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

2007 Philippe Raimbault Sancerre Apud Sariacum

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 8:22 PM

Sitting here in our cool warehouse at the beginning of January dressed in layers, I find it difficult to think of the nervy, mineral, pleasantly chilling virtues of Sancerre. However, I am reminded that it is Dungeness Crab season after all, not to mention that oysters have been tasting pretty darn good lately. And what is the perfect accompaniment to such fare? Well, Sancerre, of course! Even though my windshield was iced over this morning, the idea of some freshly picked crab or a dozen oysters along with a glass of brisk Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc all of a sudden sounds very attractive! I’m such an easy sell!


Vintage 2007 in the Loire vividly captures the electrical snap and brightly acid, limestone-inflected character that seduce many to the pleasures of Loire whites. While 2005 and 2006 were very good vintages in the Loire, they emphasized lushness, with rich, tropical notes across the board. But while 2007 in general provides wines with crackling, precise minerality, they certainly do not lack fruit – bright lime and succulent grapefruit flavors can be found all over the place.

Among the work of Sancerre growers, Philippe Raimbault’s Sancerre Apud Sariacum aptly sums up the best of Sancerre in 2007. Restrained and mineral driven, my notes include descriptors likecool, suave, elegant. On the nose and palate, it is all subtle lime and limestone with lithe texture and an overall sense of poise. Apud Sariacum refers to the fossilized stones littered throughout Raimbault’s vineyard that you can virtually taste. Mmm… even though I’m chilled to the bone at the moment, my mouth is watering for bivalves and Sauvignon Blanc. Forget that spritz of lemon, all you need is a gulp of Raimbault’s citrus-and-mineral goodness to enliven your shellfish!

With the price of many of the world’s celebrated white wines on the rise (not to mention the price of seafood!), it is refreshing to see many fine whites from the Loire remain sensibly priced, andRaimbault’s Sancerre is no exception at $22.49 per bottle, or $17.99 per bottle by the case. Don’t hesitate to stock up now, not only to weather crab season, but to take you into the spring and summer, when you will no doubt no less appreciate its refreshing charms!



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