Domaine Vacheron, 2019 Update

The 2016 vintages and 2017 vintages in the Loire Valley were blighted by frost. In both cases the vignerons of Sancerre escaped almost untouched by this increasingly frequent affliction, while some in Pouilly-Fumé and Menetou-Salon suffered catastrophic damage. I have already alluded to this in 2016 in my recent report on eleven wines from Alphonse Mellot, which focused exclusively on this vintage. In 2017, though, the story was much the same; Sancerre got away with it.

Indeed, spring frosts remain relatively rare in Sancerre compared to the other Central Vineyard appellations, I suspect partly because the Sancerre vineyards enjoy a little more elevation, with most vineyards between 200 metres and 400 metres above sea level. It also has a topographical profile of hills, slopes and valleys, including the valley of the Loire itself, which allows cold air to run down away from the vines. By comparison, some other nearby appellations have a very flat, open, plateau-like feel to them, and are regularly battling frost. The last frost of any significance in Sancerre, by the way, was 1991.

Domaine Vacheron

So, having escaped any significant frost damage in 2016 and 2017 the Vacheron family were free to take advantage of what turned out to be two warm and benevolent vintages. The vines continued in their biodynamic culture, this being one of several domaines in Sancerre which have been wholly committed to biodynamics for a long time. Both growing seasons ended with relatively good conditions, when the concern was more about retaining the acidity and freshness in the fruit in the face of rapidly rising sugar levels rather than any concern about yields or lack of ripeness.

For this report I tasted a selection of white and red wines from these two vintages with Jean-Dominique Vacheron (pictured above), as well as looking back to 2015 for the final red wine.

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