Julia Child declared sole meuniere the dish that made her fall in love with French food. Did she pair it with a glass of Sancerre?
According to the French wino (wine distributor), you don't ask for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, you ask for a glass of Sancerre.
That is, if you knew that you wanted a Sancerre, you wouldn't call it Sauvignon Blanc, you would say Sancerre.
Sauvignon Blanc is nearly ubiquitous, seemingly grown in every wine region around the world, but it's actually an indigenous grape to France.
The most famous single varietal Sauvignon Blancs in France come from the Loire Valley. And within the Loire Valley, the most famous one is from the town of Sancerre.
It's hilly. It's small. That's why it's so expensive is essentially what the French wino said.
Specifically the wine appellation sits on a bedrock of limestone, chalk, marl, gravel, leading to well balanced wine with both fruit and minerality.
Sadly, I had never tasted one before.
I cut my teeth on New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc when I lived there and drank wine pretty much every single day. To me, a Sauv Blanc is that strong gooseberry, grassy, very tropical fruited one fermented in stainless steel.
But before New Zealand started growing Sauv Blanc, the French replanted the region of Sancerre with the grape after phylloxera wiped out the existing Pinot Noir and Gamay, other cool climate grapes.
Sauv Blanc took well to grafting on American rootstocks, and the wine soon became popular as a food friendly wine in Parisian bistros.
The 2019 Gitton Sauvignon Blanc I tried for $28 was almost double the price of a Sauvignon Blanc I would normally pay for from another country.
It also tasted like no other Sauv Blanc I had ever had before.
For one, it had a dose of unexpected minerality, and instead of being so fruit forward, it that balanced, understated vibe. I thought if I paired it with food, it might get smothered, since it seemed so delicate.
In addition, it had a very unusual sulfur, cooked cabbage scent along with the gooseberry and some tropical notes. Kind of like a Pinot Noir earthiness.
As for food pairing, I thought it would go very well with a lightly poached protein, ginger, and lemongrass.
But it's just been so hot this summer that I just couldn't get myself to cook anything that took for more than 5 minutes.
Hence, the classic French bistro dish of sole meuniere miraculously emerged from my kitchen in 10 minutes. Dusted with a thin coating of flour, pan fried, and finished with a browned butter sauce, lemon, and parsley, it's a dish that begs for wine. The flavors are just very simple, and wine makes them much more interesting.
And Julia Child had it with wine too, when she had it at Restaurant La Couronne in Rouen. In fact, she declared the dish "a morsel of perfection."
I like to think though that wine had a lot to do with that meal being so memorable.
It wasn't a Sancerre but a Pouilly-Fume, another wine from the Loire Valley, and of coarse also a Sauvignon Blanc.
Learn more about the Sauvignon Blancs of France from the French Winophiles:
- Camilla is making Vietnamese Summer Rolls with a Sauvignon Blanc from the Pays de la Loire at Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Wendy is whipping up a Shrimp Bisque and a Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux at A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Robin is pouring a Sauvignon Blanc from the small hamlet of Chavignol in Sancerre at Crushed Grape Chronicles
- Jane is Tasting Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc Paired with Smoked Salmon Crostini at Always Ravenous
- Jeff is preparing a Surprise! Sauvignon Blanc from Bourgogne at Food Wine Click!
- Gwendolyn is Comparing 2 French Sauvignon Blanc: Loire vs Bordeaux with Grilled Pesto Stuffed Chicken at Wine Predator
- Katrina is toasting to Let’s Give Some Love to French Sauvignon Blanc… From Bordeaux at Corkscrew Concierge
- Linda is writing about Holy Snails! A Summer Sauv Blanc worth sipping slowly at My Full Wine Glass
- Deanna is frying Sole Meuniere Paired with Sancerre at Wineivore
Wendy Klik says
I will have to splurge on myself and try the Sancerre. Thanks Deanna, for the tips and for hosting.
Sole Meuniere paired with Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé is truly perfection no matter the season!
Linda Whipple says
I think of Julia Child as being complicated, but no! This sole meuniere looks like something even I could cook - and will! I'll spring for a Sancerre when I do and let you know how it goes...
That sole with a squirt of lemon looks perfect for your Sancerre. Yum!
I certainly understand wanting something quick during the heat of the summer. You've inspired this week's menu at our house. Even my kids can't balk at a easy fish such as this.
Such a simple dish! That could become a summertime staple for me. Perhaps when I pick up that Pouilly-Fume!