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.
Jean-Pierre was currently in the middle of blending this year’s vintage at his family’s winery. So first he walked us through the different subsoils in the vineyards, as we tasted along bien sûr:
- 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!