Secrets of the Sancerre Cults - Vintage Berkeley

Secrets of the
Sancerre Cults.

The rare Boulay-Summoning Ritual, captured here at risk of death

The Exalted 'Cru' Sancerres
of Gérard Boulay:

'Les Monts Damnés': $60. Buy here!
'Clos de Beaujeu': $60. 
Buy here!

TL; DR: Gérard Boulay: one of the most sought-after producers in one of France's most exclusive vinous zip codes: Sancerre. Though his entry-level Sancerre is exquisite, it's his work within the famed "crus" of Les Monts Damnés and Clos de Beaujeu that set the Sancerre-hounds slavering! These are hard-to-get cult objects, and we got mere micro-amounts! So whether you have a special gift recipient on your list this year, or just want something delicious on your T-Day table: Ready, set, cult!

There have been rumors.

Are the reports — loincloth-clad, torch-bearing Sauv Blanc-seeking neo-Druids meeting beneath a harvest moon at the center of a trilith circle located within a dimly illumined copse in El Cerrito — all true? More importantly: does it work?

What's that? You're saying "cult Sancerre" doesn't necessarily entail the existence of Sancerre cults? Are you sure? Because when it comes to legendary Sancerre producer Gérard Boulay, we're prepared to believe all manner of things. Last year we didn't get a measly bottle of any of his special 'cru' Sancerres; this year, though — whether through unseemly begging or through those pagan sacrifices we did at the summer solstice, we can't be sure — we got 
(just) enough to share!  

Gérard Boulay: he wears his loincloth underneath

1) Let's back up: What's Sancerre? It's arguably the spiritual homeland of Sauvignon Blanc: the region's special chalk-laden, 150-million-year-old, Kimmeridgian soils (the same that drive Chablis and parts of Champagne) mean that the grape here reaches flinty, mineral, mind-dilating heights that it doesn't often achieve anywhere else. 

2) Cult producer: furreals? There exists a small handful of winemakers here who people do Druid dances for, the inarguable superstars of the Loire: names like Cotat, Vatan, Vacheron and yes: Gérard Boulay. One famous wine wag, Chris Kisssack, wrote:

Gérard Boulay is undoubtedly in the top tier of producers in Sancerre's Chavignol. His wines have a vibrant purity, evident ripeness, are devoid of raw varietal character and reflect the soils from which they emerge. In terms of purity and raciness, I wonder whether he shouldn't be placed at the very top of the tier. His wines are sufficiently exciting, so breathtaking in their assured poise, to suggest this might be the case."

Boulay's family has been making wine here since the 1300's... and yet — never one to rest on his family's septuacentennial laurels — Gérard was also among the very first producers to convert to organic farming (in a region not at all known for it), which he's been doing for going on 3 decades! He works naturally and interferes as little as possible, seeking to, as he puts it, "let the wine live." (Again, by some of Sancerre's industrial production standards? The man might as well have two heads!)

"Just" Kimmeridgian limestone? Or Sancerre-henge?

3) Hey, Cru you! (Er, sorry; what's a 'Cru'?) Unlike Burgundy, Sancerre's vineyards aren't classified into quality-denoting categories; i.e.,there are no "grand cru" or "premier cru" wines here. But there is consensus on the greatest sub-region of Sancerre, and it's the tiny hamlet of Chavignol. What's more? This special mini-zone is home to the most prized vineyards in the region, that sometimes get called the "crus" of Sancerre: Monts Damnés and Cul de Beaujeu, both sites whose highest expressions are often achieved in Boulay's hands.

The Monts Damnés (the "Damned Mountains," so called by lazy-ass medieval monks who hated working its slopes) is perhaps the most famous of all spots in Sancerre. Known for its intense and coiled minerality, a quality that emerges from old vines (avg. 50 yrs) on one of Chavignol's steepest slopes.

Cul de Beaujeu

The Cul de Beaujeu is often considered Sancerre’s most beautiful spot. Another insanely steep, monk-cleared, postage stamp of a plot, these were for centuries the only Sancerre vines used to produce white wine! (A fact that only changed due to the phylloxera outbreak in the 19th century.) Boulay's parcel is the crème de la crème de la crème de la crème, sitting as it does within the monks' original walled parcel (aka "clos")! 

These are exquisite, world-beating white wines, sapid, snappy, and alive
— and they're precisely as delightful to drink as they are hard to get! (And though few of you will wait? These are also legendarily age-worthy wines, for those of you who cellar your magic!) 

How to choose? Don't! Buy both, while we (momentarily) have them! because short of doing the awkward Druid dance, and/or having a couple spare virgins on hand for sacrifice? This may be your only chance!

The Exalted 'Cru' Sancerres
of Gérard Boulay.

2019 'Les Monts Damnés': $60. Buy here!
2019 'Clos de Beaujeu': $60. Buy here!