France // The Loire //

The vineyards of Sancerre

If you’re going to be staying in Sancerre, your first priority is probably going to be the wine, and so it makes sense during your visit to have an idea of which are the best vineyards in the area. There are numerous quirks of wine production here; for instance, wines aren’t allowed to carry an individual vineyard’s name, instead being sold under the name of the producer or, very occasionally, the cuvée.

First port of call for wine enthusiasts should be the Maison des Sancerre on 3 rue du Méridien (April, May, Oct & Nov 10am–6pm; June–Sept 10am–7pm; €7; t 02 48 54 11 35, w a fourteenth-century townhouse with a great view over the vine-clad hills around. With its entertaining film shows and interactive exhibits, you’ll get a comprehensive picture of winemaking in Sancerre and a tasting is included. The Maison also organizes bespoke tours of wine- and cheese-makers in the region combined with cycling or canoeing activities.

To accompany your wines, try the local crottin de Chavignol, a goat’s cheese named after the neighbouring village just 4km away in which it’s made; Dubois-Boulay (t 02 48 54 15 69, w offers the best selection. Henri Bourgeois (t 02 48 78 53 20, w, up the hill, have been making wine for 10 generations. Call ahead to book a 2-hour tour with a dégustation (€10) or stop by for a free tasting.

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