Gerard Millet Sancerre Rouge 2022

 If you love Burgundy but not the rising price tags, you need to be looking to Loire Valley Pinot Noir. In the July Dirt Club, we have two outstanding examples—one with almost a decade of age on it— from one of our favorite Loire Valley estates.

Gérard Millet is one of the most sought-after small producers in the Loire Valley, but they’re mostly known for their crisp, aromatic Sauvignon Blanc. Their Sancerre rouge, however, is not to be missed. This fresh, light, Pinot Noir is a home run for Burgundy lovers and reminder of the days when Sancerre was red wine country, rather than white. Comparable to earthy Burgs from lesser-known villages like Irancy, it’s full of berries, forest floor, and spice. It’s a cool bottle to pull out for a crowd—especially for folks who have never had the pleasure of drinking a red Sancerre before.

Producer: Gérard Millet

Country: France

Region: Loire Valley

Grape: Pinot Noir

Tart cherry, wild strawberry, cranberry, pepper, smoke

Then you should try: other cool climate Pinots. You’ll find them masquerading under the name Spätburgunder in Germany and Pinot Nero in Italy. We’ve had some delicious examples from Friuli and the Veneto as well as more experimental winemakers in Pfalz.

- The quality of red Sancerre has improved exponentially over the last 10 years—in no small part due to climate change.
- Due to the rising costs of Burgundy—even entry level wines—some of the nerdier and more open-minded wine folks have begun turning to Loire Valley Pinot Noir to slake their weeknight thirst.
- Great at cellar temp, or with a light chill to bring out the juicy berry flavors.


Pair With: Smash Burgers

Recipe adapted from NYT Cooking


½ teaspoon neutral oil, like canola, or a pat of unsalted butter
2 pounds ground chuck, at least 20 percent fat
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
8 slices cheese (optional)
8 soft hamburger buns, lightly toasted
Lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes and condiments, as desired

Step 1
Add oil or butter to a large cast-iron or stainless-steel skillet and place over medium heat. Gently divide ground beef into 8 small piles of around 4 ounces each, and even more gently gather them together into orbs that are about 2 inches in height. Do not form patties.

Step 2
Increase heat under skillet to high. Put half the orbs into the skillet with plenty of distance between them and, using a stiff metal spatula, press down on each one to form a burger that is around 4 inches in diameter and about ½ inch thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 3
Cook without moving until patties have achieved a deep, burnished crust, a little less than 2 minutes. Use the spatula to scrape free and carefully turn burgers over. If using cheese, lay slices on meat.

Step 4
Continue to cook until meat is cooked through, approximately a minute or so longer. Remove burgers from skillet, place on buns and top as desired. Repeat process with remaining burgers. Serving two hamburgers on a single bun is not an outrageous option.