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Anthony & David Girard, Sancerre “Les Monts Damnés”Loire Valley, France 2018 (750mL)

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Anthony & David Girard, Sancerre “Les Monts Damnés” Loire Valley, France 2018 (750mL)

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Like most sommeliers I know, I keep my antenna tuned for certain annual wine releases. Some of them can get a little heated, like when the Cotat cousins of Sancerre, Pascal and François, release their respective bottlings from the “Les Monts Damnés” vineyard—it’s like throwing raw meat into a cage full of hungry lions. Lucky for us, the Cotats are not the only ones scaling the slopes of that “damned mountain”—brothers Anthony and David Girard farm some prized old vines on the site, and do the Cotats one better on the value front.


When you acknowledge Les Monts Damnés for what it is—a bona fide Grand Cru—the price tag for Girard’s version is even more glaring. The vineyard, of course, is the stuff of legend: a parcel so steep you need to be a skilled rock climber to scale it, or employ the use of treuils (winches) to transport grapes down the slope, as the Girards do. The soils are the same dense Kimmeridgian limestone found in Chablis, and the resulting wines are Sauvignon Blanc at its gem-cut best: wines structured for extended aging, with as much mineral intrigue and impact as any white Burgundy. “Under-valued” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Getting hands on some of this is something to celebrate!



In 2007, Anthony Girard took over a domaine first started by his great-grandfather, Serge, who was the original Girard to plant vines on Les Monts Damnés, in the hamlet of Chavignol. Its chalky Kimmeridgian limestone, the product of fossilized seashells from a Jurassic-era seabed, produces wines of exceptional focus and intensity, and just like the Grand Crus of Chablis or the Côte de Beaune in Burgundy, there are an assortment of owners laying claim to individual parcels within the vineyard. The Cotats are perhaps the most famous but there are quite a few other noteworthy names bottling wine from Monts Damnés, including not just the Girards but Didier Dagueneau and Gérard Boulay. The Girards own three hectares of vines on Monts Damnés, which are now 70 years old.


Of course, Sancerre doesn’t have ‘official’ rankings of its vineyards as in Burgundy, but at this point, no one’s going to argue if you refer to Les Monts Damnés as a Grand Cru. The bottled evidence is conclusive. And whether it’s via mechanical winch or a worker sliding down the hill with a cushion strapped to his/her rear end, harvest is a heroic endeavor each year for the Girards, who ferment their version using ambient yeasts only in stainless steel. It is aged in steel tank as well, creating a white of breathtaking purity and primal energy.


While it is plenty delicious now, and capable of remaining so over the course of many days open, today’s 2018 will also age well for a decade-plus. That’s a pretty great ROI for a $35 bottle of wine. In the glass, it displays a brilliant yellow core with neon green reflections leading out to a silvery rim. Perfumed aromas of yellow apple, lemon blossoms, candied citrus, peach pith, passionfruit, honeysuckle, white flowers, crushed chalk, wet stones, and oyster shells carry over to a laser-sharp, medium-bodied palate. If you’ve ever wondered what tasters mean when they talk about “minerality” in wine, this will settle the matter for you once and for all. If enjoying a bottle now, give it a splash-decant about 30 minutes before serving in all-purpose stems at 50 degrees. The level of aromatic complexity is already high but it will only get more intriguing over time, so try to “lose” a few bottles in your cellar if possible. This wine’s home village of Chavignol is famous for a goat’s milk cheese called Crottin, and while it feels custom-made for this wine, there are plenty of other pairing opportunities, whether it’s a first or a main course. Because we’re in the Winter citrus season, I can’t resist a salad preparation like the attached, which had me writing a shopping list before I even finished this offer. Don’t delay: This is going to be epic!




Anthony & David Girard, Sancerre “Les Monts Damnés” Loire Valley, France 2018 - SommSelect

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionLoire Valley
  • Sub-RegionSancerre
  • SoilKimmeridgian Limestone
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendSauvignon Blanc
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • OakNone

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionLoire Valley
  • Sub-RegionSancerre
  • SoilKimmeridgian Limestone
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendSauvignon Blanc
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • OakNone
  • Temp.Serve at 50° F
  • GlasswareAll-Purpose Whites
  • DrinkingNow-2030
  • Decanting30 Minutes
  • PairingFennel & Citrus Salad w/ Charred Squid