MCF Rare Wine

Sauvignon Beyond Sancerre

Whether you're a shop owner or a sommelier, Sancerre is, hands down, the most consistently requested wine from France.

Americans have a love affair with it...their benchmark, if you will, for Sauvignon.

But that wasn't always the case...

Blake, who's my longtime rep from the Rosenthal Wine Merchant, has been in this business for a long time, and, having serviced most of the great restaurants in the city for decades now, he quietly knows as much about the NYC wine scene as anyone you'll meet.

He's always maintained that, back in the '80s, every great restaurant in the city wasn't ripping through cases of Sancerre on a nightly basis, but rather Pouilly Fumé.

Back then, it was considered the superior appellation and the benchmark for Sauvignon worldwide.

(You may be familiar with a California wine called 'Fumé Blanc', which is Sauvignon from Napa or Sonoma that was styled after Fumé due to the weight that the name carried.)

The reason for Fumé's decline and Sancerre's ascendance is not known for sure, but my wise-guy theory has always been that a) Sancerre is fun to say and the way it rolls off the tongue makes one feel quite knowledgeable and, more importantly, b) casual wine drinkers found it difficult to remember which wine was Chardonnay (Pouilly Fuisse, from the Maconnais) and which wine was Sauvignon Blanc (Pouilly Fumé, from the Loire).

So, instead, people just say 'Sancerre please' and know what they're gonna get.

I also think that Sancerre is more friendly when young, while Fumé, being a more serious wine, requires a bit of patience to really strut its stuff.

Now, I'm certainly not trying to start a war here, and BY ALL MEANS please continue to order Sancerre and know that I'm just as big a fan of well-made Sancerre as anyone, but today I want to challenge its spot at the center of the universe with what is easily the most complete glass of Sauvignon for the money that I've tasted in a long time.

Whenever I have the Sancerre/Fumé discussion, Marc Deschamps is the producer I hold up as the example of just how great Fumé can be, so wines from this estate have always graced my shelves.

Just yesterday, though, I tasted their stunningly good 'Vinealis' cuvée from the reference-point 2014 vintage and, after one sip, I committed to all they had left.

It has a deeper, more yellow color than you might expect, near-perfect Sauvignon aromatics, intense, focused minerality and a beautifully viscous/oily texture which, for me, has always been one of Fumé's hallmarks.  All the while, it exhibits that wonderfully restrained elegance.

This isn't a glass of grass-infused grapefruit juice, this isn't a 'drink', this is the perfect companion to some raw bar or seared scallops (or whatever else) that you'll ever encounter.

This is the 'benchmark' for Sauvignon in my book.


Matt Franco

MCF Rare Wine, Ltd
249 West 13th Street
New York 10011