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If you are hankering for some fine French wine and food, you really should consider the Loire Valley region of central France. You may even find a bargain. I hope that you'll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour in which we review a white Sancerre wine based on the Sauvignon Blanc grape from the eastern part of the Loire Valley.

The Loire is France's longest river. Among eleven France's wine-growing regions the Loire Valley number three in total vineyard acreage. This region is subdivided into four sections going from west to east: Nantais, Anjou-Saumur, Touraine, and Central Vineyards, the home of the wine that's reviewed below. This region's major white grape is Sauvignon Blanc and major red grape is Pinot Noir.

Bourges is a town of over seventy thousand people that's almost in the center of France. It's an old style market town with a high and mighty Cathedral, the Thirteenth Century Cathedrale St-Etienne that is definitely worth seeing. It is a World Heritage Site. Make sure not to miss the Fifteenth Century Palais Jacques-Coeur (Palace) that was used as a model for several New York City Fifth Avenue mansions. For natural beauty visit the marshes of the Voiselle and Yevre rivers.

Before reviewing the Loire wine and imported cheeses that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region. Start with Salade de Faisan (Pheasant Salad). For your second course savor Noisette de Biche (Deer Medallions). And as dessert indulge yourself with Poire Rotie au Beurre (Pear Roasted in Butter).

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Marnier-LaPostolle Chateau de Sancerre 2003 12.5% alcohol about $19

Let's start by quoting the marketing materials. Tasting Note: Straw yellow color; grapefruit and mineral notes on the note; clean and refreshing citrus/grapefruit and herbal flavors. Serving Suggestion: Shellfish; goat's cheese dishes; veggie dishes. And now for my review.

My first meal consisted of poached salmon-colored trout in red pepper (the vegetable, not the spice) sauce with boiled rice. The wine tasted like a Chablis, full of lemon and steel with some herbal notes. When I tried it with a salad composed of Clementines, baby spinach, pear, and mango accompanied by a sweet mustard dressing the Sancerre became more acidic while retaining its flintiness. It took on floral aspects when faced with home-made (my grapes, someone else's) jelly.

The second meal was a purchased organic spinach pizza. The wine was floral, round, and even a bit sweet. It was quite pleasant. With an apple-rhubarb tart the Sancerre was nicely acidic and feathery.

The third pairing involved a lightly sauteed chicken breast, boiled rice, and a spicy tomato-based Turkish salad. It was round, light, and quite long. Then I added a Tunisian hot pepper sauce (harissa) to the bland meat. Interestingly enough the Sancerre became fruitier and somewhat shorter.

Usually I finish the bottle with two cheese. In this case I went to a cheese-less lasagna made with whole wheat noodles, tomato sauce, peas, and ground chicken. The wine was very fruity and quite round. Its refreshing acidity really cut the grease.

One of the classic wine and cheese pairings taught in schools and verified in practice is Sancerre and goat's milk cheese, preferably Crottin de Chavignol coming from the same area as the wine.

Final verdict. This is a fine wine. I really like Sancerre but find it somewhat overpriced. I am always ready to try another Sancerre, looking for better value.

Over the years Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but really prefers drinking fine German wine, along with friends and the right foods. He teaches sundry computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his global wine website with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.

Article Source: I Love French Wine and Food - A White Sancerre

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