Serious Sancerre for Summer and Beyond
2008 Labaille Sancerre "Cuvee Buster"
In the Sancerre Pantheon with Vatan and Cotat
For many Sancerre is simply irresistible in the summer.
There's something about its freshness, its zingy citrus flavors, its lip-smacking fruits that make it the summer wine par excellence.
The problem is that prices for the top bottlings have risen - most of the sub-$30 bottlings are nondescript whites that trade more on name than quality.
Today, we offer a top Sancerre among the ranks of Vatan and Cotat, though with this parcel we're able to price the wine closer to the more modest bottlings: Thomas Labaille's 2008 Sancerre "Cuvée Buster." This is an intense Sauvignon Blanc, staining flavors yet nimble and outrageously clean, sharp... zingy.
This is a Sancerre that is versatile enough for the roofdeck, the park, the more serious dinner table or even the cellar. Though this may not have the density to make old bones like a Vatan, this will evolve and increase in complexity with 5+ years in the cellar.
This is not your normal Labaille: This bottling represents a special barrel selection made by the wine's importer Louis/Dressner, who without a doubt holds the greatest number of top Loire estates in a single portfolio. (Buster is the name of their late dog whose picture graces the bottle's neck label, featured below.)
The Buster is sourced from some of the oldest vines in Sancerre, around 80 years old and situated in the choicest sites of the steep Monts Damnes (the "damned mountain") vineyard. The Monts Damnes has the same Kimmeridgian soils as Chablis and is generally thought to be Sancerre's top site. Both the Cotats work the Monts Damnes and Vatan's "Clos de la Neore" is from this vineyard as well.
It's hard to overemphasize the importance of the Kimmeridgian soils here - this stony site obviously offers the wine its complex, dense and compact mineral expression, but it also seems to add to the intensity and precision of the wine, as if the lime-green is more intense simply because the foundation, the background, is such a pure, gleaming white.
Though 2008 was not an easy vintage, the Buster shows a great combination of high acid and richness. The wine offers up a complex medley of stone fruits, goose berries, honey, spice and herbs, an expression of Sancerre that is less grassy and cloudy, and much more piercing, refreshing and mineral-driven.
The connections, both in the vineyard and in the bottle, with Vatan and Cotat are obvious enough. We strongly encourage fans of these benchmark Sancerres to try a Thomas Labaille "Buster."
The Cuvée Buster normally trades above $30 - this offer is good for one parcel only, which we were able to purchase at sharper-than-normal pricing. With the July 4th weekend around the corner, the timing seemed just about perfect, though then again, this is a wine that will offer pleasure long into the fall and winter as well.
So stock up while you can. To order, please call the store at (212) 980-9463 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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