Four years ago, we drank this wine during an unforgettable dinner at L’Espalier in Boston. I remember the impeccable service, the rarefied, exquisite food, the female sommelier, and the long finish of this extraordinary sauvignon blanc. After we got home, I ordered a bottle to keep for a special occasion. It must have cost $30 or $40 at the time. Now it seems that this wine is not to be found. Lately we have been turning over the stock in the cave du vin and trying to drink up everything that might be going over the hill. According to the label, we were several years too late on this one.
Not to worry. Opening it, I noticed a good bouquet of mango, pear and lemon. Yet the real test is in the mouth, since older wines will sometimes retain a great scent but lose their backbone. This one still possessed plenty of acid, mellowed a bit with pleasing notes of vanilla and, unusually for a sauvignon blanc, lots of tasty oak. The flavor brought back memories of the vegetable degustation at l’Espalier, and the finish was gratifyingly long. Coincidentally, we returned to L’Espalier in mid-August, though we chose the wine pairings instead of ordering a bottle. They no longer had Connétable in the cellar.
At home, we drank our Chateau Sancerre with a much humbler repast. I sautéed some rapini with kalamata olives, and served it with a baked potato enrobed in a sauce of Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard and white vermouth. Throughout the meal, we kept exclaiming at how good the wine was. It was that kind of bottle.
Chateau Sancerre has a long, illustrious history. From the medieval structure, the fourteenth-century donjon is preserved, though the current chateau dates to the nineteenth century. It is now owned by Marnier-Lapostolle, the company who produce Grand Marnier. The “Cuvée de Connétable” is named for Louis de Sancerre, who was named Connétable (“Constable” or First Officer of the Crown) to Charles V in 1397.