The Origins of Sauvignon Blanc – Inside Sancerre Wine & the Loire Valley of France
This is really the story of me falling
in love with these wines, the Sauvignon Blancs, the Cabernet Francs, the Chenin Blancs, the Muscadet, the red and white wines that you find in the Loire Valley of France. But I think beyond those wines, what I really fell in love with was the region itself and its people. What is up guys? This is Julien, the
French winemaking guy who makes wine videos here on YouTube, yes : wine videos!
Although, we’re not going to be talking only about wine today because, yes, I’ve
got something very important to tell you you’ve understood it I am in love. I was
in the Loire Valley a couple of months ago, and I literally fell in love with not only the
wines, the fantastic wines that you can find there, but the whole region that’s absolutely just stunning. There’s so many wonders all around, and also the people there. So this is the story of how it all happened. Yes, I do live in France, but I do live in the very south where it’s nice and sunny on the coast, then I don’t get that many, not enough opportunities to go more north, where there are some other fantastic wines as well. But I had the opportunity to spend
four days in the Loire going down the river and exploring its wine countries,
and I definitely wanted to take you with me, because, yes, there are different wine
countries in the Loire valley ; there are some red wine countries, there are some white wine countries, there are some sweet wine countries, and there are some
sparkling wine countries. So I took that opportunity to take you with me and visit this area and, oh boy, was it all so worth it! We’ll get back to the different styles.
I just want to get you and start the journey I’ll explain things as we go.
So, let’s do just that, and let’s go! Bonjour, morning of day one. I am about
to start my four day tour of the Loire Valley. I just arrived last night in
Sancerre, in the upper Loire. It was all dark and foggy so I couldn’t really get a feel for the place Now, what a surprise waking up this morning ; I woke up in this hotel that is called “The Panoramic”, and, you’ve guessed it, it’s got a panoramic view of the vineyards of Sancerre. Look at what I woke up to this
morning!!! I mean, the video possibly doesn’t do
it justice, but waking up to this panoramic landscape of vineyards just put me
in the mood for visiting and learning more, and tasting some wine. It’s early in the morning, so I don’t really feel like tasting some wines just right now, but dear, do I feel like going out there, and visiting those vineyards and learning
more about the people that make wine here. What a way to wake up and, straight in,
being, feeling like I am in the heart of the French wine culture, at the heart of,
you know, the Loire Valley. I mean, it looks so beautiful! I think it’s gonna be a fantastic amazing four days touring the Loire. Let’s go and have a look at all of
those beautiful vineyards… So, I had a hint at it this morning at
the hotel but the vineyard landscapes here are absolutely beautiful. You can
see the village, right the village of Sancerre behind me, where I was this
morning, and then here you got a view of the Loire Valley River. It’s absolutely
covered in mainly Sauvignon Blanc grapes here. I mean, if you come here to Sancerre, just go up on the hills and have a look at the vineyard areas. It’s just superb.
The Loire Valley is just down there as well. You can probably see it. I’ll show
you a little bit more Now, here I’m on a special spot that is particularly characteristic of the type of soil that they have here in Sancerre, that is
literally covered in this very special rare Silex stone. It’s a very hard stone and that’s what gives the Sauvignon Blancs here from Sancerre the uniqueness, the unique minerality
in the expression of the wine This stone, you don’t find it
anywhere else or very often in the world of wine, especially in the world of Sauvignon Blanc wine. You don’t find it very often in New Zealand, if at all. You don’t find it often in California, if at all. Here, in Sancerre, vineyards are literally
covered in silex (flint) stones and that’s what gives the Sauvignon Blancs
from Sancerre, here, from the Loire Valley, their uniqueness and their refinement, the
finesse in their expressions. You can imagine how hard it is to work on those vineyards. Let’s have a quick look at it… Did you see, can you see how much stone there is in those vineyards? Like it’s literally, virtually completely
completely covered in silex stones, and we’re on a hill as well, meaning that the rain drains quite well. So, I mean, rare rare rare vineyard site, right here! Me again, back in my office with my
glasses of wine as I’m editing this video, and putting together all of the content
that I brought back from the Loire. Now, sorry, I am interrupting this vlog-style video because I know a lot of you are going to be tempted to leave the
video in a couple of minutes. But I think, it’s actually when and where it starts getting really interesting and deep into the wine What follows is the real story of Sauvignon Blancs’ birthplace, deeply rooted in the heart of France. The very story that you are about to see, nobody has ever told it to you, at least not in video in that format. There are wine courses out there on YouTube, master classes, and so on about Sauvignon Blanc, but none is going as deep as you are going to witness right now. We’re going to be talking about
the descendants of the people who have made Sauvignon Blanc what it is in Sancerre for 500 years or more. Just to give you a little
more context in depth to what you’re going to be watching, I’m
realizing as I’m putting together this video that this is going to end up being
a very long extensive video. So I’m going to split it into three episode series as
I go down the Loire river and explore the different wines that they make there.
One of the reasons this takes a little while is that a brought back for you
some interviews of local wine growers, because I think this is the best way to
really get to understand the place in a wine, to hear first-hand from the local
people who actually live with the wine, live for making the wine, hear from them
directly. I know interviews can feel a little
boring to watch, but I think if you’re passion enough to actually hear and pay
attention to what these people are saying it’s absolutely fascinating.
Because they share the history going back centuries and centuries as they
share in-depth views about their wine: how they taste, what food they like to pair it with.
And, here in Sancerre, in particular, it’s absolutely fascinating
to hear the story of the very humble beginnings of the wine.
So, I met with arguably two of the most prominent producers in Sancerre, the Mellot and the Bourgeois, and I’m very grateful they gave us their time to film those
fascinating interviews. So stick around to hear what they have to say,
if only, for anything, just as a respect for them. But let’s go and get
back to the video right now… I’ve shown you what is so special about
the terroir of Sancerre, but I want to understand a little bit more about where
does the Sauvignon Blanc come from and what makes it so special here in the
Upper Loire Valley. So, I am here with Catherine Corbeau Mellot
who runs the Joseph Mellot property and estate here which is one of the staples, one of the very famous and
important wine producers, one of the leading wine producers here in Sancerre,
to understand a bit better. And she’s going to tell us more about the history of
Sancerre and a bit more about her work and we’re going to cover some of the
different wines that are made from Sauvignon Blanc here. Catherine is not
very comfortable in English so we’re going to switch back to French and we’re
gonna switch back to some subtitles Thank You Catherine for welcoming me. So, here, I am in a 12th century underground cellar, where they age and mature some of the top quality wines here at Joseph Mellot. So I think we are at the end of the fermentation process
here. So 12th century underground cellar I think we’re quite a few meters underground here,
so you can see also you can feel how traditional the winemaking, or
part of the winemaking process is here in Sancerre and at Joseph Mellot in particular.
I mean they’ve been making wine in this very underground cellar for
800 years or so… I mean it’s just unbelievable! It’s absolutely beautiful as well and
it smells a little bit oaky, a little bit, yeah, like typical of those
underground cellars. So the atmosphere is just very very special… I am here with Jean-Marie Bourgeois, who has inherited
this long long history of winemaking tradition. Here is one of the most famous producers here in Sancerre. So, I’ve come here to understand and
share with you guys, well, all the know-how, all the…
everything that this man here, right here, has learned about Sauvignon Blanc, about
his terroir of Sancerre. I’m so excited to meet and hear from this man!
He doesn’t speak English, so we’re gonna have to switch into French, but you can follow
along with the subtitles right here and turn them on on youtube if they’re not on.
And, yeah, let’s jump right into it… So, Jean-Marie, bonjour!
Thank you very much for having us… So, when you arrive in Sancerre – and it’s a nice little tiny little rural village on top of a hill; beautiful village! -, it’s nice to go for a walk around the village of Sancerre, to get an idea of, you know, the village and a bit of the history, and, you know, find your way around. But then, there’s a place that is really, I’ve been told, is really nice to start understanding what Sancerre is all about.
And I’ve been told it’s a great place. I’m going to meet the director, so she’s going to explain us what is inside this museum and what is the spirit behind the creation of
this museum, that is run, I think, by the winemakers and the city of Sancerre.
I’m going to go and, you know, check out what’s inside this museum and whether
it’s worth it or not. Let’s go… So the “Maison des Sancerre” is actually an interactive
museum. So, it’s a very modern museum. not It’s not a dusty museum and annoying museum;
it’s really fun! The idea is to make the link, to create a link between the city of Sancerre,
when you arrive in Sancerre, and the vineyards and the winemakers.
So, understand all the… well, actually, basically everything about this appellation: what are the grape varieties, what the winegrowers are doing… And this is happening thanks to different interactive activities you can find at this museum such as a 4D movie or an interactive map for instance. It’s also open to everybody; it’s open to wine lovers, but it’s also open to children. The visit is ending with, of course, a tasting of Sancerre, and there’s also a shop, a souvenir shop to find something nice to bring back home. Great, wonderful!
Yes, so, essentially this is like one hour long little tour. It’s very nice, very simple to understand, and there’s this great 4D cinema movie that
sort of shakes you around a little bit, but presents the winemaking process, here in Sancerre, but it reaches valleys and other places as well. So in five minutes
you get around the winemaking process, and you get this great map of Sancerre
that moves around as well and that explains you the different sub-areas.
So, it’s just essentially a great way to find your way around and, you know,
understand where you’ve landed, here in Sancerre, and what is special in the geography: the different hills, the different, you know, the positions of the village around the area. I mean, yeah, very very very well done.
I’ve actually traveled many many wine regions around the world, and I don’t think I’ve seen
that many that have such a place to sort of understand everything – the grape
varieties, the styles of wine – before you actually go and visit the wineries…
Thank you very much. Oh yeah! This Sancerre wine by Joseph Mellot, this one right here, smells and tastes absolutely beautiful! But that was it for me today. In about a week or so, with the next episode of my trip in the Loire, I’m going to take you down the Loire River, a step downwards towards the ocean, to Vouvray and Bourgeuil, the lands where they grow the Chenin Blanc,
the white grape, and the Cabernet Franc, the red grape, where some of the best wines made from those grapes are made in France, of course, but also in the world. It should be absolutely fascinating also.
So, make sure to stay tuned to the channel for that ! Also, if you’ve enjoyed this video – I suppose if you watch this far, maybe you did enjoy it -, please share it with your fellow wine loving friends
who might be interested in learning more about this. And I will see you soon in
the wonderful world of wine… See you soon! Cheers! Bye bye. Au revoir…