Sauvignon blanc’s greatest expression: CHAVIGNOL! The Sancerres of Gerard Boulay

Sauvignon blanc’s greatest expression: CHAVIGNOL! The Sancerres of Gerard Boulay

Down to Earth

The steeps of les Mont Damnes                                        Looking downhill at Chavignol

In the eastern reaches of the Loire valley lie the sleepy hamlets of Sancerre and Chavignol, widely regarded as the finest terroirs in the world for Sauvignon Blanc.  The relatively cool climate coupled with the steeply sloped argilo-calcaire ‘terres blanches’ soils of Chavignol render wines of unrivaled cut and palate staining minerality.   When paired with the celebrated goat cheeses of the region, you have a match made in heaven…..
Records dating as far back as 1380 reveal the presence of the Boulay family in Chavignol.  This long and proud lineage leads all the way to today, where Gerard and Lucie Boulay currently run this 9 hectare estate, 8 hectares of which lie on these steep, stony slopes of Chavignol.  The youngest vines of the estate were planted in 1972 by Gerard and family, with a current average age of 45 years.  Their holdings feature the most celebrated ‘crus’ of the village: the Clos de Beaujeu, Mont Damnes, and la Cote.  They also bottle a separate micro cuvee from the steepest and oldest vine section of les Monts Damnes that they call ‘la Comtesse’.  It is in these cuvees that we find some of the greastest soil inflected Sauvignon Blancs in the world, profound in their dimension and complexity.
For many years, Gerard has honed his style, seeking an ever purer expression of Chavignol terroir.  He takes a non-interventionist approach, favoring native yeasts, no filtration, minimal sulfur use, and organic farming practices.  “C’est la Nature qui fait le vin,” he says.  (It is Nature that makes the wine…)  For many years, these wines have flown ‘under the radar’, as the majority of the global press focused on the wines of the Cotat brothers and Edmond Vatan.  However, it seems that the world is taking fuller notice of the exceptional quality that is emerging from their cellar…..Here is a quote from John Gilman’s View from the Cellar:

“With wines like these 2010s, I have a hard time understanding why Domaine Gérard Boulay is not spoken of in the same reverential tones reserved for the Cotat cousins, Domaine Vatan and Domaine Didier Dagueneau- these wines are that good!”

On to the wines:
2011 Sancerre rose $20 : The Boulay’s rose of Pinot Noir has gorgeous pale red fruits and mouth watering mineral length….they age quite well too.  I love this stuff……the arrival of fresh rose means the arrival of spring to me…..

2010 Sancerre Chavignol $23 : Here is the Gilman review:
“The 2010 regular bottling from Gérard Boulay is a lovely example of the vintage, and as is often true to this cuvée, it is tightly wound and will repay a bit of cellaring. The deep, complex and extremely mineral nose offers up scents of lemon, grapefruit, a touch of smokiness, gentle grassy tones and kaleidoscopic minerality. On the palate the wine is medium-full, tight and very long, with an excellent core of fruit bound up behind the girdle of acidity, excellent focus and superb length and mineral drive on the backend. While certainly approachable now, the 2010 Sancerre from Gérard Boulay will be even better with a year or two of bottle age. High class Chavignol! 2012-2020. 90+ points.”

2010 Sancerre Mont Damnes $35 : Here is the Gilman review:
“The 2010 Monts Damnés from Gérard Boulay is simply stunning on both the nose and palate and is one of the reference point wines of the vintage. This bottling is made from forty- five year-old vines in one of the steepest sections of the Monts Damnés and then fermented in large old oak casks. The wine offers up a superb bouquet of green apple, lemon, very complex, chalky minerality, a touch of orange peel, petrol and cut grass. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and tight, with a rock solid core of fruit, crystalline minerality, superb cut and focus and a very, very long, tightly-knit finish. Like the wines from Domaines Cotat and Vatan, this beauty is bottled unfiltered and built for the cellar. 2014-2035+. 93 points.”

2010 Sancerre Clos de Beaujeu $35: Here is the Gilman review:
“The 2010 Clos de Beaujeu from Domaine Gérard Boulay is another absolutely reference point 2010 Sancerre, soaring from the glass in a blaze of tart orange, lemon, beautifully complex minerality, a touch of chalky overtones, citrus peel and a nice topnote of beeswax. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and laser-like in its focus, with nascent complexity, stunning depth at the core, bright acids and simply superb length and grip on the very racy and minerally finish. The Clos de Beaujeu from Gérard Boulay is also raised in old, 350 liter barrels and bottled unfiltered. A great wine. 2014-2035+. 94 points.”

2010 Sancerre La Cote $39 : Here is the Gilman review:
“This is the first vintage where the La Côte is being bottled by the domaine, which hails from a subsection of the Clos de Beaujeu in the Grande Côte vineyard in the neighboring village of Amigny. This is a stellar new addition to the lineup at the domaine and they could not have picked a more classic great vintage with which to begin! The nose on the 2010 La Côte offers up a brilliant nose of tart orange, pink grapefruit, a touch of cut grass, lovely, very complex minerality, smoke, orange peel and spring flowers. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and extremely long, with a rock solid core, snappy, ripe acids and stunning length and grip on the laser-like finish. A brilliant bottle of Sancerre that will be extremely long-lived. 2015- 2035+. 94+ points.”

2010 Sancerre la Comtesse $46 : Here is the Gilman review:
“The La Comtesse bottling from Domaine Gérard Boulay comes from his oldest vines in his section of the Monts Damnés (fifty to seventy five years of age) and is barrel-fermented in old wood and also bottled unfiltered. The 2010 La Comtesse is brilliant, soaring from the glass in a very refined mélange of lemon, lime, chalky minerality, orange peel, glorious herb tones, petrol, lime blossoms and a gently smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and racy, with stunning refinement, superb mid-palate depth and a very long, complex and zesty finish. 94+ points.”

These 2010s are reference standard Sancerres, ‘classical’ in the their cut and minerality.  The wines age far better than most people have patience for….older bottles can be mesmerizing.  Whether you’re an aficionado or curious to learn, these wines simply deliver….
Every price here is the best nationally, period.
If you have any questions, or would like to check some of these out, contact me at
Cheers to the arrival of spring, and the stunning beauty of Boulay’s labor of love!


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