Located around a medieval hilltop town on the left bank of the Loire Valley, Sancerre is renowned for its crisp, refreshing white wines. For most of its history, however, the French subregion was associated with red wine production. It wasn’t until the 1970s, and a surge of popularity of its white wines in Parisian bistros, that Sancerre became synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc.
Most wine drinkers associate Sancerre Blanc with acidity, expressive aromas of gooseberries and grass, and stony, mineral character. Warmer vintages produce richer, riper styles with hints of tropical fruits.
Quality Sancerre is remarkably versatile, pairing with seafood, salads, and the region’s famed goat’s milk cheeses. It also makes a delicious aperitif.
Ready to see what the fuss is all about? Here are seven fantastic Sancerre Blanc wines, all costing less than $30.
This is a racy white with notes of green fruit, lemon, and flint, and a rich texture gained from three months of aging on lees (the leftover yeast from fermentation). “There’s some floral action going on,” one VinePair taster commented, while another craved food, remarking: “I want salami.” A briny note suggests olives and salty cheese would also make for wonderful pairings, but this bottle can easily be enjoyed long before any food reaches the table. Average Price: $29.
Grapes for this wine are grown on 30-year-old vines planted in a mix of limestone and clay soils. Like the Domaine de La Perrière, this wine gains a rich texture from 90 days of lees contact. White flowers and gooseberries are predominant aromas, and green fruit and white pepper linger on the palate, providing a crisp, lasting finish. Tasters enjoyed this wine’s concentrated flavor and complex mineral texture. Average Price: $24.
Made with grapes grown in six different communes, vinification for this wine takes place entirely in stainless-steel tanks. It’s a common technique in the region, producing the fresh style Sancerre is known for. This bottle has lime, fresh herbs, and white flower aromas. “It’s refreshing, but still rich and concentrated, and there’s also some soft, creamy notes there,” one taster commented. Average price: $28.
The southwest-facing, near-vertical slope of La Côte des Monts Damnés produces some of the finest Sancerre Blancs. The location and orientation of the slope help grapes reach a delicate tropical ripeness, while the Kimmeridgian soil (a mix of fossils and clay) adds a unique character. Henri Bourgeois is one of the most celebrated local producers. Its 2017 La Côte des Monts Damnés is bursting with citrus and gooseberry notes. Though it’s ready to drink now, this is one of the few Sancerres that could also benefit from a couple more years in bottle to develop further complexity. Average Price: $29.
Domaine des Vieux Pruniers is located two and a half miles outside Sancerre, in the village of Bué. Its vineyards are planted on steep hillsides, and the estate produces a classic style of Sancerre Blanc that’s acidic, expressive, and mineral-rich. Aromas include tart stone fruit and fresh herbs, while the palate has a delicious creamy quality. We recommend serving it with white fish cooked with brown butter, capers, and lemon. Average Price: $21.
For 10 generations and several hundred years, the Reverdy family has been making wine in Verdigny, one of Sancerre’s most celebrated communes. The La Reine Blanche has an attractive nose that mixes oyster brine and ocean notes with a hint of fresh herbs, including parsley stalk and lemon thyme. It has a concentrated green apple flavor and is bracingly acidic, with a chalky finish. Average Price: $24.
Owned by Henri Bourgeois since 1986, Domaine Laporte is now headed by Bourgeois’ grandsons, Arnaud and Cedric. The estate is certified organic, and produces concentrated Sauvignon Blancs with expressive profiles. On the nose, this wine has all the typical citrus fruit and fresh herb notes, while the palate is seasoned with steely mineral notes. Average Price: $28.