Me: “So, what sort of white wines do you like to drink?”

Customer: “I love Sancerre!”

Me: “Ah, so you like Sauvignon Blanc.”

Customer: “Oh no, I don’t like Sauvignon Blanc.”

I have had this conversation with customers many times over the years. I don’t wish to embarrass anyone so I try to gently and respectfully explain that Sancerre is made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. I’ve thought a lot about such conversations and have concluded that the reason why some people might not associate Sauvignon Blanc with Sancerre is that when Sancerre is made well, the super-assertive and super-pungent green flavors of Sauvignon Blanc that prevail out in the marketplace are absent. I for one get why someone would love Sancerre, but be less than thrilled with a sharply herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc.




I took a bottle of the 2015 Sancerre Les Godons from Philippe Raimbault home the other day. It also arrived on the most recent container, along with the many Bordeaux that Pete has recently written about. At my local market, I saw that they had large shrimp on sale, so I planned a shrimp and Sancerre match-up. After poring over a dozen cookbooks, I settled on going without a recipe. Essentially what I made was shrimp Scampi. At first, I sautéed shallots, instead of garlic, in olive oil left over from a jar of Chevoo Smoked Sea Salt and Rosemary goat cheese – waste not, want not. Then to the shrimp I added wine, lemon juice and stock. At the end, I tossed in fresh tarragon and a generous knob of butter. Piping hot out of a cast iron pan, I indulged on the shrimp which was made even more delicious by the lusciousness of the 2015 Sancerre Les Godons.




The 2015 Les Godons exhibits the sweet citrusy flavors of ruby red grapefruit. The citrus tang is there without any hint of harsh acidity. The 2015 vintage was looked upon favorably in Sancerre, but it was lower yielding than the bountiful 2014 vintage. 2015 produced for many a riper-styled wine, but Philippe Raimbault does not acidify his wines, so what you get in the 2015 Les Godons is what nature provided.




Les Godons is a vineyard uniquely shaped in a semi-circle above the village of Sury-En-Vaux. There is a pen and ink illustration of the vineyard on the label, so you can see how steep the slopes are. The vineyard is south-facing, so exposure to the sun is maximized. In some years there is a distinct tropicality to the Les Godons that I find irresistible. I would have thought in a warm vintage like 2015 that quality would dominate, but I found the 2015 to be rather citrus driven; pamplemousse, pomelo and sweet orange. Fragrant and lush, sipping this one on its own is perfectly acceptable and encouraged too.




Last Saturday The Wine House staff dined at Boulevard for our Post-Holiday party. Everything was great – the food, the wine, the company! In my opinion, Boulevard is one of San Francisco’s best restaurants – it’s a classic. The food is impeccable, the service is attentive and seamless, and the atmosphere is welcoming and warm. For our first course, we selected a couple of orders of Foie Gras to share. We drank 1988 De Fargues with it. Divine! The flavor sensors in my brain exploded! Of course, this being TWH Post-Holiday dinner, there was a second bottle of 1988 De Fargues because that’s how we roll. We love Sauternes and enjoy drinking it throughout a meal. There was also White & Red Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne too, but what a luxury it was to have a glass of Sauternes to taste with each course. Thank you Christian, Mrs. Moore, Mr. B, Chris, Pete, Mrs. Netzer and David for a memorable evening! -Anya Balistreri

Classic Sancerre: 2012 Apud Sariacum from Raimbault

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 5:30 PM

A second vintage of Philippe Raimbault’s Sancerre Apud Sariacum has arrived at TWH after a lengthy absence while monopolizing a spot on a very popular, wine-centric Los Angeles restaurant list. This L.A. restaurant is known for having an innovative wine-by-the-glass program, rotating in new items every few months or so.  Raimbault’s Sancerre Apud Sariacum remained on this list for nearly 3 years! All of our stock went to fulfill their orders.  When the sommelier called to tell us he was finally going to take the wine off the list in order to keep intact the integrity of their changing list, it was clear he did so reluctantly – probably because his customers were going to put up a stink for not having their beloved Apud Sariacum to enjoy by the glass! A true testament to the quality of the wine and to the wide range of palates that enjoy it. 

 

Phillippe Raimbault assembles his Sancerre Apud Sariacum from eight tiny parcels grown on steep slopes surrounding the picturesque village of Sury en Vaux, which up until the 12th century was known as Apud Sariacum. The soil here is part of a geological stratum formed during the second era of the Jurassic period. Fossils of sea creatures dating back 130 million years can be found in these vineyards. Phillippe has an impressive collection of these fossils which he proudly displays at his tasting room. These ancient soils really drive home the idea that dirt does matter and as such, Sauvignon Blanc grown along the steep slopes of Loire Valley’s Sancerre region does demonstrate a special quality of depth, weight and, yes, minerality.

 

 

The name recognition for Sancerre is far reaching and evokes a certain sophistication among wine drinkers. Even people who say they dislike Sauvignon Blanc will ask for Sancerre at our store. I chalk this up to the fact that most Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t share the verve and citrusy bite that Sancerre shows off in the glass. Grassy, yes, but not assertive or too pungent, just like the 2012 Sancerre Apud Sariacum which is chock full of fragrant citrus, juicy green melon, ending with a nervy, vibrant finish. Refreshing and offering something more than just a crisp drink. The 2012 Sancerre Apud Sariacum is a textbook, classic Sancerre!

 

Raimbault’s wife Lynne, who is a London transplant, runs a charming shop and wine bar selling Philippe’s wines and local products in town called Les Fossiles. Lynne visited TWH this past November. Regrettably, I was not at the store that day, but all the guys raved about her outgoing personality and easy charm.

So get this … TWH is moving in about a week and I’m going to Disneyland! I am abandoning my comrades to take a very short sojourn this weekend to the happiest place on earth. It probably wasn’t the best timing on my part, but when is it ever? I’ll be back soon enough, hopefully with plenty of stories to share, and ready to help move TWH into its new home. – Anya Balistreri

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