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A Fresh Destination for Pinot Noir: Reverdy's Sancerre Rouge

"Many examples of Sancerre rouge are a bit rustic in personality, but this is most emphatically not the case for this stellar bottle!"
—John Gilman, A View From the Cellar

For centuries, Sancerre was almost totally planted to red grape varieties, which were mainly Pinot Noir and Gamay. Only after phylloxera destroyed its vineyards in the late-19th century was the region reborn as a mainstream source of zippy, dry whites for the bistros and wine bars of Paris (and eventually, the world).

But if Sancerre Rouge was put firmly in the backseat by Sauvignon Blanc during the 20th century, it seems now almost inevitable that, thanks to climate change, red wines will play an increasingly important role in the 21st. Burgundy lovers should take note.

Like red Burgundy, AOC Sancerre Rouge is made from Pinot Noir planted almost exclusively on limestone soils. The main difference between the two regions has been climate; Sancerre’s reds have historically struggled to attain ripeness of their Burgundian counterparts.

Now, with sun-kissed vintages increasingly becoming the norm, Pinot Noir in Sancerre is looking more and more like Burgundy’s northern outpost.

A great example is the 2015 'Sancerre a Nicolas’ by Pascal et Nicolas Reverdy, a luscious but elegant and fresh wine which paradoxically tastes more Burgundian than many red Burgundies from this hot, dry year.

'Sancerre à Nicolas’ comes from a single vineyard on Oxfordian limestone soils near the village of Maimbray, found northwest of the town of Sancerre itself. Maimbray is the home base for this domaine, which is known for being one of the rare Sancerre producers to excel in making red wine.

Six years on from the vintage, the 2015 ‘Nicolas’ is a beautiful, full-fledged expression of Pinot Noir, with notes ranging from asphalt-kissed black cherry to radiant raspberry and dried herbs.

The mouthfeel shows expert handling of the elevage – silky and round, with no obvious oak flavors.

As Gilman notes in the excerpt above, the wine is set to age wonderfully, though we think it’s already drinking en pointe now.

Pascal et Nicolas Reverdy, Sancerre à Nicolas, 2015

Tasted alongside the 2016 vintage, this already shows some very attractive evolution. It kicks off with a much more savoury nose, with some degraded and grilled cherry fruits, dressed with a little praline and toast, and it is quite floral too, with touches of evolving leather. This is followed by a very harmonious palate, almost silky, with soft and cottony tannins, broad and quite confident, behind a wealth of grilled cherry fruit, praline and pencil shavings. Some long and reassuring tannins in the finish. From a 2018 Update. 94/100 (February 2018)

Chris Kissack