Roger Neveu & Fils Sancerre Cuvee Pierre Francois Xavier 2017
Assembled in great years from the Neveu family’s best parcels around Verdigny, Chavignol, and Sancerrre, “PFX”—as it is affectionately known by the family—is raised in oak rather than stainless steel (the former being the historical norm in Sancerre). The oak adds a grain and level of class and backbone that raises this cuvée a step above the domaine’s classic Sancerre bottling. PFX ages more slowly and gracefully than most Sancerres, and it makes a great cellar diversification play.
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The Neveu family’s roots in the Loire Valley are nothing short of impressive, even for European standards. The local archives show that a Jean Neveu lived in the village of Verdigny (where the family still resides) as early as the 12th century, and family documents prove that they already owned and ran an agricultural estate in 1641. It is known that grapevines made up part of the property in the 19th century, but they were sadly destroyed in the phylloxera epidemic so it wasn’t until the after World War II that winegrowing regained an important place at the domaine, with nearly all of their wine sold in bulk through the 1960s. It was Roger Neveu, father to current owners Éric and Jean-Philippe, who during the 1970s brought the domaine into its contemporary incarnation by making and bottling his own wine, and selling it directly to customers, friends, restaurants, and importers. Éric officially joined the family métier in 1977 after studying winemaking in Beaune, and Jean-Philippe followed suit ten years later after getting his degree in accounting.
The love of a job well done is the goal and guiding principle of the brothers. The quality of the wine is the top priority, and giving complete satisfaction to their customers and friends is a close second. The family tradition in wine has already added another generation as both Éric and Jean-Philippe’s sons have started helping out in the vineyards and cellar.
The Clos des Bouffants, the primary Neveu family Sancerre holding, is a steep, due-south exposed, limestone vineyard located less than a half mile from the Neveu cellar. This storied vineyard was cited in the 1777 history of Sancerre, where the Abbott Poupart, priest of Sancerre, wrote, “the Bouffants hillside is one of the best I know in the Sancerre area
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.
Capable of a vast array of styles, Sauvignon Blanc is a crisp, refreshing variety that equally reflects both terroir and varietal character. Though it can vary depending on where it is grown, a couple of commonalities always exist—namely, zesty acidity and intense aromatics. This variety is of French provenance. Somm Secret—Along with Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc is a proud parent of Cabernet Sauvignon. That green bell pepper aroma that all three varieties share is no coincidence—it comes from a high concentration of pyrazines (herbaceous aromatic compounds) inherent to each member of the family.