If I had to choose a desert island white--a wine to take with me were I stranded away from my cellar and away from wine shops for an extended period--this would probably be it. Domaine Daulny's regular Sancerre is always very good (and reasonably priced) but the Clos de Chaudenay has a special quality.
Etienne Daulny owns 37 acres of vineyards in Sancerre, arguably the best area in the world for producing Sauvignon Blanc wines. (No, I don't think New Zealand comes even close!) Clos Chaudenay comes from a single vineyard on a slope just above Verdigny. The name defines it as a "hot spot" but in the Loire Valley that means a little less cool. Vines averaging 40 years of age face southwest so they get the morning sun, and the grapes are harvested by hand by Etienne and his daughter. Etienne's brother makes the wine, aging it in mainly in stainless steel but with a small lot kept in well seasoned large oak barrels before being blended in to the finished product. The bright, vibrant Sauvignon fruit is still dominant, but the seasoned oak adds complexity and body--the qualities that make it a special wine for me.
The color of the 2004 has deepened into a full gold, reminding me that I should drink up the remaining bottles of this vintage. Sauvignon Blanc wines are best when they are young, but the smells and flavors of this bottle are not at all diminished by age. White peaches, grapefruit, green apples and just the right touch of minerality, faintly reminiscent of freshly ground coffee beans. The finish is incredible; this wine refuses to let you forget it. Actually, it's two days later when I'm writing this note, and I'm still remembering the flavors of Clos de Chaudenay.