JWL Issue #061: What is Sancerre? Plus, chilled wines

July 23, 2019

With the heatwave upon us, I’ve got some great chilled wines to check out in this week’s Taste section.

Last week I announced the (pre)launch of The Wine List. Every month, you will get two bottles of wine and guided lessons sou can learn as you go.

The pre-orders for the first month’s delivery close this Friday at midnight. So if you want to receive a box of wine, a tasting guide written by me, and two guided wine lessons, make sure to sign up.

I’m very excited about the first two wines. One is someone I had the pleasure of meeting last year, who has a great story to tell and a history ion the music industry. The other is one of my favourite wines I’ve sampled for this newsletter but isn’t very widely distributed in the UK.

I’ve also had some incredible feedback over the last couple of weeks. Please do let me know what you think: the good, the bad, and the ugly.


Tenuta il Cascinone Crocera (£9.50 from Noble Green) is an endlessly quaffable Barbera. I find Barbera can often be heavily stewed or stodgy, but this by comparison was very easy drinking. Black fruits, black pepper, and some thyme dominant here.

Denbies are going from strength to strength this year. After tasting their impeccable blancs de blancs a few weeks ago, I finally got round to trying their sparkling bacchus (£17 where available). I’ve had another English sparkling bacchus, and it wasn’t that great. But Denbies’ is fresh and light, and a breath of fresh air. There’s nice elderflower here, with a hint of an English country flower garden.

Finally, I had Alpha Box & Dice’s orange viognier/semillion blend from Australia (£15.95 from Nd. John). Initially some of the floral notes you associate with viognier weren’t present, but after 10 minutes open this came alive. This has tropical notes and orange peel, all brought together in a lovely juicy mouthfeel. A great early evening wine to tuck in.



This was one of those wine ‘brands’ I knew before I knew anything about wine. Along with Chablis, Sancerre was one of those go-to whites for me who didn’t like or know much about white wine. And of course, in a similar breath I probably would have told you how I don’t like sauvignon blanc.

Sancerre is a small part of the Loire Valley, in the north of France. That makes it a cool climate (though global warming is heating it slowly), and therefore only certain grapes could grow here. The appellation is opposite Pouilly-Fumé, another of Loire’s famous exports.

Most wine produced here is white and made from sauvignon blanc. These wines are bone dry, aromatic and often have gooseberry and elderflower flavours. Pinot noir is the other grape representing about one-fifth of grape production, and it’s evenly split between red and rosé. Interestingly, Sancerre historically was a pinot region that lost favour to sauvignon blanc. The mini-resurgence in the mid-2000s has been documented by Decanter.

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