I will just have to preface this entry by saying that the entry was written first and the painting took about two months to get to a place that reflected what I was after. Also, the trip to Porgutal and Galicia, a wedding, sickness and general life.
"...a shower of lemon and lime; drops onto salmon skin with thyme; on blinding white stone, brushed by baked fields -grasses, wildflowers and herbs- the lone unctuous heart of a blood orange split open creek side to the sun's delight..."
Following on the heels of the Peconic Bay Sauvignon Blanc I opened a Sancerre from Domaine Baptiste Auchere and in doing so I was consciously setting up a contrast between new and old world reflections of how the varietal is expressed. Sadly I thought I had other images of the bottle saved but this is the only image I have from that day.
So perhaps I'll keep this entry short since the last one was long and I'm flying out to Portugal and Spain this afternoon.
It's no surprise to anyone who has ever had Sauvignon Blanc that the wines it's made into from the New or Old World can be quite the opposite. But also if you're going to investigate a varietal to find what you're into, start with a few, contrast them against one another and always start with at least one from the heartland where the varietal gained prominence. It's by no means a rule but to know the past is to know the present and in this case, more so in the profile of the varietal than anything else.
For a little context, Sancerre sits just a bit east of the center in northern France, more specifically it is the most easterly part of the Loire Valley. It was once an area known for its reds made of Gamay and Pinot Noir due to its influence by the Duchy of Burgundy, but as phylloxera hit Sauvignon Blanc vines grafted better than its red counterparts and so now we think white wine with regards to this appellation. Sancerre is also, like Pouilly-Fume it's neighbor across the river (...fume = smoke), known for its limestone and chalk soils that imparts that flinty (mineral?) characteristic to its wines.
Situated in Bue in the eastern side of Sancerre, Domaine Auchere stands in continuous ownership by the Auchere family and currently it seams headed by Jean-Jacques Auchere. It's mentioned that the estate has 15 hectares of white planted on the slopes of limestone and chalk - but just to be safe, I found this information swimming in links that lead me no where. Unfortunately I can't seem to find much more detailed information on the winery, just that it's listed many places. As you can see from the photos the label hasn't changed much, kept simple, clean and straightforward; you can't really tell from the image, but the gold rim and coat of arms don't detract necessarily but they aren't adding anything either. This may be more to do with the sheen of the label paper in person: perhaps if the coat of arms and rim were slightly embossed or simply a done in a muted shade and matte, it wouldn't take away from the cleanliness of the overall look. I'm a little behind on the current vintage, acquiring the 2011 vintage, a wine pushing three years and one of the few wines known for keeping over long stretches of time.
The reason I pitted a Sancerre against the Peconic Bay is essentially because it's not only the old world opposite but its also considered the classic style of Sauvignon Blanc. Sancerre remains the benchmark for what we expect from the varietal and what we think winemakers aspire to duplicate, however, as the last ten plus years have changed the game, this might be more of a taste preference and a kind of illusion: it's fine to aspire but realistically one might have a product that will never duplicate these traits because of environment primarily and philosophically one can come to the conclusion that good and great wine is not made any one way as there are many routes to the same end point. The wine certainly didn't disappoint, I was enamored by the wine as I sat with it, with air and a little warmth a smooth entrance into flint smoke redolent with hints of herbs, grasses, a little lemon-lime citrus brushed by the soft cool breeze through the plain; the very succinct sensation of wettness, of cold creek water over rocks at low tide, whisking up faint hints of the dirt beneath and letting the nearby grass and greens dry as you swirl, sniff and sip. It was the ephemeral moment equivalent of when you've been somewhere or met someone but loose it to it's quickly fleeting nature; it was exquisite. In retrospect, although I appreciated the Peconic Bay and would most certainly pick it up again, this one was more subtle and artful but not exactly for everyday drinking - you'd loose the qualities described and left jaded.
I'll try and do this more often, but I decided to add the sketch produced while sipping this wine. I don't normally because sometimes they're not all that impressive until painted, the colors and materials don't exactly live up to the image in my mind and would be inaccurate. But perhaps it's part of the process and it'd be best to show them more -we'll see....
This one was a one shot, occurred in one sitting and whether it was on the second day or the first I couldn't say -sometimes the impression on the first day is made in mind and then is drawn down the second, a sort of way to make sure it's sincere. The important thing to pull away from the sketch is to note the structure of the line work that gradually slides away at the bottom - the center a calm and controlled, delicate and austere dissipating into cloudiness and then slipping away as that sensation of wettness arrives on the palate. This is probably my most ambitious painting to date and I hope more are on the way.
Winery: Domaine Baptiste Auchere, Bue, 18 Rue De L Abbaye
Distributor: Baron Francois
PoP: Wine Warehouse, $15.99 (reg. $19.99)