How is wine this good not more famous? Labaille's 2019 Monts Damnés Sancerres
If Jean-Paul Labaille were making wines this good in Burgundy, they would cost a small fortune and be almost impossible to find. A traditional producer with old vines in incredible terroir? Check. Delicious wines that you can drink young, and that age beautifully? Check, check.
We've been telling everyone who will listen how much we love Labaille at least since Jeff wrote about our visit to the Domaine in 2012. But the wines, are still available in quantities large enough to feature them here and in our weekly Newsletter – even Labaille’s single-vineyard Monts Damnés bottlings.
Click here to buy the wines from the New York City store.
Why isn’t Sancerre a bigger deal? In part, it’s a victim of its own success. The name “Sancerre” is so firmly associated with the oceans of passable-at-best Sauvignon Blanc made in bulk by companies with no interest in terroir, that it doesn’t tend to conjure thoughts of exciting, minerally wines in the way that Chablis, Puligny, and even Pouilly-Fuissé can.
There are stirrings that this is changing. A few growers have become culty or collectible (Vatan, the Cotats, Boulay). And we get more and more requests from customers who want to dive deep into Sancerre, looking for bottles to compare the regions’ different soils.
But still, Sancerre’s most famous site, Les Monts Damnés, is hardly a household name — even though it’s rich in the Kimmeridgian limestone that makes Chablis’ best wines so distinctive. Monts Damnés even looks like a Grand Cru site: it’s a steep hill that gets the sun you need to ripen Sauvignon Blanc out of the green register and into its full spectrum of flavors. It makes wines with power and beautiful fruit, but with the intense minerality and fine acid you need for balance.
Frankly, it’s one of France’s greatest terroirs.
And we can’t imagine a better way to take a deep dive on it, than Labaille’s 2019s. 2019 is shaping up to be a great Sancerre vintage. The wines are generous and yet terroir-correct, with invigorating and well-integrated acids. Labaille’s Monts Damnés bottlings have that vibrant 2019 structure but also show a roundness of texture and a balance of citrus and richer fruit that make the wines above all, delicious.
The old vine version, “Cuvée Buster,” will need some time to really hit its stride though it’s already a delicious and generous wine. The straight Monts Damnés will also develop nicely with a little time in the bottle, but it’s showing so well now that you probably won’t be able to keep your hands off it.
Just one word of warning: while the wines aren’t scarce enough to pre-sell on allocation, they are to scarce to last for long on the shelf (or on the internet). So don’t hesitate to click through and grab some bottles!