Talk to me about Sancerre

Sancerre has really been hitting the sweet spot for me lately, but I don’t know much about the region or its producers. Was looking for some suggestions regarding the best traditional, age worthy producers, as well as some favorite values. Thanks!

I am no expert but have had a number of good bottles from Gerard Boulay including a 07 Mont Dammes this past weekend that was nearly sublime.

In all things Loire (and Burgundy, and Germany, but especially Loire) I start with Lyle:

I should add that my personal favorite, based on my limited experience, is Lucien Crochet.

M @ r k

Here are ones that I’ve liked (the best first). I’m also no expert, these were gifts or chosen more or less at random:

Philippe Raimbault Apud Sariacum
Sancerre 2011

La Porte du Caillou
Sancerre 2010
Henri Bourgeois

Sancerre 2007
Cuvée des Moulins Bâles
Celestin Blondeau

Domaine de la Perrière Sancerre 2008
Guy Saget Estates

Sancerre 2007
Noël et Jean-Luc Raimbault (Loire)

I don’t know much about Sancerre either but I agree with Scott Silton in that the Boulay Mont Damnes is excellent.

Either of the Cotats, followed by Thomas Labaille would be my recommendation. However when it comes to ageability - I’m sorry to say you need to beware of premox here too. Haven’t had any premoxed Cotats (though I don’t cellar many) but a half case of 2002 Thomas Labaille had 3 of the 6 bottles oxidized and 3 beautifully pristine a few years ago.

Cotat, either Pascal or Francois.

Unlike Jay, I’ve had a couple of premoxed Cotats, but when not premoxed they’re my preferred Sancerre.

I’ve enjoyed an incredible Edmond Vatan Clos la Neore or three in the past…

Absolute +1 on the Cotats. Great stuff.

The Cotats and Vatan are supposedly the class of the region and are all ageworthy. They need some time to open.

I’ve found that a lot of the rest are overpriced and rather dull.

Lucien Crochet Le Cul de Beaujeu can be very good.

My absolute favorite appellation for Sauvignon Blanc and its a staple in my cellar.

There are several excellent producers and its an appellation well worth exploring.

2010 is a great vintage and you can still find some in the marketplace.

Paul Thomas
Sylvain Bailey

I’m not as high on the 2010 vintage as Rob (although in fairness, it is probably more “classic” than 2011; in practical terms, that meant that, for example, on release Boulay’s line-up was so acidic as to be undrinkable).

I do think you need to stratify things a bit by price (and presumably quality). For example, I like both Crochet & Thomas Labaille a lot, but wouldn’t compare either to someone like Boulay or Cotat.

In terms of current releases, the 2011 Boulay Mont Damnes is one serious white for around $35 a bottle. Crochet Croix du Roy should be findable in the mid-20’s, with their Le Chene bottling in the upper 20’s, but I haven’t tried either yet.

I also liked Boulay’s La Cote and Comtesse bottlings, although admittedly the Comtesse starts to get a little pricy.

  1. Henri Bourgeois one of the biggest but IMO also one of the best does a big range of Domaine and Negociant Sancerres [white, rose and red] all of which are good to excellent. Some see a little wood, others just steel but their extensive website will tell you more. We like their inexpensive Les Baronnes but their La Bourgeoise, Le MD, Jadis and the d’Antan [amongst several others] all have extra dimensions – and of course price although IMO worth it.

If you are ever in Sancerre make the very short journey to Chavignol just outside where you will find the fine Henri Bourgeois centre and tasting facility where all these wines including aged ones can be sampled prior to purchase. And just down the hill is their Brasserie and separate gourmet restaurant in their boutique hotel La Cote des Monts Damnes.

  1. Across the road from the hotel is Thomas Labaille who also do whites [3] as I recall, rose and red and we buy their inexpensive l’Authentique and their somehat more expensive Les Aristides VV which is an excellent wine and still inexpensive – at least at the cellar door. You can taste and buy those and the others on site. IIRC there is also a special cuvee that is made for the US market, the Cuvee Buster, which should be worth looking out for. I believe it is a Dressner wine.

  2. Around the corner from Labaille is Francois Cotat’s facility but one needs an appointment to see him. I usually buy his wines elsewhere in the Loire. His cousin Pascal’s facility is in Sancerre. I like and cellar both cousins’ wines particularly La Grande Cote [3 from Francois: La Grande Cote, Les Monts Damnes and Les Culs de Beaujeu and 2 from Pascal: La Grande Cote, Les Monts Damnes] – but these are amongst the least typical Sancerres we buy and are also amongst the most expensive but have a distinctive and special charm.

  3. Edmond Vatan’s Clos La Neore is a splendid wine [made since 2008 by daughter Anne, wife of Nady Foucault of Rougeard] but difficult to get hold of even in the Loire [the last one I bought was at Chidaine’s shop La Cave Insolite in Montlouis] since most seems to be allocated to the USA. Also expensive but certainly a class act.

  4. Dagueneau’s Monts Damnes Sancerre is apparently [I haven’t had it] or should I say unsurprisingly good but, like his Pouillys, very expensive and the only Dagueneaus I buy today are his basic Blanc Fume de Pouilly - and the occasional Pur Sang or a Buisson Renard and if feeling particularly indulgent the Silex.

  5. There are other producers in Chavignol and many are worth tasting but the first 2 above are the ones we buy from every year in Chavignol when we are there in July/August.

  6. In Sancerre itself we buy direct from Alphonse Mellot’s retail outlet just down from the square although less than we used to because his prices, along with success, have risen steeply. The basic white La Moussiere is good but it was the Cuvee Edmond that held the most interest for us although his big reds like Generation XIX [there is a white version of this too] and En Grands Champs are also very good if quite expensive wines.

  7. Also in Sancerre, a short walk though the square and the down the other side is the Vacheron cellar and they too have excellent wines whites in particular like their Les Romains although their Belle Dame red is very tasty too. Their range has become rather expensive too but worth trying in order to get a handle on Sancerre as a whole.

  8. There are many other excellent producers from whom we buy occasionally but our ‘house’ white Sancerre is Andre Dezat’s wine. They make pretty good rose and red wines too and a decent Pouilly but their white Sancerre is particularly good value.

Another vote for the Cotat cousins. A second recommendation for Alphonse Mellot La Moussiere. (I haven’t had the Cuvee Edmond.) From Lucien Crochet I particularly like “Le Chene.” Picked up a Sancerre from Hippolyte Reverdy last night but don’t have as much experience with this producer as with the Cotats.

Good recs here. I would add La Poussie as a mid to low $20s producer that is very good.

As far as age-worthiness I think this ground has been covered many the time here and there are 2 fairly distinct camps. Some don’t think it’s worth it to age SB and others do. I fall into the former camp and have rarely had Sancerre (or SB really from anywhere perhaps other than Bordeaux) that I thought was better after 5+ years in the bottle than it was at 2- years in the bottle. That’s just a personal opinion thing and your mileage may vary.

re aging: thanks to a friend I’ve had some pretty old bottles of both Cotats and they can age beautifully. But as mentioned, one has to beware premox these days…

+1 to all recommending the Cotat wines, pretty much always great and can be absolutely brilliant. I’ll also second Crochet, the “La Croix” is a nice value in Sancerre, as is the “La Chene” for just a bit more. I’ve quite enjoyed the “Clos de Chaudenay” from Daulny too.

My go-to Sancerre is Salvard Unique @ around $13. Went through a half case last summer.

Has anyone tried Dagueneau’s (father or son) Monts Damnes?