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Sancerre in All But Name? Nozay's One-Off 'Dolium' Is Truly Dazzling

Stylized image of Domaine de Nozay, Dolium (Sancerre), 2020

The best deal in Sancerre (See our Ultimate Guide to the Terroir of Sancerre Here) this year doesn't say Sancerre on the label. In 2020, our pals at Domaine du Nozay were thrilled with the fruit from their top site, the Clos du Nozay, and they put it all into large earthenware amphorae, called Dolium, instead of the usual mix of wood, amphorae and stainless steel.

The harvest was so healthy they needed even less sulfur than usual. The fermentation and aging went perfectly and they ended up with an utterly delicious wine that expressed all the site's old-vine kimmeridgian terroir, sauvignon brightness, and its own unique texture.

And then the problems started. Sancerre's Powers That Be get to approve every wine that bears the appellation's name. And they didn't like what they read in the technical sheets. The sulfur was low. Would the wine be stable crossing the ocean? The terra cotta wasn't traditional. And the texture: was that really typical? Should this wine properly be called Sancerre? In the end, the regulators voted no, and the domaine released it as a VdF they call "Dolium."

Three years later, we can definitively say that yes, the wine is perfectly stable after crossing the ocean and landing on some of the city's best wine lists and, yes, wine stores. Should the wine be called Sancerre? We think so. It has the fruit and freshness that make Sancerre so well-loved, and the minerality that makes good Sancerre so much more than a merely cheerful wine. And it has a sense of place that sets it apart, a limestone power and richness that evokes 1er cru Chablis with its ability to balance and give depth to the wine's natural high tones and minerality. A few years in the bottle and it has come together into something really special.

Domaine de Nozay, Dolium, 2020 $59.99
Lemon curd and lightly herbaceous on the nose; flavors of deliciously ripe fruit, a hint of chablis-like almond or marzipan, bright lemon curd, and a saline minerality on the finish that makes you want some shellfish, or at least another sip.


This story was originally featured in our newsletter, where it was offered at a special subscribers-only discount. Subscribers get special offers, the first look at new discoveries, invites to events, and stories about wines and the artisans that make them.