Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Red Sancerre: Delightful Budget-Friendly Pinot Noir

Most of us know Sancerre to be perhaps the best region in the world to grow sauvignon blanc. With soil types ranging from white chalk to gravelly limestone, and vineyard elevations up to 1,300 feet, the grapes retain a great deal of acidity and mineral components. To balance that acid, the short, hot summer allows enough sugar formation to produce wines that also exhibit beautiful, perfumed aromas and flavors. Furthermore, the use of oak is very limited, and malolactic fermentation rarely is allowed to take place.

What you may not know is the region also producers pinot noir that consistently delivers outstanding quality for low prices. Though only about 20% of Sancerre's grape production is pinot noir, both the red and rose wines are well worth seeking out. While Sancerre lacks the cachet and indeed, the history of producing world class pinot noir that Burgundy has in spades, the region's wines are wonderfully accessible, often exhibiting aromas of rose petal, cherry, wild raspberry, and peppery spice.

A few days ago my friend Rory brought over a bottle of this wonderful Sancerre rouge to share. He works at The Friendly Vine, in Forest Grove and not coincidentally picked up this bottle while at work .At $21, the price point is very reasonable, especially considering the following facts; it's pinot noir, it's from France, and it's from a region currently in vogue.

2010 Les Hospices Sancerre Rouge:
We unscrewed the cap and poured some glasses. After the initial reductive funk blew off, the bouquet delighted us with zingy raspberry and pepper notes, hints of dusty gravel, and a subtle orange-peel aroma. A sip or two brought out bright red fruit mingling with herbs and forest floor/mushroom flavors. I enjoyed the mineral component on the palate because it helped create a wonderful textural sensation. The finish was brisk and racy, led by the acidity, and had a nice gentle tapering effect.

For $21, this is a cool climate, acid-loving, pinot fan's wine. I've only seen it at The Friendly Vine, so I'd recommend contacting them if you want a bottle or two. If you put it aside for a few years, I suspect the wine will get a bit better but it's not one designed for long term cellaring. As far as I can tell, it's a negotiant brand produced exclusively for Bronco Wine Company's Antares division. Yes, the same Bronco responsible for million of gallons of plonk. Just goes to show you!

Importer: Vinum Importing
Producer: Pierre Chainier for Bronco/Antares Wine Co.

Beau Carufel

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