Monday, February 2, 2009

2007 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Blanc

I picked up some Humboldt Fog and asked myself, "What to drink?" The obvious answer, for me, is a slightly demi-sec Vouvray, which makes for a magical pairing. But this time I opted for others' obvious answer: Sancerre.

Over the years I've given little attention to Sancerre blanc given my lack of enthusiasm for sauvignon blanc in general. But as Jim Budd notes, "the Sancerres that are worth drinking completely transcend Sauvignon Blanc’s two-dimensional varietal character... [and] often have a thrilling minerality and precision of flavour."

Domaine Vacheron delivers exactly that. Now, you should read Jim's post on his September 2008 visit to Domaine Vacheron, but I'll summarize a few key points. The Vacherons implemented a biodynamics regime a decade ago and their vineyards' soils are composed equally of silex and limestone. In recent years they have backed off the extraction levels and also now use fewer small barrels in favor of 600 L vats, and have even changed the pruning system for new plantings, eschewing the Guyot system in favor of cordon so as to reduce yields. They don't stop experimenting, thinking things through, and above all doing everything they can to emphasize terroir.

Given the wine's ability to age, the very pale 2007 is obviously very young, and it was tightly wound, if deeply aromatic, when first opened. I got calcerous lemon, slightly bitter grapefruit pith, and energetic salty minerals. A strong and pure spine of acidity provides excellent structure, but again, you are at arm's length from the wine's core essence. But by night three the body becomes rounder, even creamy, without losing an iota of its weightlessness, acid precision, or salty drive, and the elegant, multilayered alfalfa and lemon cream notes really sing on the long finish, particularly at midpalate.

This is a delicate wine, and my spicy vegetable soup overwhelmed it, but once it had evolved it was indeed fantastic with the Humboldt Fog. It should also be great with steamed bivalves or light, grilled whitefish. Decant now or cellar for later — preferably both.


Jim's Loire said...

Mike. Thank you for the kind words. I agree Sauvignon Blanc is not my favourite variety, although in the hands the Vacherons and others it can be thrilling.

Brooklynguy said...

why do you vanish for weeks like this?!? tell me, what is so interesting in the rest of your life that you just don;t show up for weeks? i want some of it, whatever it is.

Wicker Parker said...

Jim, thanks for posting. I am always glad to have my entrenched prejudices overturned; the Vacherons did just that.

Neil, I know I am bad about vanishing from the blogosphere for a week or two! Sometimes I'm just busy, but that's too often an excuse. Per Alice Feiring I want to do more that just write about what I had with dinner the previous night, and sometimes I feel I don't feel I have particular insight to offer -- and on top of that, I sometimes chew things over for too long. It's probably better policy to write, write, write and not worry so much about the ideal end result (it's not like I'm writing a book, eh?).