50 Shades of Sancerre

Ladies, here’s the scenario: You have just finished the first book in the mega literary phenomenon trilogy, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” You are immediately about to dive into book number two, “Fifty Shades Darker, and all that talk about wine has you desirous of a glass of Sancerre to sip as you read. All of the sudden, you have the burning desire to drink like Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, the main characters.

But what is Sancerre and where do you start to figure out what kind you will like? Never fear, I’ve got you covered. Here is your introduction to the “Wine World of Grey.” Now, gentlemen, I know you may not have any idea what book I am taking about. But ask any woman in your life, she’ll know and can give you (if she’s willing) a brief, albeit probably sanitized, version of the plot. We girls have some secrets to keep. But if you want to drink wine like a jaw- dropping handsome, wildly successful, EC15 Eurocopter-flying, Audio R8-driving, piano-playing, private jet-owning, 27-year-old billionaire, take notes!

On one of Ana and Christian’s first dates, he orders a Sancerre, and you find them drinking it throughout the first book.

But What is Sancerre?

Sancerre is a place — a village in the Lorie Valley of France, to be specific. It’s also a wine made there from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. The soil in Sancerre comes from ancient oyster beds. So, the wines are usually characterized by minerality rather than big citrusy fruit flavors like the Sauvignon Blancs from the U.S. or New Zealand. Some of the best wines in the region carry the name Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. White Sancerre became widely popular in the U.S. after World War II, when American GIs were exposed to them and liked them because they were easy drinking and easy to pronounce. They are typically high in acidity. Pouilly Fumé, Sauvignon Blanc made from the village opposite of Sancerre, is so similar in taste that Ana and most everyone else, could often confuse it with Sancerre. Fume means smoke.

I don’t know if “Fifty Shades” author, E. L. James, picked Sancerre as one of Grey’s favorites. But the choice is spot on. Sancerre mirrors Grey’s personality. He is like a Sancerre: elegant and reserved, like a traditional Sancerre — yet savage like the grapes’ name. The word “Sauvignon” comes from the word “sauvage,” i.e., “wild.” That’s Grey: “sauvage.” Sancerre can be smoky like “grey” smoke and with notes of gun flint — “grey gun flint.” Sancerre can have hints of minerality, herbs, orange, lime, along with a smoky-smoldering essence like Grey’s eyes are so often described. Crisp and elegant that’s Grey and Sancerre.

How to Enjoy?

Serve slightly chilled, and pair with white-fleshed fish. Enjoy alone or as an aperitif. Drink it now or within three to five years of its vintage year. The followingprices range for good to exceptional examples — from around $20 and up:

Producers That Christian Grey Would Know and Collect

Pascale Jolivet: Pale in color, but vibrant in flavor, racy, even elegant.

Henry Natter: Natter produces a more “New World” a.k.a. American-style fruit focused Sancerre but still wonderful quality, and it’s a joy to drink. This wine can be enjoyed alone.

Vincent Delaporte: Classic herbal-mineral charac- teristics and kiwi aromas are expressed in this vintner’s Sancerre.

Domaine Vacheron: Citrus zest balanced with min- erality. The 2010 is made from 100 percent organic/ biodynamic Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

Didier Dagueneau: Produces a Pouliy Fumé called “Pur Sang.” Floral and herbal. It has been seen on the wine list at the Inn in Little Washington in the past. And if you take a wallet like Christian Grey’s to purchase it from your wine merchant, you’ll be glad you did.

Pascal Cotat: Try the 2010 Les Monts Damnes.

Now armed with your shopping list, off to purchase new finds in perhaps your own Charlie Tango. Cheers and enjoy. Or I should I say: “Laters, Babe!” ?

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