Domaine Vacheron is a producer located in Sancerre, in the Loire Valley region of France. Run today by third generation brothers Jean-Laurent and Jean-Dominique Vacheron, in 2005 the brothers adopted complete biodynamic practices in both the vineyard and cellar. Producing both Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, they are considered to be one of the best producers in Sancerre.
A significant reason why the brothers wanted to change over to biodynamic practices was to allow the distinct terroir of Sancerre to be showcased in the wines. Domaine Vacheron is planted on silex soils, which is clay and limestone based, topped off with flint. This type of soil gives the wines a particular minerality and saltiness, as well as a trademark smoky quality. The parcels the Vacheron brothers own in the “Les Romains” and “Belle Dame” vineyards are particularly known for this.
The Vacheron brothers produce two Sauvignon Blanc, the Sancerre Blanc and Sancerre Blanc “Les Romains”, and two Pinot Noir, the Sancerre Rouge and Sancerre Rouge “Belle Dame”. While many producers in Sancerre focus more on white varieties than red, Domaine Vacheron places great importance in their Pinot Noir and celebrates it. In the vineyard, everything is hand-harvested and the only fertilizer allowed is compost. In the cellar, tanks are the main vessel for fermentation, while a minimal amount of oak is used on the vineyard designates offerings. Critics have likened the “Belle Dame” to the best of Grand Cru Burgundy, but with higher acidity and purity.
Vacheron’s 2016 Sancerre Belle Dame offers a beautiful ruby color with a dark core and garnet shimmer. It is peppery and fresh on the pure, refined and spicy nose that reveals ripe and stewed cherry and just-ripe berry aromas with leafy forest and some peppery notes. The 2016 is a coolish, fine, elegant, silky-textured and intense yet crisp Pinot Noir with the architecture of a flint stone terroir. This has a vertical, tight and concentrated structure with a serious tannin grip and very good length. It is still somewhat brittle yet food-friendly and finer after some hours of aeration. Tasted in February 2021. 92/100 robertparker.com