The white “grid wines” of the Certified Sommelier blind wine tasting exam include Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio and Viognier. So leading up to the exam I focused on these wines and repeatedly tasted representations of Sauvignon Blanc from classic regions such as California, Sancerre and New Zealand.
I have found the 2011 vintages of Sancerre to be fairly straightforward and very “getable” but 2012 was a warmer and riper vintage so the fruit is more forward and can, especially when sampled at colder temperatures, hide the more subtle mineral notes of the wine. Consequently, when I received one of these wines in class at ICC I learned to do a preliminary evaluation of the nose of the wine and then lean the glass over and hold the bowl in my left hand as I did the nose on the red wine in my right hand in the practice bind tests. Then after writing my notes of the nose of the red wine, the white wine will have warmed up and provided a more obvious and accurate representation of the wine. Fortunately I did not have to do this for the actual Certified exams as the wines had been poured long before we began the exam.
For one of the written assignments in the Intensive Sommelier Training at ICC we were required to create a wine list and we had a food and wine pairing assignment. For the “Practical” or “Service” portion of the Certified Sommelier exam we were asked food and wine pairing questions so I had a memorized wine list of about 30 wines of both old and new world representations. I had three Sauvignon Blancs on my list and one of them was the 2012 Franck Millet “Insolite” Sancerre which I actually suggested during the exam - along with an explanation as to why I thought it would pair well with the ordered menu item.
The producers of this wine are Franck and Betty Millet who own a growing 20-hectare domaine, situated in the village of Bué. The “Cuvée Insolite” is the Millet’s premium wine, made from fruit from the chalk soils within the domaine. The wine undergoes a long cold maceration to extract the maximum fruit intensity.
This is a clear white wine, lemon-yellow of moderate concentration and minimal rim variation and moderate viscosity with quickly forming but slow running tears. On the nose it is youthful with moderately intense aromas of lemon pith, lime, ripe white grapefruit, hints of apricot and nectarine, lemon blossoms, subtle grassy and herbal notes and chalky earth.
On the palate it is relatively soft when compared to other vintages and yet it remains refreshing with medium+ acidity. It has a well-defined full mouth feel as it is medium bodied with moderate alcohol. The nose is confirmed as it delivers ripe fruit with subtle underlying chalky notes and it has a prolonged citrus fruit and mineral driven finish. If it were not for the minerality of this wine, it could be mistaken as being from a warmer climate such as the northern California coast. I really enjoyed this wine and it would pair well with numerous seafood dishes as well as green salads. This wine sells for about $27 per bottle.