The compare and contrast idea behind Make Mine a Double is really honed in this review: two wines made from the same grape in the same region by the same producer…just grown in plots with different soil types.
Domaine Thomas is now in the hands of Julien and his partner Justine, but still with advice from his father Jean. The Domaine traces its origins back to the 17th century and Julien is keen to preserve this heritage, but with his own take on making wines in a fairly natural and biodynamic way.
Here are two Sancerre Blancs from Domaine Thomas which offer a real taste of their terroir:
Domaine Thomas Sancerre Le Perrier 2017 (12.5%, RRP €24.95 at Searsons)
“Pierrier” translates as “scree”, a collection of broken rock fragments that have usually accumulated over time from rockfalls. The soil is limestone and of course the grapes are 100% Sauvignon Blanc. There’s a lot said about minerality in wines these days, even if the mechanism for grapes developing a mineral taste is not well understood, but this wine is very mineral and fresh indeed. There is fruit as well, with grapefruit and green apple; although these are green fruit and there are no exuberant tropical notes, this is not an under-ripe wine in any respect. The finish is longer than The Blue Room by The Orb – this is a seriously good wine.
Domaine Thomas Sancerre “Grand’Chaille” 2016 (12.5%, RRP €27.95 at Searsons)
The Grand’Chaille vineyard is a mixture of clay and silex; clay is known for adding power to wines and so it proves here. The wine is much rounder in the mouth than Le Pierrier, with fruit more to the fore: lemon, lime, grapefruit and gooseberry. Yes, there are still mineral notes but this is a more generous wine. Whereas Le Pierrier would be perfect for oysters and other shellfish, this cuvée could handle stronger fare such as goat’s cheese tart and similar dishes. Personally, I’ll pass on the cheese and take the wine!
As you may have gathered from my notes above, these wines are both excellent but have a different profile and focus. I defy anyone to taste them back to back and say that terroir does not matter. In terms of preference, it really comes down to the context, and in particular if they are being taken with food. Le Pierrier is perhaps a greater wine in my eyes but Grand’Chaille is more accessible.