2010 Château de Sancerre
Retail price: approximately $25
Available at Madwine
French Wines: Le Sacré du Printemps
Parisian society in 1913 got an unexpected taste of pagan ritual during the premiere of Stravinsky’s adventurous musical accompaniment to Les Ballets Russes. Historical accounts of The Rite of Spring credited highly original rhythmic structures and previously unheard tonal dissonance for what appeared to drive the audience into a form of collective chaos, as the performance allegedly ended with fistfights in the aisles. The fusing of primitive and modern rendered the piece an instant icon.
The idea of picking a French wine that expresses the type of dramatic seasonal rite implied in a true spring awakening intrigues me. To my taste, a classic Sancerre provides an excellent salute to spring, as it suggests an eternal freshness. A good Sancerre overflows with feisty flavors and enough rhythmic frenzy to wake up the senses and break through the drowsiness of a long winter’s nap.
The 2010 Château de Sancerre presents the telltale qualities we expect from the upper Loire, from the flinty, smoky nuances to the distinctive grapefruit and freshly cut grassiness that brings out the “sauvage” in sauvignon blanc. To further enhance the classic Sancerre style, the wine is matured on the lees (an organic by-product of fermentation) for several months and regularly agitated to give it more body and forcefulness. The resulting wine is assertive, full and edgy.
By French law, Sancerre is 100 percent sauvignon blanc. The old-world/new-world comparison is crystal clear when pitting Sancerre against a Marlborough sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. Where the new-world expression of sauvignon blanc excels at a pure exotic fruitiness, the old world Sancerre celebrates a complexity of minerals and limestone soil characteristics. The two expressions provide dramatic bookends to the spectrum of not only the grape itself but of old- and new-world styles of winemaking.
The 2010 Château de Sancerre recalls the timelessness of Le Sacré du Printemps. It reminds us that each spring even our most ancient vineyards bring forth new life. Although Sancerre can and ought to be enjoyed in any season, it best exemplifies the sensory drama of spring.
Enjoy it with chèvre, oysters, fruits de mer, omelettes aux fines herbes and, occasionally, a bit of Stravinsky.
Editor’s note: Food and wine lovers heading to Paris might want to try one of the Girls’ Guide’s favorite cooking classes in Paris.