Originally published in Taste&Flair September 2018
The village of Sancerre, overlooking the Loire river, has a population of less than 2,000. Yet the wines produced from the 16.27 km2 area of Sancerre are known worldwide. The two grape varietals that are grown there are Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, yet when you ask for a Sancerre you are getting a blend of a unique terroir.
The vineyards in the 21-hectare estate of the Laloue family are located just outside Sancerre. Here there is a combination of different terroirs. There is siliceous clay at the top of the slopes that lends mineral notes reminiscent of gunflint to the wines, which tend to be rather closed at first. Over time, their spicy aromas and flavours shine through.
In mid-slope there are caillottes, which are particularly stony and limestone- based. Their location favours early ripening of the grapes and the wines from this terroir express floral notes, along with black fruit, especially blackcurrant. These soft wines can be enjoyed even when young.
At the bottom of the slopes there are iron-rich, sandy clay soils with very few stones, from which wines with great aromatic finesse are made that develop floral and fruity notes.
In addition, the Laloues own a 0.2 ha. site with a flint-based soil overlying a clay subsoil in which 1,166 Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted in 1990. This is where the grapes that go into their signature 1166 wine grow.
All this not only imparts special characteristics to the vines that flourish – kept very low on the rolling hills in this part of France – but also to the way the grapes are treated after the harvest and then the wine-making process leading up to the final product.
Domaine Serge Laloue is a small family business totally focused on producing wines in limited production with great pride and passion. Started by the father, Serge, it is now run by a brother and a sister, Franck and Christine, who are devoted to the care of their vines and to producing a range of truly outstanding wines.
Yet, each year these wines will vary, depending on what part of the 21-hectare estate the vines grow, and the quality of the grapes harvested in that particular year. Both Serge and Franck studied their terroirs and sought to bring the best out of them, using natural techniques and minimising the use of artificial control of their vineyards. Probably their best wine is the cuvée 1166, which is aged for 11 months in 600-litre oak barrels. Who says a white wine does not age well? The culmination of any wine-tasting at the Laloue winery is a 10-year-old barrel-aged 1166. Other wines in their portfolio, apart from the white, red and rosé blends are Silex, Les Poitevinnes and another red, Les Roties.
If you happen to be in Sancerre, you can also visit their new shop, just off the main square, where you can taste before you buy.
Stephen Rausi has been importing wines from the Laloues for more than 20 years. He appreciates their quality and the efficiency with which they deal with his requests. “These are wines for connoisseurs at reasonable prices,” he said.
Domaine Serge Laloue is a small family business totally focused on producing wines in limited production with great pride and passion.