A recent trip to see the Vatan family - in the hamlet of Chaudoux below the hill of Sancerre - found them on fine form with son Adrian now working alongside his parents André and Arielle. A major three-year building project has now been completed, comprising a smart new chai and bottling line that is a world away from the rustic smallholding we first visited in the early 1970s. Construction clearly hasn't distracted them from the day job as their wines absolutely shone throughout our extensive tasting.
The principal cuvée, in terms of volume, is the white 'Les Perriers' bottling of Sancerre that has textbook 'cut grass' and gooseberry scents and a citrus-edged palate underscored by nervy mineral notes. It is perennially popular because it's consistently excellent. As is the 'Maulin Bèle' rosé which has a charming coral pink robe, a bright redcurrant bouquet and a wealth of summer berry flavours. As Burgundy prices rise, ineluctably red Sancerre looks increasingly good value to lovers of pure Pinot Noir. The Vatans' version has wild strawberry aromas and flavours offset by some more savoury 'forest floor' notes and delicate tannins. It drinks well lightly chilled and makes a fine partner for grilled chicken or tuna steaks.