Domaine Vacheron is one of Sancerre’s elite properties, producing both white and red Sancerre wines of amazing purity and definition. The domaine has been completely transformed over to biodynamic farming with two young cousins, Jean-Laurent and Jean-Dominique Vacheron, at the helm. No synthetic material is used in the vineyard, harvests are carried out exclusively by hand, and the only fertilizer used is produced from the compost pile. Yields are kept extremely low. Having inherited some of the most coveted parcels in the appellation, the cousins are trying a Burgundian approach to Sancerre winemaking, with parcels being vinified separately and blends varying from year to year. At the domaine, Pinot Noir is not an afterthought, but a focus, and on soils just a couple of hours west of Burgundy, they are making grand, expressive bottlings from the varietal.
While the attention to detail, the natural farming and focused winemaking are important, it is the soil structure that really shines through in these wines. While much of Sancerre lies on chalk soils, much of the Vacheron estate is planted on silex, which is flint over a clay and limestone base. This silex soil contains millions of tiny oceanic fossils, giving evidence that the entire region was once covered by the ocean. It produces wines of amazing minerality and acidity, with trademark smoky aromas. The famed “Les Romains” and “Belle Dame” vineyards in Sancerre are made up exclusively of this soil type and the Vacheron family owns some of the more important holdings in these parcels.
As Jean-Dominique was recently quoted in the Revue de Vin de France, “We have not yet seen the sum of what one can do with Sauvignon in Sancerre.” We can’t wait to see what’s coming next.
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