Domaine Vincent Delaporte

France, Loire

Patrick and I first visited Vincent Delaporte in 1986, a memorable end to a long day, we finished by tasting older and older red and white Sancerres. His wines were in Steven Spurrier's selection for the Caves de la Madeleine, where I had worked several years earlier, and the London end of which Patrick was running at the time. They have featured in the Lea & Sandeman selection since our very first list. The domaine passed to Vincent's son Jean-Yves and his wife Nathalie, and now their son Matthieu is in charge, after a 'stage' at L&S in the summer of 2012, and taken over the winemaking role. They have recently incorporated the vines of Matthieu's uncle, giving them two new jewels in the crown, decent holdings in the Monts Damnés (white) and Cul de Beaujeu (red).

Matthieu has taken the domaine in the direction of organic farming, although he still hesitates over going for certification. He has stopped buying new barrels, and stopped using cultured yeasts, sometimes allowing malolactic fermentation to occur. Levels of sulphur are kept to the barest minimum.

In Chavignol, at the foot of the famous Monts Damnés hillside, Matthieu, 31, has been in charge of the family estate Vincent Delaporte for ten years now, alongside his father Jean-Yves. And Matthieu's first decision was to "sell lots of machines" that he no longer wanted in his vines, to find a less noisy and more respectful gesture. "We also stopped feeding the vines like at McDonald's, to give them a sporty rhythm." With all this, the 33 hectares are now on the verge of organic certification ... "And now, it's my father who pushes me, and I who hesitate", smiles the winemaker. We suspect that it will probably not be too long ... Because, obviously, this property is at a turning point. All the hard work accomplished in recent years, but also the significant investments made in the cellar, today give Matthieu the latitude necessary to assert his style in his wines: "I am against the grain." To begin with, on the range side, there are only four different names, the opposite of the Burgundian trend that prevails in Sancerre and which recommends a microcuvée for each specific corner of every vineyard. At Delaporte, we therefore have Chavignol (a red, a white, a rosé), Silex (a white, a red - which is rare), Monts Damnés (white) and Cul de Beaujeu (red). "If I could, I would only make three wines, as was done in the 90s here: a white, a red and a rosé", laughs Matthieu. Second step: stop buying new barrels, to erase the woody effect, halve the doses of sulphur and forget about the selected yeasts, to let the wines ferment on their own. "It's complicated, recognizes Matthieu. And suddenly, the malo is sometimes done, which is not common for a Sancerre. But I don't care." What the wines lose in tension, they gain in energy and originality. "You have to accept diversity. If all the wines are alike, you make yourself sh... By removing the cultured yeasts, I succeeded in rediscovering the authenticity of the terroir. I made a lot of mistakes, but I trust my instinct a lot." Terre et Vins  (Mar 2020)