Vine Talk: Enjoying the world's best sauvignon blancs

Tue Jul 13, 2010 6:07am EDT
 
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(Edward Deitch is an award-winning wine columnist based in the United States. He created amd wrote a weekly column for eight years on MSNBC.com and in 2010 launched a wine blog, www.vint-ed.com. He also serves on tasting panels for Wine & Spirits Magazine. The opinions expressed are his own.)

By Edward Deitch

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Sancerre is arguably the most well known white wine of France's Loire Valley, the benchmark sauvignon blanc appellation by which other examples of the variety in France - and throughout the world - are judged.

New Zealand has made a splash in the last decade or so with its racy, citrusy sauvignons; Chile is heavily promoting similar, slightly de-tuned renditions; California is exploding with sauvignon offerings that range from steroidal, oak-infused wines made in a plump chardonnay style, to lean, crisp wines that find their inspiration more in the sauvignons of the Loire.

And that just begins to describe the sauvignon blanc landscape.

But none of them quite approach the wines of the Loire, which are almost always made without oak.

So it was with a good deal of anticipation that I recently attended a superb dinner called "Sancerre and Friends," the friends being the nearby appellations of Pouilly-Fume, Quincy, Menetou-Salon and Reuilly in the so-called Center Loire, as well as the larger Touraine appellation to the west.

The wines are known for their distinctive minerality, a product of the soils in which the grapes grow (primarily chalk and flint for Sancerre, limestone, flint and clay for Pouilly-Fume, for example).

This gives them a signature, an originality, that is achieved nowhere else.   Continued...

 
<p>Undated image shows the rocky soils of Sancerre, a top area for sauvignon blanc in France's Loire Valley. REUTERS/Edward Deitch</p>