Spotlight: Labaille's L'authentique
Though 2018 will long be remembered [in Sancerre] for just how gorgeous the fruit tones of sauvignon blanc came through in the finished wines, there is absolutely no diminution in the underlying terroir of these wines and fans of the top estates here are likely to be extremely happy with the 2018s
– John Gilman, View From the Cellar Sept-Oct 2019
When legendary importer Louis/Dressner discovered the domaine of Thomas-Labaille, the vines were still being tended by hand. Lying in the famous Sancerre village of Chavignol, Jean-Paul Labaille’s father-in-law, Claude Thomas, was at the helm at the time.
And so it was, that Jean-Paul learned the old ways from Claude, and eventually took over.
Today, with Jean-Paul at the helm, Thomas-Labaeille makes a wide range of delicious wines. The family jewels are their old vines in the Monts Damnés, a vineyard that would undoubtedly be one of Sancerre’s Grand Crus, if there was such a thing. We go into a lot of detail about Sancerre's incredible vineyards in our 4-part series. You can check it out here.
The Monts Damnés that Jean-Paul makes are aged exclusively in oak barrels for up to a year before bottling.
But Jean-Paul also makes a younger, fresher wine that is released earlier and meant for immediate consumption. Formerly it was just bottled as straight Sancerre, but for the past few vintages, it is labeled as the cuvée “l’Authentique”.
This wine is a blend of all of the estate’s parcels, which are exclusively on Kimmeridgian soils and entirely in the village of Chavignol. To learn a bit more about the soil Labaille is working with, read our blog post about Kimmeridgian Sancerre here.
Like all of the Labaille wines it is hand harvested (not the standard in Sancerre these days) and is fermented with native yeasts. It ages in concrete instead of barrels to maintain freshness and Sancerre's signature taut, linear texture.
The focus and style of l’Authentique is more in step with the types of bistro Sancerre that you see the world over, but this is not generic Sauvignon Blanc. Thanks to Jean-Paul’s devotion the terroir and tradition of his village and region, this wine is a beautiful expression of its vintage and place.
2018 is a blockbuster vintage in Sancerre and the l’Authentique is a perfect introduction to the year and it arrives just in time to cool everyone off in the middle of July.