Among the many appellations in the Loire Valley, the one most famous for its whites is Sancerre. The mention of Sancerre brings to mind images of the summer, of refreshment, and of clarity.
Located in the eastern Loire, Sancerre is dominated by chalky limestone soils, and although red wines are also produced in this area, they are almost never seen outside of France.
The Showdown was very close, with a single point separating the top 2 finishers, and for the second time in row, a guest taster was the night's winner.
Tasters were generally happy about how distinctive each wine was, and were surprised by the complexity of these whites.
First Place: Domaine Fournier Sancerre Grande Cuvee Vieilles Vignes 2002. Eliciting comments like "smells like pee" (Ali) and "burning hair follicle" (Andy), this wine's nose also featured aluminum, caramel, green apples, and fresh herbs. Kristin was reminded of "burnt gingerbread cookie". Thick, nearly unctuous, and tangy, with flavors of tangerine, red grapefruit, smoke, and peaches. Andy decided that "it came to party", and "it gets along with everybody". Overall, a complex wine, receiving votes from everyone, for a total of 22 points. Gilles' bottle. Also the most expensive of the night, at about $27.
Second Place: Domaine Cherrier et Fils Sancerre 2003. Showing aromas of vanilla, smoke, grapefruit, grass, "B.O." (Gilles), and "barnyard hay" (Ali). On the palate, tasters noted lime, flowers (primarily freesia), grass, passion fruit, and papaya. Round, lingering, and smooth, with Ali suggesting "like it was dancing". Ends with a tropical fruit note. David felt it was reminiscent of "a beautiful lady", and Andy added, "she owns the room". Received 21 points. Kristin's bottle. About $18.
Third Place: Les Champs Clos Sancerre 2004. Having the darkest profile of the night, this bottle exhibited aromas of feet, wool, smoke, dark earth, honey, butter, and lemon. Thick in the mouth, and tasting of oranges, lemon, red apples, smoke, clover honey, dark spices, herbs de Provence, and cranberries. Not as much minerality as the others. Andy was "kind of shocked that it's a white". 4 points. Andy's bottle. About $16.
Roger Champault Sancerre Les Pierris 2003. Bright, like "sunshine in a glass" (Andy), and smelling of bubble gum, fresh cut grass, citrus, vanilla, and daisy. Gilles said that it "smells alive", while Kristin decided it was "like a meadow". Thin in texture, and nearly watery. Tasters found that it was pleasant and quenching, with bell pepper flavors, but not a great deal to appreciate compared to the others. Neutral finish. David felt it was "not a wine to contemplate", and would be "perfect for a summer party, if it's cheap". Later, he added, "enjoyable, but it's a one night stand". 3 points. David's bottle. About $20.
Guy Saget Sancerre Selection Premiere 2004. Aromatically like dirty sponge, crushed rocks, limes, and lemons. Gilles was reminded of "dog poop in the spring", while Ali thought it was "completely unbalanced" and "terrible". Moderately thick in the mouth. Tasting of blue cheese, citrus, and caramel, with a sour note. Finishes tart, like "a lemon sour" (Kristin). Andy suggested "an autumnal feel", and Ali felt it was "confused". No points. Ali's bottle. About $16.