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Domaine Vacheron Sancerre 2012

This weekend I decided to look back twenty years, which was when I first visited the town of Sancerre, and first tasted its wines in situ (I had been buying and drinking them in the UK for some before that). One of the domaines I visited on that trip was Domaine Vacheron, and I was sensible enough to carry a few bottles home with me, so I spent much of the following year drinking Vacheron. The domaine was a formative part of my Loire Valley wine education.

Why look back now, in 2013? Some sort of maudlin, wish-I-was-younger twenty-year anniversary? Not likely. Domaine Vacheron is forward-looking, its domaine cuvée, featured here, now accompanied by a raft of single vineyard bottlings, any one of which should be enough to excite the socks off any fan of Sancerre. And, perhaps following this lead, I am looking forward too. Looking forward to returning to Sancerre, that is. In six days time I'm off to take a look at how the 2013 harvest is progressing, and although I won't be able to visit every region and appellation with just one week of touring, both Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are in my sights. This means next week I won't be making my regular updates to the website, but will be posting on the blog side some reports from the harvest, free for all to read. My full 2013 Loire report, which will be posted next year after my tastings in January and February, together with my notes, will of course be for subscribers only.

Domaine Vacheron Sancerre 2012

For the moment then, back to Domaine Vacheron. Rather like Alphonse Mellot, Domaine Vacheron is a long-standing stalwart of the Sancerre appellation. Neither, however, have been left behind by the rapidly changing world of wine. Not only have the Vacheron family recently created a fascinating range of lieu-dit cuvées, as noted above, the domaine - which amounts to more than 40 hectares - was converted to biodynamics, certified by BIODYVIN, in 2005. This domaine may be a stalwart, but it is also something of a trailblazer. And, as that is never enough, I should point out that today the wines have interest, precision and quality on their side.

The domaine cuvée is usually a blend of wines from flint and limestone terroirs, Vacheron owning quite a swathe of vineyards on flint, the least common of the three major terroirs in the appellation. The 2012 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre has a pale, pale golden hue. There are some fairly classic aromatic elements here, the nose fresh, quite pungent, certainly still grassy as per my last tasting with Denis Vacheron in February, but also showing a little more smoke and flint now, the weedy-green-fruit elements now superseded by these more interesting components. In the mouth it feels full, quite broad, very grassy and pungent just as the nose suggested, but also deep and minerally, a wine with plenty of character. It remains sappy and fresh through to the finish, and it shows some appropriate length too. This is a classic and good quality example of the appellation. 17/20 (30/9/13)

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