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Sancerre is a great wine that is marvelous with many foods any time of the year. But, it is particularly nice during the holidays when you are looking to take a pause from some of the heartier seasonal fare. So, with that in mind, here are my notes on 2010 Sancerres. Most of the wines reviewed are some of my favorite Sancerres year in and year out. However, the 2010 vintage is very special as it has a wonderful combination of richness and finesse combined with structure and crispness. Following is the background on Sancerre that I published in my review of the 2009 Sancerres last year. Then there is a section that includes recipes for three of my favorite dishes to go with Sancerre. Happy Holidays  &  Bon Appétit!

town of sancerre [1]

Here is the introduction to  my review of 2009 Sancerres last year. (To read the entire article click here [2])

“White Sancerre is one of my favorite wines. I buy White Sancerre every year and find it to be one of the most versatile of all white wines. It complements, rather than overpowers, a wide variety of lighter food such as fish, chicken, pork, pasta, salads and mild cheeses…. Sancerre is located in the Loire Valley. It encompasses 14 communes (including the great villages of Chavignol, Bue, Verdigny, Amigny, and Menetreol). It is widely dispersed, covering about 7000 acres over vertiginous valleys at up to 350 meters above sea level with several different soil types. While Sancerre is now generally thought of as a white wine, this is relatively new. For centuries the area of Sancerre was known for its red wines from the Pinot Noir grape. Then in the 20th century the Pinot Noir vines were virtually wiped out by Phylloxera. Most of the vineyards were then replanted in Sauvignon Blanc and in 1936 the Sancerre white wine was accorded AOC status, while reds were classified in 1959. Sancerres now come in white, red, and rose.

White Sancerre is mostly known for its crisp, clean character with vibrant acidity; one slight deviation from this style is the Sancerre from the Les Monts Damnes. This is considered to be Sancerre’s greatest vineyard, which is renowned for its great complexity and depth, resembling a white Burgundy. Les Monts Damnes lies in the small village of Chavignol where the soil resembles that of the Chablis Grand Cru Vineyards as well as parts of Champagne. Wines from Chavignol offer the greatest expression of terroir as the soil imparts much of the flavor and increases the ability to age, the Les Monts Damnes vineyard, with a large proportion of old vines, is incredibly steep, approximating a wall of vines. Chavignol is also famous for goat cheese. And, not surprisingly, Sancerre makes a perfect match for the goat cheese! Other top vineyards include La Grand Cote, Le Cul de Beaujeu, Grand and Petit Chemarin and Chene Marchand. Some of my favorite producers include Henri Bourgeois, Claude and Florence Thomas-Labaille, Pascal Reverdy, Pascal Cotat, Francois Cotat, Lucien Crochet, Domaine Vacheron, Pascal Jolivet, Gerard Boulay, and Edmond Vatan. However, there are many others as well. If you have not given Sancerre a try, you owe it to yourself to do so. I think you will soon have a new favorite white wine.”

I would now add to the above by saying that in the last couple of years I have some other new favorites including Daniel Chotard, Domaine des Buissons, Hippolyte Reverdy, and Philippe Raimbault. The 2010s reviewed here are amazing wines. And, while it is true that these wines are some of my favorite Sancerres that I buy and drink regularly, it is also true that they represent a very clear picture of the style of the wines in 2010. Undoubtedly there are many other 2010 Sancerres that are beautiful wines. This is a vintage with very pure fruit, lots of finesse, and great balance and style. The 2009s are also really delicious and tend to have a bit more roundness. The 2008s were a bit more restrained and are rounding out nicely. And, the wines keep amazingly well. I just drank a 1999 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre that was delicious, rounded, crisp and complex and not at all tired! (At a later date I will have an article and notes on old Sancerres. Stay Tuned!) Some years show a bit more minerality, some a bit more fruit, some a bit more citrus, and so on. But, the best ones always have flavor, restraint, and finesse. If you have not yet tried Sancerre, now is a great time to start. I think you will find them to be delightful to drink and very food friendly. And, if you are a fan of Sancerre as I am, this is a vintage you do not want to miss.

Sancerre Sign [3]

Pascal and Francois Cotat

Cotat is one of the most revered names in Sancerre and they have been making some of the best wines for many years. Pascal and his cousin, François, carry on the works of their fathers, Francis and Paul. They make wines in a very traditional manner that are capable of aging for many years. The wines of Pascal Cotat and Francois Cotat are imported by Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY.

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2010 Pascal Cotat Sancerre Chavignol Les Monts Damnes. Light yellow in color, this Sancerre has a gorgeous perfume of pear and melon with a touch of citrus and mineral and an intriguing pineapple nuance. It has great finesse and style and is very pure and elegant with subtle hints of melon, citrus, and pineapple with a faint minerality. The wine is supple, yet with a nice crispness and a long finish. This is a stunning Sancerre  – Extraordinary. $42   Best Buy 4-yellow-stars [5]

2010 Pascal Cotat Sancerre Chavignol La Grande Cote. This is yet another gorgeous Sancerre from Pascal Cotat. It is light yellow in color and has a lovely perfume of melon and citrus with a floral nuance and a hint of minerality. These elements follow through on the palate with a hint of peach and the wine has great elegance and style with a long crisp finish – Outstanding Plus.   $423-n-half-yellow-stars [6]

2010 Pascal Cotat Sancerre Vin de Table Lot 2010 Chavignol. Interestingly, the word Rosé does not appear on the label of this wine. It says “Vin de Table, Lot 2010.” Well, to me, it’s Rosé and always one of my favorites. This 2010 is delicious. The wine has a pale orange color with a golden amber hue and a gorgeous perfume with hints of spice and herbs with a faint floral spice nuance. On the palate, it is crisp and flavorful with floral nuance and hints of cherry fruit accented by a faint hint of spice and citrus. This is a wine of finesse and style that drinks beautifully now and should evolve over the next 5-10 years – Outstanding Plus. $35.00 Best Buy3-n-half-yellow-stars [6]

2010 Francois Cotat Sancerre Chavignol Les Culs de Beaujeu. Light yellow in color, this Sancerre has a gorgeous perfume of citrus and melon with floral mineral nuances. The wine has great syle and finesse yet there is intensity and depth. The flavor shows floral mineral nuances with hints of citrus and melon and the wine is very pure with a lovely crisp finish – Outstanding Plus.   $403-n-half-yellow-stars [6]

Claude and Florence Thomas-Labaille

Claude and Florence Thomas-Labaille produce Sancerre in the old style with minimal intervention in the wine making and careful care of the vineyards. Their holdings are among the best in Chavignol, with a large proportion of old vines in the very steep vineyards. And their Sancerres are consistently some of the best produced. Selected by Louis/Dressner Selections & Imported by LDM Wines Inc. New York, NY.

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2010 Claude and Florence Thomas-Labaille Sancerre Chavignol Les Monts Damnes. This is a gorgeous Sancerre. Light yellow in color, it has a gorgeous perfume with hints of watermelon, citrus, and a faint mineral nuance. On the palate there is lovely fruit hinting of melon and citrus with a mineral-tinged nuance. The wine has great balance and a long, citrus-tinged finish – Outstanding Plus. $21.00 Best Buy3-n-half-yellow-stars [6]

2010 Claude and Florence Thomas-Labaille Sancerre Chavignol Les Monts Damnes Cuvée Buster. This is a very special wine that is always fabulous. It is a cuvée made from a parcel of 75-year-old vines in the Les Monts Damnes. Production is very limited and I am told that there are only about 50 cases of this wine imported by Louis/Dressner Selections each year. Louis/Dressner is the name of the company formed by Joe Dressner and his wife, Denyse Louis, in 1988. They specialize in wines from France and Italy that they deem to be natural, real, heirloom, or authentic. Cuvée Buster is the name created by the Dressner family who select and import the special wines bearing this name and image. Buster is an actual dog (part pit bull and part Welsh Cardigan Corgi) whose picture appears on all the cuvées selected by Louis/Dressner Selections as being exceptional. (Sadly, Joe Dressner passed away earlier this year. I had the great fortune to meet him a number of years ago. I found him to be a man of great character, knowledge, and taste. He was one of the early advocates of sustainable farming practices and wines made naturally with minimal intervention. He also was a pioneer in using the internet for marketing. And, most of all, he was a man of conviction and principle. He will be missed. R.I.P. “Joey D.”) This 2010 Cuvée Buster Sancerre is simply gorgeous. Light yellow in color, the wine has a stunning perfume of peach, citrus, melon, and peach with a hint of minerality and a floral note. Very pure with gorgeous complexity, this Sancerre has great fruit showing citrus and melon and a lovely guava tinge that is backed by a faint floral mineral note – Extraordinary.   $35   Best Buy4-yellow-stars [5]

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Daniel Chotard

Daniel Chotard’s vineyard lies on slopes surrounding the small commune of Crezancy-en-Sancerre, which is close to the town of Sancerre. Winemaking in the Chotard family goes back for some 200 years. He practices sustainable farming and harvests late.

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2010 Daniel Chotard Sancerre. This is a lovely, very pure, crisp Sancerre. It has a light yellow color and a gorgeous floral tinged perfume with hints of melon, citrus and a faint minerality. The balance, fruit, and flavors are lovely and expressive. Hints of melon, citrus, and minerality are very subtle and the wine is elegant with great charm and a very nice crisp finish – Outstanding.   $26   Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA 3-yellow-stars [10]

Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy

Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy. This family has been making wine in the village of Verdigny for as far back as the 1600s. Originally it was a farm where goats were raised and wine made for local consumption. After World War II Hippolyte began increasing production and he and his three sons began bottling a small amount under their own label while selling off most of the wine to the local cooperative. Since the 1980s Michel, one of Hippolyte’s sons, has been caring for the some 35 acres of vineyards and annually producing around 8,500 cases of wine.

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Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre. This Sancerre has a light yellow color and a lovely perfume with mineral, floral, citrus, and melon nuances. The wine is elegant and quite lush, but with good backbone and has gorgeous fruit showing hints of melon, citrus, and mineral. This a really nice Sancerre with great balance, finesse, flavor and charm – Outstanding.    $26   Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, CA 3-yellow-stars [10]

Philippe Raimbault

Philippe Raimbault is a small producer who basically is a one man operation in tending the vines and making the wine. He makes two different cuvées of Sancerre. Apud Sariacum is the ancient name of the village of Sury-en-Vaux. The fossil on the label reflects the soil of the vineyard which dates to the Jurassic period leaving fossilized stones of ancient sea creatures scattered throughout the property. The Les Godons vineyard was acquired by the Raimbault family in 1946. It is steeply sloped and forms a natural amphitheatre which protects the vines from wind and creates a separate microclimate. The wines of Philippe Raimbault are selected by Jean-Marie de Champs, Beaune, France and imported by The Wine House Limited, San Francisco, CA

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2010 Philippe Raimbault Sancerre Apud Sariacum. Light yellow in color this wine has a gorgeous floral perfume with hints of citrus, melon and mineral. It has great finesse, crispness, and minerality with an underlying supple fruitness showing hints of melon and citrus. This is a delicious Sancerre – Outstanding.   $24.993-yellow-stars [10]

2010 Philippe Raimbault Sancerre Les Godons. Light yellow in color this is a lovely expressive Sancerre with great style and finesse. It has a very nice perfume with hints of melon and citrus with a floral tinge. The flavors are subtle with floral, citrus, and melon nuances and the wine is supple and elegant with a crisp finish – Outstanding.    $24.99  3-yellow-stars [10]

Domaine des Buissones (Roger Naudet & Fils)

This is a small family estate consisting of some 33 acres with 24 acres planted to Sauvignon Blanc and 9 acres to Pinot Noir. The family farms the vineyards which are mostly located in the valleys of the village Sury en Vaux. The wine making here is very natural. The Wines of Domaine des Buissones are Selected by Jean-Marie de Champs, Beaune, France and Imported by The Wine House Limited, San Francisco, CA

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2010 Domaine des Buissones (Roger Naudet & Fils)  Sancerre.
This is a delicious Sancerre that it bright, crisp, and elegant with gorgeous fruit and balance. It is light yellow in color and has a lovely perfume of melon and citrus with a faint floral minerality. These elements follow through on the palate and are wonderfully integrated into the suppleness of the wine that is balanced by a very nice, crisp finish – Outstanding.   $22.49 Best Buy3-yellow-stars [10]


As I mentioned at the beginning, I have several things that I especially like with Sancerre. For an appetizer, a combination of olives and nuts is terrific and I have created a recipe that I really like. For a main course, I have two choices: 1) Fresh Dover Sole filets poached in wine and butter with brown butter, toasted almond slices and green grapes or, 2) Fresh Alaska Halibut Filet Pan Grilled with a drizzle of Meyer lemon butter and a savory salsa. These recipes follow.

John’s Special Sancerre Appetizer

Sancere 11.7 013

Drained (reserve 1 tbsp. liquid with olives)
Lucques French olives (or other mild olives)
Top quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Marcona Almonds Raw
Freshly shelled roasted and salted Pistachio nuts
Chopped Italian parsley

Crack olives with mallet and remove seed
Break olives into halves

Add olives and nuts to bowl (choose how much of each you want per serving)
Add a liberal amount of olive oil and toss
Remove desired amount of olives and nuts to individual serving bowls
Sprinkle with chopped parsley

Serve with a

Fresh Dover Sole Filets Poached In Wine And Butter (To see a slightly different version of this recipe click here [14]) [14]

Sancere 11.7 014

Dover sole filets
French butter
Grapeseed oil
Sea salt (fine)
Seedless white grapes (halved or quartered)
Fresh roasted almond slices
Dry white wine Meyer lemon (juice)
Chive (chopped)
Sumac powder
Black pepper (freshly ground)

Warm plates in oven
Brown French butter in a pan
Strain and reserve the liquid
Rub cold butter to cover the bottom of a fry pan
Pat the filets dry, lightly sprinkle sea salt and add to pan
Cover the filets with dry white wine and turn up heat
When warm, add seedless white grapes to the pan
When grapes are warm, but not cooked, remove and save Continue to ladle liquid over the fish until done
Place filets on a warm plate and cover with hot burnt butter
Squeeze a few drops of fresh Meyer lemon juice on top
Place the grapes around the plate and sprinkle fresh roasted almond slices and chive on top
Sprinkle with some sumac power, a pinch of sea salt, and a dash of freshly ground black pepper

Serve Hot

Fresh Pan Grilled Alaska Halibut


Sancere 11.7 041

Alaska halibut filet
Sea salt (fine)
Grap seed oil
Green mango (diced)
Persian cucumbers (diced)
or other sweet onion (chopped)
Asian pear (diced)
Cilantro (chopped)
Unsalted French butter
Meyer lemon
Navel orange or other sweet orange
Fresh ground black pepper


Warm plates in oven
Add mango, cucumber, pear, onion in equal amounts to a bowl
Add Meyer lemon and orange juice
Toss with Cilantro

Melt butter and add fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice
Pat Halibut filet dry. Spray both sides with olive oil
Sprinkle both sides with sea salt. Put a liberal amount of grape seed oil (enough to bring to the top of the ridges in the pan) in a non stick grill pan with a ridged bottom
Get oil hot and add halibut filets to the pan
Grill both sides of the filets until light brown on both sides and cooked through
Place Halibut pieces on warm plates. Drizzle with butter and lemon juice mixture
Grind fresh ground pepper on filets Put salsa mixture on top and around the plate
Serve warm


So there you have it. Notes on some really superb 2010 Sancerres and recipes for three of my favorite things to accompany Sancerre. These are a perfect match to take a break from the typically heartier foods that are served around this time of year. Happy Holidays!

holiday wreath - corks