ridgefield, CT

90 | Fournier Père & Fils | $65

2020 Sancerre Clos du Roc

With its brash opening of prickly acidity, this wine’s greenness ranges from peppercorn to marijuana, but there's some detail behind the wall of green, finishing on delicate underripe pear. Show this sauvignon who's boss with a thick Tuscan white bean stew, flavorful and rich, and let the two clash, like Godzilla and Mothra. David Milligan Selections, Ridgefield, CT

90 | Fournier Père & Fils | $65

2020 Sancerre Les Bouffants

Firm and grassy, this wine's flavors might remind you of imported tropical fruit, picked before it was completely ripe—a Sancerre caught between green and tropically rich. The wine has good length; it's a burly, sun-ripened wine, but it holds its Old-World character nonetheless, with delicate florals in the finish. David Milligan Selections, Ridgefield, CT

Corey Warren is the Tastings Coordinator for the New York office.

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