Too many years had passed since we last compared bottles of Sancerre Blanc (the last time was in June 2015), so we gathered fresh guest tasters and six entries for an outstanding night of racy, delicious whites.
While this appellation does produce small amounts of rosé and red wines, our focus here was on the more famous wines made from Sauvignon Blanc. Overall, these did not disappoint, showing plenty of energy and sense of place, with some offering excellent concentration and distinct character. While there was a clear winner, there was also a tie for third place, and all bottles received points. We all agreed that choosing favorites was particularly difficult with this set.
For the second month in a row, two bottles turned out to be the same wine (one was the winner!), and while none of us identified them in these blind tasting conditions, we did have some similar tasting notes for them. Another two bottles turned out to be made by the same producer, but separated by one vintage year.
First Place: Alphonse Mellot Sancerre La Moussiere 2020. Tasters found chalkiness and river rocks on the nose, along with wet bark, new earth, and white soil. Quieter, and not as distinct as some of the others, but fresh and vibrant. Ali was reminded of "late spring breeze", and Resa commented that, "I definitely don't drink enough Sancerre." Expansive on the palate, with great intensity, showing flavors of honeysuckle, ripe pears, and flowers. Has staying power, finishing with both a darker tone and a fresh celery note, then a wave of citrus. A little bit saline too. Andy R, Ali, and Resa's favorite of the night, with a total of 26 points. Andy's bottle. About $32.
Second Place: Chateau du Nozay Sancerre 2016. More yellow in color, with a nose leaning darker than the rest, and also a touch funky. Scents of toasted hazelnut, pistachio, dried leaves, apricot, dried thyme, and celery. David detected "a mild Gouda", while Andy R noted that "I want to cook with this." Ali found notions of "super-hot honey", and was reminded of Sauternes. A little more weight in the mouth compared to most others, with flavors of honey, parmesan cheese, white mushroom, butterscotch, and honeysuckle. With air this turned nutty and earthy, turning to cranberry and cinnamon, then warm pie spices. Salty on the finish. Lots of umami. Kristin was reminded of "a flat Champagne", and Resa didn't feel that it was typical for this region, saying it was a "San-sort-of." Kristin and Andy P's favorite, with a total of 19 points. Resa's bottle. About $37.
Third Place (tie): Alphonse Mellot Sancerre La Moussiere 2020. Scents of chalk, cornstarch, Bazooka bubble gum, pencil eraser, lemons, white grapefruit, orange blossom, and honeysuckle. A little leaner, even keeled. Shows purity. Ali noted that "it's like a whistle in the meadow." A lot more intensity on the palate than the nose, with a floral quality to go with the citrus oil and honeysuckle flavors. Almost oily in texture on the tongue, this had real palate presence. 13 points. Kristin's bottle. About $24.
Third Place (tie): Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes 2020. Bright, lemony nose, along with super-fresh white peaches, grapefruit, tangerine, crushed rocks, and mango. Vibrant. Andy P noted that "My mouth is watering smelling it." Tasters were reminded of limestone, sour apple Jolly Rancher, straw, and lime juice flavors. Very high, but pleasing acidity. Resa declared that "I want to keep drinking this", while Ali found "corn muffin mix on the finish." 13 points. Ali's bottle. About $27.
Alphonse Dolly Sancerre Cuvée Silex 2020. Intense citrus aromas, like lemon and limes, but also straw, celery, chives, tomato stems, and stewed plum. Ali was reminded of fresh cotton laundry. Great intensity on the palate, with flavors of juicy green apple and white vinegar, turning to a darker anise note on the finish. Almost searing acidity, which David loved, but Ali noted that "I'm almost salivating too much that I'm not tasting it." Ali also felt that it "finished like a Ricola." David's favorite. 10 points. David's bottle. About $33.
Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes 2019. Like coconuts or piña colada scents, plus rubber tire, white peaches, vanilla, and celery. Probably the least generous on the nose. Disappointingly lean in the mouth, this felt basic, but improved greatly with food. Had minerality to go with flavors of lemons and metal. Very high acidity. Ali felt that it was "a little bit like urine." Received 3 points from Andy P. Andy P's bottle. About $24.
Château Partarrieu Sauternes 2001. Orange/amber in color, with scents of lemons, apricots, wax, dried stone fruits, prune, and orange peel. David detected "an oil you would burn for light." Rubbery and nutty on the palate, suggesting flavors of burnt caramel and stone fruit. Would be good with a dried almond cookie. About $23/375ml.