“Oak is good… but wine is better.” That’s how one of our vignerons answered a question a few years ago about how he uses oak. We know what he means, and we still see too many winemakers fall into the trap of overoaking.
Today’s cuvée is a red Sancerre that spends a year in oak barrels (none new), called “Esprit de la Garenne.” We were skeptical — the Pinot Noir fruit in Garenne’s unoaked Sancerre rouge is so pure and refreshing that we assumed oak would ruin it. But they’ve managed to weave spice into the fruit beautifully, and we couldn’t pass it up.
It’s not red Burgundy; it’s not even traditional red Sancerre. But one thing’s for sure: it’s simply delicious.
Garenne makes less than 200 cases of this wine per year, and the current release 2016 is drinking beautifully. The nose shows cinnamon, cloves, rose petals, and intense cherry liqueur. The oak comes across as spice and smoothness. The mouth is punchy and silky with well built tannins that have weathered their time in barrel beautifully.
We taste a lot of wine, particularly Pinot Noir — but even we can be surprised from time to time. This is a surprisingly attractive Pinot Noir with nice depth and a summer weight. Serve it alongside Garenne’s white Sancerre with cheese, crackers, and a bit of charcuterie.
Garenne Sancerre rouge “Esprit” 2016
bottle price: $29
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