Sancerre wine, in simple terms, is from a region within the Loire Valley of central France known for making outrageous white wines from Sauvignon Blanc, along with lesser-known (but still delicious) red and rosé wines.
Wines from this region present the standard for what Sauvignon is capable of when done right. With flavors of flint, smoke, and snappy acidity, it’s no wonder Sancerre produces some of the most food-friendly wines in the world.
In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the Sancerre region, along with specific tasting notes and food pairings.
Characteristics of Sancerre
Sancerre refers both to a region and the wines made within it. The region of Sancerre is located in the eastern part of the Loire Valley AOC of France. While red, white, and rosé wines are made here, Sancerre is most notable for making world-renowned Sauvignon Blanc, which you’ll often find labeled simply as “Sancerre.”
While Sauvignon Blanc can be found in many regions around France, such as in Bordeaux or the neighboring appellation, Pouilly-Fumé, the wines here are unique in their acidity and structure.
The vineyards in Sancerre are located on chalky limestone and flint soils, making for wines with a detectible minerality and almost savoriness to them. In addition, these vineyards are located along fault lines, which adds an even greater depth of flavor and mineral quality.
Sancerre Tasting Notes
The Sancerre we know best is a dry white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a light and refreshing wine that’s high in acidity and low in alcohol, usually around 10-11% ABV.
Unlike Bordeaux, white Sancerre wines will always be made entirely from Sauvignon Blanc. This makes for a wine with crisp and delicious acidity. Flavors and aromas range from citrus to freshly mowed grass, hay, smoked melon, peaches, and green apples.
Sancerre wines have historically been aged in stainless steel and have not undergone malolactic fermentation. The lack of oak aging helps to maintain the acidity and green fruit character. However, some winemakers are beginning to experiment with oak, making for wines with a slightly fuller body and well-rounded flavor profile.
A Word on Red and Rosé Sancerre
As mentioned earlier, Sancerre may be known for Sauvignon Blanc, but some red and rosé wines are also made here. In fact, red and rosé Sancerre account for about 12% of production.
Both red and rosé wines made in Sancerre come from the Pinot Noir grape, sometimes with a little aid from Gamay Noir. These wines are usually light to medium in body, with bright acidity and intense summertime red fruit flavors.
Red Sancerre can be enjoyed both young and with some aging, whereas rosé is best drunk young to maintain its crisp floral and red fruit aromas. These wines can be paired in much the same way as you would with Burgundy or Beaujolais.
Sancerre Food Pairings
Due to Sancerre’s vivacious, racy acidity, it’s the perfect wine for pairing with everything from seafood to vegetables and lean proteins.
When deciding what to pair, it’s helpful to think local. The Loire Valley is known for its use of seasonal ingredients, fresh produce, and earthy goat cheese. So, it’s unsurprising that these all make for an excellent pairing with a crisp and lean Sancerre wine. Consider trying this with our Bruschetta Chicken Pasta with Goat Cheese or these Fried Goat Cheese Balls.
In general, Sancerre can be used similarly to any other region of Sauvignon Blanc, though it’s a standout choice when paired with seafood, citrus, and green produce. We love to pair Sancerre with our easy seafood recipes, like this Slow Baked Steelhead Trout or Sicilian Swordfish.
Whether you’re pairing it with food or sipping on its own, we think you’ll love exploring Sancerre wine. Be sure to shout out below any favorite food pairings or specific Sancerre wines you’ve tried and loved!