Colin and Christopher’s Sancerre trip (part two) – buggy mud heaven

by Charles Lea

Saturday afternoon

Of course after all this hard work tasting… ahem! …a much needed lunch was in order and again Madame Delaporte delivered. At this point, and to our amazement, it snowed very heavily for the next few hours, turning the village and its surroundings into a Winter Wonderland.

With a few glasses of Dutch courage in the form of yet more Maxime Blanc 2008 we then set out to play with Jean-Yves new toys… “the buggies”. After some difficulty in finding a helmet big enough for ‘grosse tête’ Patch we, with Jean-Yves and Gilles as navigators, set off in these vehicles (which were like go-karts on steroids!). With my buggy only being 250cc and the other being 500cc, I was a tad down on power. Colin stated that ‘I drove like his grandmother’- I thought this was a little harsh. They were seriously great fun, and in fact whizzing along at speed around the hills of Sancerre was a great way to see the make up of the land.

Returning (frozen!) to the house, Jean-Yves first hosed us down in the yard, and then pulled out of his father’s cellar a bottle of 1982 and 1985 Sancerre Blanc. Colin and I looked nervously at each other and thought surely these would be over-the-hill or at best unexciting. The 1982 was fresh and still very lively, but the 1985 was incredible, it had great fruit, a limey zestiness that completely belied its age. It was a revelation, and with some Foie Gras would have been delicious. We certainly learnt something new there – white Sancerre, when made well, can age!

This was followed by a rather boozy meal at an Italian restaurant and a few more drinks in another Sancerre bar. Lets just say…“Ce qui se passe en tournée reste en tournée!”
With a slight ‘mal à la  tête’ we were then treated to a visit to the cellar of Henri Bourgeois, they are the biggest grower in Sancerre. They seem to own most of the top end of the tiny village of Chavignol, and the money invested into this winery and tasting rooms seemed substantial, to put it mildly. We were given a lesson on the effects that various different oak barrels have on Sauvignon Blanc (something that Bourgeois is experimenting with at the moment). The winemaker was a very charming man and had some very well made wines. This bulk form of production proved to be quite a useful comparison when compared with the more boutique approach of the Delaporte estate. Bigger isn’t necessarily better.
Yet another long lunch (yes, Roast Beef of all things!) was then had before we set off to the train station for the sad return home. With only an hour to spare Jean-Yves very kindly took us on a whirlwind tour of Pouilly-Fumé (just over the Loire River from Sancerre) to see the major sights. It was actually amazing how much he managed to cover in that space of time – lucky the Gendarmes and their speed-guns were not around! Château du Tracy was particularly picturesque, it is postcard-like at the best of times but with the snow it was simply stunning.

What a fantastic trip we both had, and we would certainly recommend a visit to Sancerre and the quaint village of Chavignol. We would like to thank the Delaportes for their incredible hospitality; it was a weekend neither Colin nor I will forget for a very long time!