2018 Sancerre Blanc, Cuvée Marcel Henri, Domaine Chotard, Loire, France
I am always on the hunt for elite sauvignon blanc, but this is not as easy a task as it ought to be, given there are oceans of examples out there. Most leave me feeling unfulfilled, lacking in drive on the nose, mid-palate traction and drama on the finish. These traits were commonplace 20 or 30 years ago when great terroir did its job and winemaking was less scripted, but today, with selected yeasts, modern viticulture and less rigorous site selection, sauvignon is grown on any patch of dirt going and production by rote eliminates individuality. No one wants to drink vinonymous wines.
When I sound the trumpets, I mean it, and so this wine is a genuine revelation. Made from two specific parcels of old vines, one of which was planted by winemaker Simon Chotard’s great-grandfather, this wine is vinified and then matured in large, old oak barrels, or foudres, and also steel tanks for 18 months before it is bottled and released. This combination of unique fruit, gentle handling and patient production has resulted in a genuine work of art.
With a score of 18.5/20 in my notes and far too many mentions of the word “classy”, this is a thrilling discovery and the first time I have written up a Chotard wine. If you are new to this estate or indeed if you know them well, then you simply must taste this ethereal and extraordinary creation. It is my sauvignon blanc of the year.
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)