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Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Guigne Chevres 2011

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Wine Advocate #201 Jun 2012 David Schildknecht (92-93) Drink: Now Vacheron?s 2011 Sancerre Guigne-Chevres smells fusil and chalky in a manner that puts me a bit in mind of Chablis, as does the amazingly savory ?whole oyster? experience ? liquor, nutty innards, and shell ? that I experience on the silken palate of this wine, which almost certainly gained and will probably continue to gain from extended albeit passive contact with its lees. Generous lime and honeydew see to it that the fruity side of things doesn?t come up short in the otherwise mineral magical kingdom this wine evidently inhabits. While not quite as concentrated and explosive as its 2010 counterpart, it memorably confirms the extraordinary potential of an, until now, obscure site (which I have described as part of my notes on that 2010). I suspect that here, too, we?re in the presence of a wine that will keep exceptionally well by the standards of its vintage, which would mean for a half dozen years in the present instance. I wrote extensively in Issue 190 about recent developments at their domaine, and this year the dynamic duo of young cousins Jean-Laurent and Jean-Dominique Vacheron filled my ear and my tasting glass with so many tales of new plantings, projects, and bottlings; insights into terroir and technique; and well-considered evolutions in approach, that I can only manage to touch on a few of these in the introductory lines and tasting notes which follow. Suffice it to say for keeping in view the big picture, that the nexus of human talent and vinous quality that is Domaine Vacheron keeps increasing in brightness and intensity (although one can?t help noting that the prices keep pace), while approaches in the vineyards become increasingly meticulous and labor-intensive, and those in the cellar emphasize ? always in an experimental spirit ? gentler fermentative extraction for Pinot and larger-sized, increasingly neutral barrels for both reds and whites. In particular, the use of upright wooden fermentors for aging Sauvignon as well ? an approach only begun (as I described in issue 190) with certain wines of the 2009 vintage ? has been greatly extended. Filtration has been virtually eliminated ? entirely so for vintage 2010 ? a development made possible, say the Vacherons, by the greater insights and watchfulness they now bring to bear on white wine elevage, which in any event has long been unusually leisurely at this address. Predictably placing great emphasis on what they take to be the fruits of prolonged biodynamic cultivation, the Vacherons point out that the grapes they began harvesting on September 24, 2010 were ripe and their acidity majority tartaric, observations that are certainly corroborated in the glass. Their claim to have largely avoided and otherwise sorted out any less than perfect fruit in 2011 ? when they began harvesting three full weeks earlier than in 2010 ? is similarly backed up by the gustatory evidence. The past two years have, as Jean-Laurent Vacheron notes, been characterized by ?harvesting the Sauvignons a bit earlier, for freshness, and risking leaving the Pinots to ripen further and be picked last. With Pinot,? he adds, ?we don?t pick apart any bunches on the sorting table; if there?s any rot the whole bunch gets eliminated,? a rigor that ? when combined with later, riper picking ? dovetails with their enhanced retention of whole berries and with gentler extraction, approaches that have taken to a new level of refinement (and, I suspect, of harmonious aging potential) what were already widely considered the best of their appellation ? and if you don?t believe me, just compare the Vacherons? 2010 reds with those of almost any other grower?s from that challenging Pinot vintage! (My notes on the nature of individual sites as well as on elevage were generally taken in connection with tasting the 2010s, so look for them incorporated into the applicable 2010 vintage tasting notes.)

Additional information

Weight 5 lbs
Dimensions 12 × 4 × 4 in
Product Code

33-00**

Condition

Properly Cellar; Distinguished Provenance

Size

750 ml

Region

Loire Valley, Sancerre

Vintage

2011

Country

France

Winery

Guigne Chevres