From €10.50, $16.99, £14.95
Despite being the first French white wine to be given AOC status, Quincy has persistently been overshadowed (and dwarfed) by Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre, where the combined area under vine is over 15 times greater than Quincy's.
The Oxford Companion to Wine describes Quincy Sauvignons as 'a little more rustic, less delicate' than Sancerre, and one could possibly point to the sand and gravel soils – as opposed to the limestone, clay and silex (flint) upon which Sancerre Sauvignons grow. The warmer soils mean that Quincy grapes have tended to ripen a little earlier, with a little more alcohol and a little less acidity. Or perhaps it was simply that as Sancerre grew in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, so did investment in vineyards and winemaking prowess, leaving Quincy to plod on behind.
But times are changing. Quincy vineyard area is growing (now 290 ha/716 acres), and the quality of the wines is rising. Riper, rounder, with more obvious fruit, they also appeal to drinkers now used to the boldly ripe and accessible New Zealand and New World style of Sauvignon Blanc. Earlier picking and canopy management is bringing freshness and finesse.
Yves Lestourgie is a cereal farmer-turned-vigneron who in 1994, together with his brother Antoine, planted 1.5 ha of Sauvignon Blanc and established Domaine de Chevilly. Yves married an oenologue, Géraldine, and together they gradually grew the domaine to 11 ha (27 acres) of vineyard. The three of them are pictured above, Yves to the left and Antoine to the right, and Géraldine below.
About 10% of Quincy vineyards are planted to Sauvignon Gris, but the Lestourgie's 2017 Quincy is 100% Sauvignon Blanc picked from nine different parcels – some young vines, but with an average age of about 15 years. He does have a single-vineyard cuvée called Zoé, but the wine I came across at Vin Cognito was his traditional cuvée, which is made simply in stainless steel and left on fine lees for three months. It's a perfect example of just how good Quincy can be, with all the acidity and mouth-watering structure of a good Sancerre, yet with a mid-palate weight and fullness (with a not-insubstantial 13.5% alcohol) that almost takes you by surprise. I didn't look at the prices for the wines I was tasting until a couple of days after the tasting, and I was staggered by how reasonably priced this piercingly elegant wine was at £14.95. I had expected it to be much closer to £20.
My tasting note describes a wine smelling of gunflint and apples, and tasting it was a bit like the electric shock of diving into icy water with warm sun on your neck. It had beautifully ripe citrus fruit, sliced into ribbons by the glorious acidity. It's the kind of wine you want to drink on a hot day with equally crisp food (fresh tomato salads, goat's cheese, a bowl of rocket leaves dressed in punchy green olive oil, cold prawns dipped in aioli, chicken breast seared over coals and drizzled with tarragon mayonnaise…). It's wonderfully appetising and so vigorous that a glass of this would make me want to go for a run!
The 2017 is readily available in the UK, US and France, as is the 2016, which I haven't tasted but I can imagine would be equally delicious.