This series of articles each covers two wines that have something in common, and most likely some point of difference. Compare and contrast is the order of the day – so make mine a double!
Two Fresh Loire Sauvignons
Two wines: same grape, same year, same region, different producers and adjoining appellations – the perfect way to understand the similarities and differences.
The Loire Valley is one of the most under-rated wine regions in Europe. It actually consists of several different sub-regions by the course of the river which specialise in different groups of grapes: Melon de Bourgogne in Muscadet, then Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Gamay and others in the middle, and finally Sauvignon Blanc to the east.
Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are the most well-known and prestigious Sauvignon areas, but there are plenty of quality producers in the others:
The Terres Blanches in the name of the first wine refers to white clay soils. The producer is based at Bué en Sancerre, and also make Pouilly Fumé and Sancerre wines. Coteaux du Giennois is a much less well known appellation next door to Sancerre with the vineyards split:
White: 95 hectares planted – 2,900 hl produced – 65 hl/ha max yield – Sauvignon Blanc variety
Red: 78 hectares planted – 3,200 hl produced – 59 hl/ha max yield – Pinot Noir & Gamay varieties (80% maximum of either variety in a blend)
Rosé: 20 hectares planted – 600 hl produced – 63 hl/ha max yield – Pinot Noir & Gamay varieties
So now to the two wines themselves (note: both kindly given by SuperValu):
Domaine de Terres Blanches Coteaux du Giennois AOC 2014 (€10.00, SuperValu) 12.5%
On opening this is obviously from the Loire, it couldn’t be anywhere else. If has primary gooseberry on the nose, joined by quince and grapefruit on the palate. It’s too young for asparagus characters, too Loire for the tropical passionfruit and mango which some Kiwi Savvies exhibit.
It’s fresh and juicy, not austere, with plenty of fruit. The initial big hit fades quickly, but lessens rather than fading totally away. Enjoyable on its own or – I’d imagine – with goats cheese.
Guy Saget Sancerre AOC 2014 (€14.00, SuperValu) 12.5%
Sancerre’s soils are a mix of Kimmeridgian clay, dry limestone with lots of pebbles and flint. A typical example of Sancerre, this has plenty of green fruit but is also very mineral, perhaps even saline. It has more acidity yet is somehow a little smoother than the Giennois.
Split The Difference
The Giennois is slightly more eager to please, whereas the Sancerre is a little standoffish – you have to make a little more effort with it, but it’s worth it. Amazingly it is the more expensive Sancerre which has a screwtop while the Coteaux du Giennois is under cork. I really like both of these wines; I’d be very happy with the Giennois any day, but to drink with fine food at the table then I’d choose the slightly more refined Sancerre.
Make Mine a Double #01 – Paddy Borthwick & Pegasus Bay Rieslings