Went to an awesome event the other night, where we got to blend our own Sancerre wines! Winemaker Pierre-Jean Sauvion brought samples of four Sauvignon Blancs (the grape in Sancerre) from different soils. It’s sometimes embarrassing to admit, but I totally geek out about soil. The kind of soil you plant a grape in will always affect the taste of the wine, sometimes majorly and sometimes just subtly.
- Terre Blanches: chalk and clay, which gives the wine good acidity. I tasted cantaloupe and white flowers.
- Caillottes: chalk and rocks, which makes the wine fruity. Much more intense, riper fruit than the Terre Blanches sample, with less acid.
- Griottes: chalk and sand, which softens and sweetens. Saline notes in this one, which Jean-Pierre called “sweaty.”
- Silex: gives a lot of minerality and length. The black obsidian minerality screamed out of this glass – very bold.
After we tasted, then we had to mix and match any amount of these four samples to create a well-balanced wine. Way easier said than done! I was mixing and dumping and mixing and dumping. I loved the acid of the Terres Blanches but needed the fruit of the Caillottes to balance it. I threw in a tiny bit of the Griottes for some complexity, but had no idea what to do with the bold Silex one so steered away from it – the move that would doom me! Final blend: 40% Terres Blanches, 40% Caillottes and 20% Griottes.
Once we were all done blending, Jean-Pierre came along to assess our blends. Show time! He said mine was too bitter (which I sort of agreed with) and would’ve benefited from more Caillottes. The blend he was going to make at the winery was 50% Griottes, 20% Terres Blanches, 20% Caillottes and 10% Silex. However, once he went through this whole blending exercise with us, he decided to add 5% more of the fruity Caillottes and 5% less of the Silex.
We tasted the blend he made – it had a great fruity nose but it was perfectly toned down. This blending stuff was way harder than I thought. Seems like it would be obvious, but you really do have to mix and match in all different proportions. Truly an art!