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Jean Max Roger Sancerre Rouge 2010
The Roger family has lived in Bué since the sixteenth century. The attractive village meanders up a narrow valley to the south west of Sancerre. Wine is the occupation of at least four fifths of the village; the commune has more land under vine than any other in Sancerre. It is famous for the Clos du Chêne Marchand and Le Grand Chemarin; vineyards shared by a number of growers including Jean-Max Roger, who has a major share of both.
After studying enology in Beaune for 5 years, Jean-Max returned to Bué in 1971 to run the family estate. Since then, this short, bearded and energetic vintner has worked diligently to increase the holdings and improve the quality of the wines. About 10 years ago he took an interest in the neighbouring appellation, Menetou Salon, and purchased a few hectares at Morogues. His specialty though remains Bué. The wines are renown for their elegance and richness. As a rule they are fat and intense. Those wines originating from Jean-Max's holdings in "Le Chêne Marchand" (Cuvée C.M.) and "Le Grand Chemarin" (Cuvée G.C.) are in a class of their own with extra depth and polish. (Unfortunately due to a lack of clearly defined boundaries there is no specific appellation for "Le Chêne Marchand" and "Le Grand Chemarin". Hence the terms "Cuvée C.M." and "Cuvée G.C." on the labels.)
There is another claim to fame in Bué, the local goat's cheese, or "Crottin" as it is called. At one time the population of goats in the village was larger than that of people ! Nearly every vigneron has a goat in his back yard and no one can dispute the fact that there is no better gastronomic association locally than Sancerre with "crottin".
Jean-Max Roger also has 7 Hectares of Pinot Noir; his superb Sancerre Rouge and Rosé wines represent 30 % of his production. Le Grand Chemarin is the best source of the outstanding red wine aged in small relatively new burgundian oak casks.
Marked by its charming hilltop village in the easternmost territory of the Loire, Sancerre is famous for its racy, vivacious, citrus-dominant Sauvignon blanc. Its enormous popularity in 1970s French bistros led to its success as the go-to restaurant white around the globe in the 1980s.
While the region claims a continental climate, noted for short, hot summers and long, cold winters, variations in topography—rolling hills and steep slopes from about 600 to 1,300 feet in elevation—with great soil variations, contribute the variations in character in Sancerre Sauvignon blancs.
In the western part of the appellation, clay and limestone soils with Kimmeridgean marne, especially in Chavignol, produce powerful wines. Moving closer to the actual town of Sancerre, soils are gravel and limestone, producing especially delicate wines. Flint (silex) soils close to the village produce particularly perfumed and age-worthy wines.
About ten percent of the wines claiming the Sancerre appellation name are fresh and light red wines made from Pinot noir and to a lesser extent, rosés. While not typically exported in large amounts, they are well-made and attract a loyal French following.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Villages or Cru level wines.