The Sunday Magazine: Sancerre Rose Wines

Here at Stately Colognoisseur Manor as we reach the end of the dog days of 2017 we start looking for ways to alleviate the heat and humidity. By this point in the summer I’ve had my fill of fresh corn, lemonade, and white wines. I start to want alternative summer refreshers. A few years ago, on a trip to buy some wine for an end-of-summer outing I was falling back on my old set of citrus forward whites to bring. I began talking to the wine manager and he said he had a suggestion as we walked back towards the rose section.

While I knew deep in my heart there are excellent representatives of this style of wine I had been scarred by the explosion of bad white zinfandel in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. I called it “pink swill” as it brought out the worst in my wine snob nature. I would marvel as the bottle would empty faster than anything else around it. I found a few different versions of roses which I could use as a defense mechanism when I was asked to bring the pink stuff to a party.

While accompanying the wine manager on this occasion he stopped in front of a set of bottles labeled “Sancerre” but with pink wine in the bottle. I was interested almost immediately. Sancerre is one of my favorite wines to go with seafood. The great majority of Sancerre is the French version of Sauvignon Blanc as that grape accounts for a huge majority of what is grown in this Central France region in the Loire Valley. Accounting for about 10-15% of the acreage in Sancerre is some pinot noir plantings which is used to produce Sancerre Rouge and Sancerre Rose. Surprisingly I prefer the pink to the red when it comes to this version of pinot noir.

The first bottle I purchased was Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Rose. If I classified white zinafandel as “pink swill” I had found the opposite in this salmon colored wine. It had a fruity sweetness of cherries and strawberries with herbs providing contrast. This will be the easiest one to find as it has the largest distribution.

There are other good producers worth seeking out. Look for Domaine Delaporte, Domaine Girard, Domaine Philippe Rambault, Domaine Sautereau, and Le Roi des Pierres.

These are delightful accompaniments to cold meals where you just don’t feel like turning on the oven in August. They are also great in place of the typical deck or beach sippers if you’re tired of your favorite whites by now.

I leave it to 1975 band The Fabulous Poodles to give the best wine advice for these dog days, “Think Pink!”

Mark Behnke