The major white grape of the central Loire can be one-dimensional and difficult to match with food. Yet because the restraint, finesse, balance and flinty dryness of the better examples are generally not as in-your-face as their Kiwi counterparts, they can often work satisfyingly not just on their own but with salads, goat's cheese and white fish.
Not a million miles from sancerre, Domaine Jacky Marteau's 2014 Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, £9, Marks & Spencer, is an example of the distinctive, fresh, fragrant style, in which herb and nettle characters etch the gooseberry flavours of this zingy dry white with juicily tongue-tingling herbaceous borders.
The 2014 Le Grand Ballon Sauvignon Blanc, Val de Loire, £8.49, Waitrose, shows also that energising sancerre-like gooseberry weight and citrusy crispness. Down the road, Cheverny is an appellation which, unusually, allows the interloper chardonnay, mingling – in the 2013 Cheverny, Emmanuel Delaille, Loire Valley, £9.49, Bargain Booze, Wine Rack – herb aromatics with the fuller-bodied ripeness of the chardonnay.
The Loire Valley's twin sauvignon peaks are sancerre and pouilly-fumé. Sainsbury's 2014 Taste the Difference Sancerre, £13, is a quality example of the appellation from the excellent producer Florian Mollet, an elegant dry white with smoky aromatics and a fine tension between sweet fruit and pithy grapefruit freshness. Thierry Merlin-Cherrier's 2014 Sancerre, £16, Morrisons, is another fine blend of elderflower and herb with juicy gooseberry fruit etched with the zingy acidity of the new vintage.
The minerally aspects of the variety are exploited by Domaine Hubert Brochard whose 2013 Sancerre Silex , £16, Marks & Spencer, shows not just elderflower and basil, but a salty dryness that has you licking your lips before, during and after. For the ultimate in serious Sancerre, Alphonse Mellot's 2013 Le Manoir, £21.99, Waitrose, with herbal intensity and spicy oak, chimes nicely with grilled cod.
Returning to the freshness of the 2014 vintage, the 2014 Fontenille Pouilly Fumé, £10.99, Wine Rack, is benchmark stuff in which the purity of the sauvignon blanc grape is transmitted through nettle aromas, a crisp prickle and plenty of elderflower juiciness. Jonathan Pabiot's 2014 Pouilly Fumé, £19.99, buy two = £13.32, Majestic, displays the classic aromatic zing of the best pouilly-fumé, with tart grapefruit crispness. Equally, Florian Mollet's 2014 Pouilly Fumé Antique, £17, Sainsbury's, is a super-elegant style, all nettle and herb, gooseberry notes, and zesty, mineral intensity.
Something for the weekend
Hilltop Cserszegi Fuszeres Premium
A tongue-twisting Hungarian grape variety imbues this non-vintage white (we presume it's from 2014) with a ginger-spicy snap and a refreshing, balanced and dry finish. £7, Asda
2012 Vacqueyras, Seigneur de Fontimple, Rhône
This aromatically pepper-spicy southern Rhône blend is based on grenache and is moreish in raspberry jam and loganberry fruit, while a spine of acidity adds verve. £13.99, Wine Rack
2013 Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Pinot Noir
This polished pinot noir from the North Island's "little Burgundy" displays aromatic berries pepped up with oak, and a long and juicy finish. £19.99, buy 2 = £14.99, MajesticReuse content