Sancerre Unicorn

Today’s Story: Domaine Edmond Vatan

Domaine Edmond Vatan is a miniscule but highly regarded producer situated in the small town of Chavignol in the Sancerre appellation of France’s Loire Valley. The vineyards consist only of one hectare (2.5 acres) and are planted to the Sauvignon Blanc variety as is required for white wines in the appellation. Vatan’s vines, planted on the steepest slopes with optimal sun exposure, are low-yielding and severely pruned to maximize quality and intensity. Vatan also uses minimal additives/treatments in the vineyards, harvests later than his neighbors, and vinifies the wines adhering to very traditional methods in old oak barrels. The wines are racked only once and then bottled without fining or filtration. Since 2008, Edmond’s daughter Anne took over production following his semi-retirement during the early 2000s, though he is still involved as a guide and teacher. Production is incredibly limited, with about 500 cases total produced each vintage.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Clos La Néore Sancerre

100% Sauvignon Blanc; 14% ABV

The 2017 Clos La Néore is pale yellow in color. This is a baby by preposterous standards, so at this stage it needs several hours to open up. Only by the end of the day did this start opening up, and I wish we had the restraint to hold it into a second day. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, showcasing notes of lemon and lime zest, white peach, freshly cut grass, wet river stone, and saline mineral. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity, with the palate displaying notes of meyer lemon, tropical citrus, lychee, pineapple, chopped grass, wet slate, and crushed rock mineral. This dry Sauvignon Blanc is medium- to full-bodied with racy high acidity, high alcohol, and a long finish. Very, very good, but just way too young.

Price: $275 (shared by a friend who paid $200). I can’t call this a good value, but I can see what the hype is after this gets several hours of air. This is certainly an excellent representation of the Sauvignon Blanc variety, and one that has the ability to age for decades. But is it a necessary purchase given the price? Probably not.

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