2017 Joel et Sylvie Cirotte, Sancerre “Le Chene Marchand” Loire Valley, France.
The dense Sauvignon Blanc fruit and striking mineral detail highlights the Cru terroir that influences this well made Sancerre by vignerons Joel et Sylvie Cirotte, a small domaine that continues to turn out beautiful wines that punch above their price class. I tasted through a few of the Cirotte offerings, all of which delivered a fine performance, including their Sancerre Rouge Pinot Noir and the Le Grand Chemarin Blanc, but I was most impressed by this Le Chene Marchand with its expressive nature and structure that made it stand out. The Cirotte Le Chene Marchand Sancerre, which was aged 18 months in acacia barrels, shows a rich palate of gooseberry, lemon/lime and tart peach fruits, crushed oyster shells, light herbs, wet stones and a touch of hazelnut and leesy notes with delicate white flowers and a faint smoky element. The Le Chêne Marchand is a historic site set on a limestone rich piece of land with a gentle slope of south facing vines, most over 35 years old, it shows an elegant expression in the hands of the Cirotte’s and their version goes exceptionally well with a wide range of cuisine, though some nice fresh goat cheese really brings out the full personality here.

The estate, also known as Domaine La Croix Saint-Laurent dates back to the 1800s and is situated near Bue, Cher, with the Cirotte family owning it since 1932, in the heart of the Sancerre zone and has many parcels in the area’s most prized vineyards, including this Le Chene Marchand and the winery has about 10 hectares of plots with 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Pinot Noir, with their the vines aged between 55-70 years old in most cases and which are farmed to organic standards. The vines yield small but high quality fruit that adds to the intensity and concentration in their wines, this absolutely shows in the current releases. The Sancerre(s) by Joel and Sylvie Cirotte come from the classic mostly terres blanches (calcareous clay & limestone) soils, with about 10% Silex and usually fermented in stainless steel with the Cru bottlings seeing the extended lees aging in the neutral acacia wood casks that allow texture and depth for serious impact and mouth feel without oaky flavors accenting the wine, these wines keep their freshness and transparent forms. This winery was new to me and I enjoyed each of the wines I tried and will certainly look for them when I’m thinking about Sancerre and Sauvignon Blanc, and I will keep an eye out for the basic cuvee that sells for about $20, it was the one I missed.
($40 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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