Man with herring
Last Thursday and Friday we were in Sancerre to taste a range of whites and reds from some of the Central Vineyard appellations. On the Thursday evening we were invited to a Franco-Dutch celebration at La Maison des Sancerres.
Sancerre is twinned with Markelo and there has long been a strong bond between the two towns. Some of the Dutch present at Thursday evening’s celebration made their first visit to Sancerre 50 years ago.
We were very lucky with the weather as it was the first really warm evening of the year and we were able to stand on the terrace of the Maison des Sancerre and look across the old quarter of Sancerre towards Amigny, Chavignol and Verdigny. A wonderful way to enjoy some glasses of Sancerre in the three colours and to eat food prepared by a Dutch chef who had come down specially for this evening. One of the highlights was to see people eating the raw herring.
Man with part of a herring...
This soirée was part of the first edition Nunspeet to Sancerre vintage car rally. The idea being that around 20 vintage cars would drive down from Nunspeet in northern Holland, just short of 90 kms east of Amsterdam. Fill up their cars with Sancerre and return to Nunspeet some 730 kms. A total trip of 1460 kms excluding excursions around the vineyards of Sancerre.
Naturally there were a number of Sancerre vignerons present including Denis Vacheron, Philippe Raimbault and Lynne Ball, Roger Reverdy-Cadet, Laurent Champault, Matilde Natter, Pascal Reverdy and Jean-Christophe Bourgeois.
It was noticeable that several of them stressed how cohesive the vignerons of Sancerre are and how well they work together. Jean-Christophe cited how close together the houses etc. are in Sancerre and villages like Chavignol etc. Being on top of each obliged them to cooperate.
I have long noticed the difference between Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire across the river. As well as the proximity factor I think this is also due to the way that the town of Sancerre is virtually encircled by vineyards and that many of villages look towards La butte de Sancerre. In contrast ‘AC Pouilly’ has no real centre – Pouilly-sur-Loire is largely a town of ghosts from its heyday when the Route Nationale 7 (Route Bleue) passed through the town.
Dutch accordion player
Sancerre has also been lucky with its leaders – Alphonse Mellot Snr (18th generation), Jean-Max Roger, Vincent Pinard, Denis Vacheron, Jean-Marie Bourgeois and others who have promoted both the appellation but also new and up and coming producers. Sadly ‘AC Pouilly’ doesn’t really have a similar leader or set of leaders. Patrick de Ladoucette is head of group of companies and I believe spends a lot of his time away from Pouilly. The late Didier Dagueneau could have been a leader for the appellation but was often happier berating his fellow vignerons.
I’m convinced that it is this cohesion of Sancerre that has made it a generally more consistent than neighbouring Pouilly.