Soulful Site Specific Sancerres

8 July 2024

Sancerre is one of France’s “Great Whites”, celebrated around the world for producing crisp, bone-dry, aromatic white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc. Generally a good deal cheaper than the regal whites of Burgundy, it nevertheless has an enviable mix of terroirs; vineyards that enable the best of the region’s vignerons to produce beautifully site specific cuvees very much in the manner of their compatriots from the Cote d’Or.

One of the region’s leading estates is Vincent Pinard; now in the hands of 15th generation brothers Clément & Florent Pinard. Together they farm 17 hectares of vineyards on the foothills that surround the famous village of Bué. The estate is blessed with illustrious parcels in prime sites like Petit and Grand Chemarin as well as in the legendary Chêne Marchand. In the vineyard they follow a biodynamic approach with a focus on creating wines that express a sense of place. Yields are kept low, and an earlier harvest is favoured to help preserve freshness. In the winery they are thoughtful and work as naturally as possible, using only the lightest of touches. Whole clusters are pressed gently, and fermentation occurs naturally using indigenous yeast.

Vinification’s are carried out plot by plot to encourage the expression of each terroir. The wines are then matured in demi-muid oak barrels on the lees for nearly a year, bringing a lovely richness and resonant depth. Sulphur is kept to a minimum and the wines are bottled un-fined and un-filtered. The resulting bottles are elegant, age-worthy, and bursting with character. The finest vintages last for decades.

At the very top of the Pinard range, you find their iconic single vineyard bottlings. The Petit and Grand Chemarin can be found on Kimmeridgian limestone soils; a mixture of limestone and clay that also forms the basis for some of Chablis most famous Grand Crus. Petit Chemarin is a slightly cooler site and offers up delicate aromatics with a lovely purity and finesse and a defined minerality running through its core. The Grand Chemarin is slightly broader, and invariably more structured and concentrated. It tends to benefit from a couple of extra years in bottle. The headline cuvée is produced from their old vines in the great Chêne Marchand vineyard – the stony white Oxfordian limestone soils lending the wines the perfect combination of both power and precision.

The Pinards also make fantastic red wines made from Pinot Noir. These are great value and are a superb alternative to red Burgundy. They are slightly lighter in style, but with lots of character and an undeniably Sancerrois leaning to freshness, and minerality.

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