Sancerre wines are a family of white, red and rosé wines produced in the Centre-Val-de-Loire region of France (center of France) around the town of Sancerre, where it gets its name, in the famed Loire River valley wine region.
The wines are described as having fruity, highly aromatic flavors that pair well with many different types of foods, making it a very “food-friendly” wine. Sancerre is made primarily with the Sauvignon blanc grape variety, although roughly 20% of the production in any given year is produced using Pinot noir grapes. The white wines are dry, rounded and have intense flavors of peaches and gooseberries. The reds are lighter and are highly aromatic, while the rosés are more light bodied, dry and have notes of raspberry and strawberry.
The diversity and taste of Sancerre wine varies depending on what part of the wine-producing region they come from. In the western part of its production region along the Loire River, the soils are higher in clay content, producing more full-bodied and rounder wines. In the northwestern part of the region near Sancerre, the soils are lighter and include a mix of limestone and gravel, creating more perfumed wines. Other parts of the production area have higher levels of flint deposits and produce wines with a more mineral, steely taste. The Sancerre-producing region’s relative distance from the coast gives it a cool continental climate, affecting the taste of the wines.
Wine producers have been present in this wine region for quite a long time, creating a deep historical connection between the Sancerre wines and the geographic area where it is made. Wine production here probably dates back to the Roman Empire, with some Roman authors mentioning wine being produced here as early as the first century A.D. And in 582, Saint Grégoire de Tours talks of this wine region in his writings. But it wasn’t until the 12th century that the wine started to see widespread success due to the work of Augustine monks who exported the wine to other parts of France.
White Sancerre wines have benefited from protected designation of origin status since 1936. Protection for red and rosé Sancerre varieties was added in 1959. This designation provides important rules for production that protect the history and savoir-faire of its producers that have been developed over centuries, ensuring a high-quality product using age-old knowledge of production.
If you are interested in trying it, Sancerre wines pair will with a wide variety of foods, but recommended pairings include salmon dishes or foie gras for white wines, white meats and poultry for red varieties, and poultry or curry dishes for the rosés.