Sancerre is a French AOC for wine produced in the surrounding area of Sancerre in the eastern part of the Loire valley, southeast of Orléans. Almost the entire appellation lies on the left bank of the Loire valley, opposite Pouilly-Fume. Sancerre is primarily regarded for Sauvignon Blanc, though Pinot Noir is also grown, accounting for around 20% of the region's production, making mostly early drinking light red wines under the designation of Sancerre Rouge. A Rosé style wine from Pinot Noir is also produced in a style similar to Beaujolais.
White Sancerre was one of the original AOCs awarded in 1936, with the same area being designated for red wines on 23 January 1959. The AOC area has expanded greatly over the years, most recently on 18 March 1998. A series of small valleys cut through the chalk hills, each with their own soil profiles, microclimate and terroir. In the east are the flint soils that make mineral, long-lived wines. Between the town and Verdigny the soil consists of marl and gravel 'les caillottes' producing fruity, well balanced wines. And in the southwest, away from the river towards Menetou-Salon, the chalky 'terres blanches' (white ground) produce fuller wines.
As a cool continental climate region, one of the main viticultural threats in Sancerre is springtime frost. Throughout most of the growing season the nearby Loire River to the east and forest to the west help moderate temperatures. Herbaceous styles of Sauvignon Blanc are more common with large, leafy canopies, while producers wishing to minimize these qualities may need wide, open canopies.
The age of vine can also contribute to how much grassy/ herbaceous character the resultant wine may have as well as how early the grapes are harvested. The focus of Sancerre winemakers is usually to express the pure fruit flavours of Sauvignon Blanc and the natural terroir of the region with very little adjustments taking place in the winery during winemaking - with most of the wines in this area being produced dry and unoaked.