94 Insider Points

REVIEWS

A good Sancerre is something to rave about, and this is a perfect example.  From a place that some call the cultural heart of the Loire Valley comes the "Cave de Gortona" Sancerre Blanc from Domaine Eric Louis.

Lots of minerality with a hint of lime, and a certain something vegetal lingering in the background.  This wine has the classic wet stone and citrus on the nose, but don’t be fooled, it’s a very ripe example of Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre.  The wine settles nicely on the palate as a soft and supple mouthfeel narrows to the more recognizable elements of grapefruit and just a trace of an alpine meadow.  This is a very well-balanced and generally harmonious specimen from a popular and well-loved appellation.  Enjoy now through 2020. - DZ Nov 2015


INSIDE FACT: Sancerre is to Sauvignon Blanc what Chablis is to Chardonnay: quintessential, superbly unique terroir. The region sits on the left (south) bank of the Loire River, is one of the Loire region's most easterly appellations, and was one of the original AOCs determined in 1936. The land was first cultivated by the Romans, probably around the first century AD.

WHY WE'RE DRINKING IT
  • VARIETAL
    Sauvignon Blanc
  • APPELLATION
    Sancerre
  • ALCOHOL
    12.50%
  • SIZE
    1.5L (Magnum)
  • BLEND
    100% Sauvignon Blanc
  • FRUIT

  • BODY

  • OAK

  • ACIDITY

From the cultural heart of the Loire Valley and an appellation that's as seductive on the palate as it is rolling off the tongue (say it with us: Sahn-cerrrre), this is a special new release Magnum offering from an up-and-coming producer, direct imported exclusively for invino Members.

“The Loire Valley renown for its grassy white wines,” writes the Wall Street Journal recently. And the most famous of them is without question Sancerre. When our Sourcing Team travelled to the Loire recently in search of hidden gems, we had our doubts they’d discover any unturned stones in this ever-fashionable AOC.

In fact, what they discovered was a Gold Medal winner at the 2015 Decanter World Wine Awards and a local favorite, made by a fourth-generation local using time-honored techniques and in a pluperfect, super classic Sancerre style.

This 2014 is a pale golden color—a reflection of lees aging, NEVER oak. The aromas are citrus-focused and delicately tropical with a concentrated nose that promises yummy things to come. In the mouth, this is indeed yummy with expressive fruit in harmony with the region’s famous minerality and piquant grassiness. Textbook Sancerre like Eric Louis’ 2014 is the ideal white to pair with shellfish and seafood of practically any variety. Near our headquarters and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s a favorite to pour with cold cracked Dungeness crab. Free shipping on 3+ bottles helps, as this Direct Import is dangerously easy to quaff, and Members will find themselves opening bottle after bottle.

Drinking beautifully today, it’s got a good five years ahead, especially in this Magnum bottling.

TASTING NOTES 

A fresh, crisp, aromatic style of wine an enticing bouquet. Lots of minerality with a hint of lime, and a certain something vegetal lingering in the background.  This wine has the classic wet stone and citrus on the nose, but don’t be fooled, it’s a very ripe example of Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre.  The wine settles nicely on the palate as a soft and supple mouthfeel narrows to the more recognizable elements of grapefruit and just a trace of an alpine meadow.

The 2011 Loire vintage was shaped, as elsewhere in Europe, by the unusually warm and dry spring that signalled an early harvest. This was compounded in the Loire by the lack of a preceding winter; remarked that there were no frost days during this period, compared with twenty-five the previous year. Consequently Sancerre’s ‘ban de vendange’ (official start date) came on 1st Sept, after a cool and damp July/August that threatened to upset the party with outbreaks of rot. For many, harvesting was an unprecedented early start but proved fortuitous.

A fine, warm September facilitated fermentations to dryness, especially for those departing from the norm in using wild yeast (i.e. already present in the winery) as opposed to cultured. Acidities are generally on the low side making the pretty wines delicious in the early to medium term, without the grip or zip of the 2010s, but still fresh thanks to the cool summer. Yields are normal, certainly above the small, sun-tanned crop of the 2009 vintage.

THE STORY TO KNOW

Based in Thauveney-en-Sancerrois in the Loire, Eric Louis produces textbook Loire Sauvignon (and Pinot Noir) from both Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. The family’s winemaking history dates back to 1860 and the current owner’s great-grandmother, Pauline, whose is recognised in the official company name: Les Celliers de la Pauline.

Today the domaine owns 10ha of vines, including a significant parcel of ‘La Cote Blanche’, one of the top areas of Sancerre. The domaine employs lutte raisonnee practices in the vineyard in order to let the land express itself to the full and limit the impact on the environment. In the cellar, traditional methods are favoured to produce classically-styled examples of the appellations.

PERFECT PAIRINGS

Our Panel can't resist the quintessential pairing: Sancerre and French goat cheese, though any mild, soft cheese pair sensationally. It's also a lovely pairing for scallops and sushi.