Sancerre, Loire Valley, France, $37
Tasting this wine was like touching the third rail: electrifying. The Kimmeridgian marl, with a higher clay content in the chalky soil, gives the wine immediate up-front power, but there is also a long, complex finish and, well, sheer joy to this wine. I didn’t want to spit it out; I didn’t want to swallow. I just wanted to caress it with my tongue, and I don’t care who takes that out of context.
Vintage 59/Country Vintner: Available in Virginia at Arrowine, the Tasting Room Wine Bar & Shop in Middleburg and Reston; on the list at Ashby Inn & Restaurant in Paris, Bistro Vivant in McLean.
Francois et Jean-Marie Cherrier, Les Chailloux Cuvee Vieilles Vignes 2011
Sancerre, Loire Valley, France, $21
This single-vineyard wine is grown on old vines in a mixture of the three main types of soil: silex, gravel and chalky clay. Yields are kept low, and the wine never sees wood. That lends freshness. While the silex is evident in a flinty character, the chalk provides structure and the gravel gives elegance. A delicious wine and quite a value.
Dionysus: Available in the District at D’Vines, Wagshal’s Market, Whole Foods Market at Foggy Bottom, P Street and Tenleytown; on the list at J&G Steakhouse, Melrose. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s, Bradley Food & Beverage and Cork & Fork in Bethesda; Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; Wine Cellars of Annapolis; on the list at Tavira in Chevy Chase. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington; Balducci’s in Alexandria and McLean; J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese in Richmond; Wegmans in Leesburg; Whole Foods Market in Alexandria, Tysons Corner and Vienna; Wine Cabinet in Reston; Wine Guild of Charlottesville.
Domaine Vincent Delaporte 2010
Sancerre, Loire Valley, France, $27
This beautiful wine offers red fruit flavors and excellent acidity to make it both compelling and refreshing. There is a bit of the aggressiveness of underripe sauvignon blanc, but it is tamed by minerality and depth with a citrusy edge that carries the wine through a long finish. Local distributors have begun offering the 2011 vintage, but don't pass up the 2010 if you can find it.
Vineyard Brands/Bacchus in the District and Maryland; Country Vintner in Virginia: Available in the District at Chat’s Liquors, Circle Wine & Liquor, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Wide World of Wines; on the list at Bistrot le Zinc, Equinox, Johnny’s Half Shell,
Tabard Inn. Available in Maryland at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis; Graul’s Wine & Spirits in Baltimore; Jason’s Wine & Spirits, Pine Orchard Wine in Ellicott City; State Line Liquors in Elkton; Wine Merchant in Lutherville. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s, Unwined in Alexandria; Classic Wines in Great Falls; Wegmans in Fairfax and Woodbridge.
Domaine Reverdy-Ducroux, Les Vignes Silex 2010
Sancerre, Loire Valley, France, $22
Silex soils give this wine a sense that it hails from deep within the earth. It’s less fruity than the others, yet still compelling in a broody, intellectual way.
Winebow: Available in the District at Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Potomac Wine & Spirits.
Henri Bourgeois, La Porte du Caillou 2011
Sancerre, Loire Valley, France, $20
A leading producer from Chavignol, a town near Sancerre also noted for its goat cheese (an excellent match for sauvignon blanc), Bourgeois makes a full line of wines from throughout the region. Most widely available here is this lovely Porte du Caillou, but it is worth seeking out Le MD de Bourgeois (★★★, $30), which packs a punch from Kimmeridgian soils of the terres blanches.
M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Bell Wine & Spirits, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Watergate Wine & Beverage. Available in Maryland at Camelot Liquors, Cork ’N Bottle in Laurel; Eastport Liquors in Annapolis; Friendship Wine & Liquor in Abingdon; Nick’s of Clinton in Waldorf; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Preserve Wine & Spirits in Hanover; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; Village Green Spirit Shop in Ellicott City; on the list at Cafe Normandie in Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean; Cork & Fork in Gainesville; Crystal City Wine Shop; Grateful Red Wine & Gift Shop in Arlington; Vienna Vintner; on the list at Evo Bistro in McLean, Can Can in Richmond.