If you fancy an alternative to Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé that's close in both style and origin, this refreshing dry white from brothers Clément and Florian Berthier is spot on.
Coteaux du Giennois not only makes its white wines from Sauvignon Blanc like Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé but practically rubs shoulders with both appellations on the banks of the Loire. Yet, while they’re two of France’s best known white wines, Coteaux du Giennois is little seen, despite a long and at times regal history (the Royal Court of King Philippe II Auguste in Paris bought vineyards there in 1218).
Why the relative obscurity? Size mostly. There are more than 3,000 hectares of vineyard in Sancerre and 1,379 ha in Pouilly-Fumé compared to 179ha in Coteaux du Giennois and just 34 growers. Coteaux du Giennois also sells nearly three-quarters of its small production in France, while Sancerre exports 70% and Pouilly-Fumé exports more than half.
Back to the wine. Although the nose isn’t as punchy as Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé (which could be partly a reflection of the warm 2020 vintage), the wine as a whole is a delight: spicy, sweet green notes, juicy apricot and vibrant lemon wrapped around a texture that has been lightly plumped up by a few months’ ageing on lees.
It would go with all sorts of summery foods – salads (as always, go easy on the vinegar), crab cakes, seared scallops, herby grilled fish, fattoush (try Ottolenghi’s recipe), pasta with ricotta, fresh tomato or peas and herbs, or goat’s cheeses. 13%. Empty bottle weight: 409g.
Taste the Difference Coteaux du Giennois Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Centre-Loire, France