No Sancerre – how do we cope?

Certain wines are becoming harder to get due to the ever changing climate issues. Climate and weather has been a challenge to the industry and here are a few examples of wine regions that have been hit hard by disasters recently: Burgundy and Champagne have had back to back years with hail and frosts destroying crops; Oregon has had fires wiping out vineyards and tainting many others with smoke; Sancerre has had issues with both frost and mildew destroying between 50-70% of grapes in recent vintages; and Napa and Sonoma are dealing with fires, to some extent, frequently in recent vintages. With the scarcity this causes, it is my mission to find substitutes that will tide us all over until we can get our favorites back. Who knows, this may be a silver lining and we might discover some new favorites along the way!

The region that we are looking at today is Sancerre. This appellation is known for making some of, if not the best Sauvignon Blanc wines in the world. It provides everything you want in a Sauv Blanc with its citrusy nose, mineral finish, and tart acidity. For fans of this grape, it really is the pinnacle of the varietal. So in the absence of Sancerre in the market, how do we cope? We turn to its neighbors. The Loire Valley is the home of Sancerre, it is the perfect place to grow this grape. It is cold when it needs to be, gives the grapes the perfect amount of sun, and has soils that lead to plenty of minerality in the wine. This means that while Sancerre may be the king of Sauv Blanc, there are other parts of the valley that can produce wines of similar stature. A perfect example of this is the town of Cheverny to the west along the Loire River. We could go into great detail about how this area was spared from the majority of the issues that happened in Sancerre (which I’d love to talk about if you swing by the shop), but the end result is that we are able to get one of our favorite wines and a perfect vino to hold down the fort while we can’t get its more famous cousin.

Domaine du Salvard has been a staple in the Cheverny region since 1898 and is on its fifth generation of the same operating family. While the Loire Valley is known for its single varietal offerings, Cheverny has traditionally broken from that, making predominantly blends. Salvard finds itself somewhere inbetween with is Cheverny Blanc. Most blends of the area will use anywhere from three to five grapes to make up its mash, Salvard chooses to highlight one main grape with only one other varietal used in small quantities to help the main character shine. As you can guess, Sauvignon Blanc takes the lead role in their whites, with a small portion of Chardonnay then used to enhance the wine’s natural balance. This leaves us with is a beautiful wine that has all the tartness of a traditional single varietal expression, and a touch of body to elevate it to new heights. The aroma is a perfect marriage of citrus fruits, minerals, and herbs. With the small portion of Chardonnay, this wine is able to pair with many more foods than a standard Sauv Blanc. It is perfect with anything from salads to fish, and even grilled chicken.

Wines from lesser known areas usually have the benefit of a lower price tag and this is no exception. And keeping in mind the issues in Sancerre has driven prices higher on their wines. My average price on Sancerre has risen by nearly $7 a bottle over the last few years, taking it up to $27-$35 a bottle. Domaine du Salvard’s Cheverny Blanc rings in far below at just $18.99 before case discounts, making it an absolute steal in comparison. While this wine is definitely more abundant than our other favorite, it is not limitless. I was able to get about 20 cases of this wine this year, it will sell out. So make sure to grab as much as you need before we run out of this wine too!

Domaine Du Salvard Cheverny Blanc

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 Vine & Table #301