2007 Vatan Sancerre "Clos la Neore"
"Clos de la Neore is by any stretch of the imagination
one of the world's greatest white wines." John Gilman
With Stephen away in Germany , I'm filling in as "captain" of the Crush email program this week.
In preparation of his trip, we've squirreled away some of our favorite wines. So, today we'll start strong, a personal favorite at a great price: the most recent edition of incredible Sancerre from Edmond Vatan, who at 80 years old, continues to coax the best from his renowned Clos La Neore vineyard.
While tasting the 2007 on Friday (it just arrived!), I was floored by the the prettiest and most elegant wine from Mssr. Vatan that I've sampled to date, and struck by the paradoxes not only of the wine, but of the man himself.
Consider that Vatan publicly retired from winemaking several years ago only to continue to release wine for friends ... or that he delights (and unites) wine critics in completely opposite camps, who rarely agree on anything because their opposite palates.
John Gilman called Vatan "the Henri Jayer of Sancerre" while Robert Parker wrote in a post on his bulletin board that he was "officially addicted to ... Clos de Neore" proclaiming "this is Sancerre at its best"
How does it happen? Perhaps it is because the wine itself is always a paradox: such concentration, power and vibrancy while still remaining delicate and light on its feet. Somehow, Vatan gets the cliche "something for everyone" to truly mean something.
If the 2006 will almost certainly last 20 years, the 2007 is a mid-term drinker. While the '07 will undoubtedly continue to improve for 5-10 years, for now it's an ethereal clean and pure wine that's ready to accompany oysters on the half shell, or you with the Sunday Times on your "balcony" (in NYC, a fire escape counts!)
On the nose, the 2007 shows honey and flowers while bright lemon/lime citrus notes translate directly onto the palate, where the textbook Vatan waxy texture shines through. The midpalate is reserved at this point in the wine's life, but it's clear that there is more waiting to unfold, while the finish is salty and gravelly yet clean.
While his wine is without comparison, I've likened Vatan to Michael Jordan; not only due to his extraordinary talent, but also because of the extreme anxiety with which his fans now watch his every harvest, never knowing when he'll decide that he has spoken his last "Sancerre" and like Jordan, walk off the court for good.
Yes, yes, last year (and the year before) I've equated Vatan's likely exit vintage to Michael Jordan draining "the Shot" with only seconds remaining in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA finals. But Vatan has returned again, finding it nearly impossible to walk away from his life's work. If his 2006 effort was more Bulls "Take II" rather than Washington Wizards fade away, the 2007 is his Hall of Fame induction speech.
Regardless of whether you're as tired as Stephen is of the analogy (I can hear him yelling "nooooo!" all the way from the Mosel) we're all grateful that the master continues to play the game simply for the love of it.
Will Vatan make wine in 2008? We hope so, but it's anyone's guess - who would blame him for calling it quits at the ripe age of 80. After all, the Clos la Neore isn't getting any flatter. One thing is clear: while he takes considerable pride at the appearance of his wines in top 3-star French restaurants, Vatan certainly doesn't need to bolster his reputation any further. (By the way, he personally recommends Taillevent in Paris as a great place to drink his wines - where they've been for over 40 years).
If you are at all interested in what, to my palate, is one of the best bottles of Sauvignon Blanc I've had in several years, please call (212) 980-9463 or click button below to secure your allocation.