What does Sancerre wine taste of? Ask Decanter

What is Sancerre wine, and how does it taste?

Sancerre is an appellation in the Upper Loire Valley, France, producing mostly white wines, made from Sauvignon Blanc, and also some reds from Pinot Noir.

‘In the UK, Sancerre is the Loire’s most ubiquitous wine,’ said Jim Budd, DWWA regional chair for the Loire, in the September 2016 issue of Decanter.

‘Like Chablis, its relatively close neighbour, you can expect to find Sancerre listed on many UK restaurant wine lists.’

Climate and soils

The climate is cool continental, so the grapes have high acidity and crisp flavours.

‘There are three different types of soil in the Sancerre region – caillottes (pure limestone), terres blanches (clay limestone) and silex (flint),’ said Budd.

‘The caillottes and terres blanches each account for 40%.’

Sancerre wine flavours

Sancerre white wines have refreshing flavours including lemon, lime, elderflower and some grassy notes. You can also detect flint in some examples.

According to Decanter‘s Tasting notes decoded, ‘Flint, flinty or even gunflint are terms used to describe the minerality note that is found in dry, austere white wines, notably Chablis and Sancerre.’

Although Chablis is made from Chardonnay in Burgundy, this mineral character is found in both wines.

Andrew Jefford called Sancerre and Chablis ‘climate-and-soil twins, which just happen to find themselves growing different grape varieties.’ 

Ageing

‘You can enjoy Sancerre when it’s young and fresh, but if you buy a top Sancerre you will get additional complexity with 10 or 15 years in the cellar that you couldn’t find in other Sauvignon Blancs,’ said Budd.

Sancerre red wines

Sancerre chiefly produced red wine from Pinot Noir and Gamay, until the arrival of phylloxera in the second half of the 19th century.

Today, Sauvignon Blanc now accounts for approximately 80% of production, with Pinot Noir just 20%.

But, they are worth seeking out, as ‘an increasing number of Sancerre producers are making serious, weighty reds that can stand shoulder to shoulder with top cru Burgundy’, said Decanter’s Tina Gellie in 2015. 

White Sancerre wines to try


See also: Loire vs Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – Tasting the difference