Domaine Vacheron Les Marnes Sancerre Rouge 2010
The latest single-vineyard selection from this biodynamic powerhouse is a unique Pinot Noir from “marne de crétacée,” or loamy, clay-rich soils with lots of ancient seashells. Such rare terroir is seen in Sancerre but usually not in such a concentration. The result is a fresh yet full-bodied Sancerre Rouge rich in red berry fruit. Aromas of red cherries, red plums, light pepper. Fresh yet full-bodied with mineral notes mix with profound berry flavors.
Pair this wine alongside grilled lamb, beef, or an aged French cheeses plate.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Reminding me of a Côte de Beaune from a cooler vintage, the 2010 Sancerre Rouge Les Marnes sports a lighter ruby, translucent color to go with elegant, pretty notes of spiced red fruits, flowers, forest floor, and hints of shiitake mushrooms. Elegant, medium-bodied, and silky on the palate, it's a beautiful red that's drinking great today yet should keep for another decade.
This is a selection from distinctive soil on one of the Vacherons’ southeast-facing hillsides. They describe it as marne de crétacée, loamy clay packed with fossilized seashells, where the biodynamically farmed vines are now 35 years old. The rose fragrance and the mineral tension of the wine lend it delicate length. Classical in style, clean and still lively at eight years of age, this is a delicious and intriguing rarity.
Organic viticulture has been a goal of the family for a number of years; as of 2003, the entire estate was certified organic. The following year the winery was converted completely to biodynamic agriculture--to be sure, you won't find more terroir-driven Sancerre anywhere else in the appellation. Jean-Dominique and Jean-Laurent Vacheron are ably leading the domaine to ever-loftier winemaking heights. The wines speak for themselves—always consistent, the quality of Vacheron Sancerre continues to astound.
Marked by its charming hilltop village in the easternmost territory of the Loire, Sancerre is famous for its racy, vivacious, citrus-dominant Sauvignon blanc. Its enormous popularity in 1970s French bistros led to its success as the go-to restaurant white around the globe in the 1980s.
While the region claims a continental climate, noted for short, hot summers and long, cold winters, variations in topography—rolling hills and steep slopes from about 600 to 1,300 feet in elevation—with great soil variations, contribute the variations in character in Sancerre Sauvignon blancs.
In the western part of the appellation, clay and limestone soils with Kimmeridgean marne, especially in Chavignol, produce powerful wines. Moving closer to the actual town of Sancerre, soils are gravel and limestone, producing especially delicate wines. Flint (silex) soils close to the village produce particularly perfumed and age-worthy wines.
About ten percent of the wines claiming the Sancerre appellation name are fresh and light red wines made from Pinot noir and to a lesser extent, rosés. While not typically exported in large amounts, they are well-made and attract a loyal French following.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”