2010 Chateau La Rabotine Sancerre Rouge

Hello friends. I tasted a stunning Pinot Noir recently. And it wasn’t from Burgundy, nor from Oregon:

Sancerre Rouge has long been the domain of the far end of the wine geek spectrum. Most of the versions I’ve tasted have been lean, mean, and green. So it was with surprise and delight that I tasted this version from Alban Roblin of Chateau Rabotine.

The Roblin family is into its sixth generation of winemaking, mostly focused on the small village of Sury-en-Vaux. This area, just north of Sancerre proper (see location here), contains some of the most prized soil in Sancerre: the terres blanches (white earth). This is Kimmeridgian marl; the same combination of clay, limestone, and marine fossil that is found in Chablis (here’s a picture from one of Roblin’s vineyards in the area). It makes beautiful, mineral Sauvignon Blanc, and if this bottle is any indication, thrilling Pinot Noir as well.

This is one of those bottles where I loved it before I understood it, but now that I’ve had a chance to do some research, it begins to make more sense. First of all, this is a single-vineyard Pinot, from a Roblin monopole called L’Erable, with all vines older than 30 years. Next, it is fermented using only native yeasts, and entirely with whole-clusters.

This is about as close as we can get to tasting a specific piece of land through the prism of Pinot Noir, a grape notorious for its ability to transmit terroir. Here that terroir begins with beautiful, summery red fruit – strawberries and raspberries – thrilling for its purity, clarity, and freshness. Then you begin to notice the complexities: funky, mushroomy earth notes; cherry blossom floral lift; and an undeniable marine element, something savory and seaweedy. This is a transparent expression of one very specific piece of land, that rare bottle that delights the intellect and the senses in equal measure.

I contend that if you slapped a Pommard label on this, it would command a substantially higher tariff. Lucky for us, it hails proudly from Sancerre. First come first served up to 6 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

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