A Visit to Domaine Vacheron, 2017

The bottling line was going at full speed when I arrived at Domaine Vacheron to meet Jean-Laurent. The noise, a combination of machinery rattle and the clinking of a thousand jostling bottles, was nothing short of deafening. Even though they were shouting at full volume it was close to impossible to make out what Jean-Laurent Vacheron or any of his team were saying. Through the magic of lip-reading in French (more difficult than it sounds) and international sign language Jean-Laurent explained that he had to finish bottling before we could taste, and as I was a few minutes early I was happy to kick back and watch him and his team at work. Piloting his forklift truck at some speed, he scooted back and forth in and out of the cellars, delivering palette after palette of brand new clean-skin bottles, his team using each newly-arrived load to feed the hungry machine.

With the job eventually done, Jean-Laurent and I headed down into the warren of cellars the Vacheron family maintain beneath the streets of Sancerre. Eventually, having weaved our way past a myriad barrels and wooden cuves, we came to a small cellar equipped with a tasting table, the walls lined from floor to ceiling with bottles, thick with dust and cobwebs. We pulled back a few chairs, and then began to pull a few corks.

Domaine Vacheron

The Wines

The notes presented below are an amalgamation of two tastings with the Vacheron family, the first with Jean-Dominique Vacheron in February 2017, the second with Jean-Laurent Vacheron when I called in on the domaine in July 2017. The tasting with Jean-Dominique focused purely on younger vintages, and with Jean-Laurent it was a mix of younger and older vintages, including a couple of real curiosities. I have ordered my notes below by vintage, rather than when or where I tasted the wines.

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