Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Sancerrely Yours

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Sancerrely Yours

Article excerpt

VICTORIA MOORE on the new Parisian chic

Red Sancerre is tres a la mode in Paris just now. To be truly fashionable, one also has to eat crumble (pronounced "crooombul"), a refined version of the stodgy English dessert, which the French make with all manner of fruits, from mango to rhubarb. The other dessert du moment is molineaux. On the plate, this looks like a tiny chocolate pudding prettily dusted with icing sugar. When sliced, gooey chocolate mixture oozes out in such a manner that men who have drunk too much red Sancerre begin to betray the workings of their minds by using the word "smearing". Anyway, all of these things taste very good, but what an achievement it is for a wine that suffers a double disadvantage to have become so very chic.

Sancerre is not, after all, in the same league as Bordeaux. (A Parisian wine list -- red half only -- typically consists of between 15 and 20 wines from this region, plus four or five others shrugged in, not quite as an afterthought, more as a just-in-case.) Then, Sancerre is principally known for its dry white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, and Parisians don't seem to have much truck with white wine, tending to assume that everyone's default wine setting is "red". Perhaps, on reflection, this is how Sancerre rouge, as they have it, came to be so hot. According to The Oxford Companion to Wine, edited by Jancis Robinson: "Sancerre's dramatically simple, piercing Sauvignon flavours of gooseberry and nettle were initially introduced into the bistros of Paris as a sort of white wine equivalent to Beaujolais."

Now everyone has begun to demand the red version which, because it is best served young (I drank several bottles of the 1999 vintage last weekend) and very slightly chilled, has become something of a Beaujolais usurper.

Incidentally, if you're sticking with Beaujolais, don't expect that particular word to appear on the wine list. …

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