I haven’t been so excited about Chassagne Montrachet for a long time since discovering the brilliant quality of Domaine Bernard Moreau a few years ago. Vincent Dancer is one of my favourite producers in Burgundy. He grew up in Alsace and picked up photography as well as a love of wine from his father. Vincent came to Burgundy after completing his engineering degree and fell in love with the region. Vincent’s family had some vineyards rented out to relatives and Vincent gradually took in control of the vineyards and started making wines in Chassagne Montrachet.
1996 was Vincent Dancer’s first vintage. He started with 3.50 ha of vineyards in 1996 and today he has 6.20 ha of vineyards (though not all vineyards are in operation). Vincent is hoping to expand the portfolio to 8 ha sometime soon.
There are only a few producers in Chassagne Montrachet that is certified organic, Vincent Dancer was the first one to be certified in Chassagne Montrachet. He stopped using herbicides completely in 2000, and started organic viticulture in 2006. Vincent’s minimal intervention approach and winemaking philosophies are very compelling. Native yeasts, no sulphur during elevage, no fining or filtration, natural malolactic fermentation. When I asked Vincent how he controls reduction, he replies humbly ‘I don’t know exactly how to create reduction, if it happens, it happens.’
There is a stigma of doing battonage in white wines. To be fair, there were some producers who overdid battonage which ultimately created some overtly-fatty wines that was at high risk of premox. Vincent Dancer don’t always employ battonage as his wines have very long fermentation period, but he did a small amount of battonage in 2015 as well as 2016.
In terms of new oak, Vincent Dancer uses small amounts depending on vintage. The oak barrel comes from one cooper in Chassagne Montrachet. Dancer doesn’t ask for specific style of toast as he believes a cooper is like a restaurant chef, he said with a smile ‘You won’t go to a restaurant and tell the chef how to cook, why should you with a cooper?’ We all laughed and nodded afterwards. For the 2014 vintage, Dancer employed 18% new oak on the Meursault village (2/11 barrels of new oak), 11% new oak on the Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru La Romanee (1/9 barrels of new oak).
Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru 0.10 ha, Meursault Perrieres Premier Cru 0.29ha, Chassagne Montrachet La Romanee Premier Cru, Chassagne Montrachet Tête du Clos Premier Cru 0.30 ha, Meursault Les Grands Charrons 0.29ha, Meursault Les Corbins, Chassagne Montrachet, Bourgogne Blanc.
In 2016, Vincent Dancer made about 35 barrels of white wine and 10 barrels of red wine.
Bourgogne Blanc 2016
The Bourgogne Blanc of Vincent Dancer comes from a mixture of 2 vineyards from the Meursault and Puligny Montrachet Bourgogne regions planted in 1999. Neat apple and citrus fruits with refreshing acidity. Clean and charming with subtle reduction. A notch up from the 2015. (84/100)
Chassagne Montrachet village 2016
The Chassagne Montrachet village is a blend of two parcels, La Bergerie (near Criots Batard Montrachet) and Les Voillenots Dessus. Slightly more concentration and richness than the Bourgogne blanc as expected. Good ripeness yet it is still subtle and well-balanced. (85-86/100)
Meursault Les Grands Charrons 2016
Vincent Dancer owns 0.3 ha of Les Grands Charrons, planted in 1950s. Very low yield – only 600 bottles produced in 2016. Elegant with refined creaminess and ripe citrus. Good energy and weight for a village Meursault. Expressive and delicious already. (86-87/100)
Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Tête du Clos 2016
Tête du Clos is one of the best premier cru vineyards of Chassagne Montrachet, limestone soil. Technically Tête du Clos is part of Morgeot Abbey, and only a couple of producers label Tête du Clos. Vincent owns 0.3 ha of vineyard in Tête du Clos, planted in 1954. The Tête du Clos fermentation was long and finished at the end of December 2016. Great concentration of citrus and tree fruits, cool and sleek. Expressing the terroir nicely. Good mineral backbone. (89-91/100)
Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru La Romanee 2016
The Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru La Romanee is a slight notch up from the Tête du Clos. Located at the top of the slope in Chassagne Montrachet, the soil is well-drained and grapes ripen slowly, giving more intensity and richer flavours to the wine. The vines were planted in 1980 and 1994. The intensity and fragrance are very close to Grand Cru quality. Superb tension, full-bodied with a rich yellow fruit and creamy minerals. In great harmony and balance like the yin and yang. Subtle buttery popcorn and focused finish. (90-92/100)
Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrieres 2016
Vincent Dancer’s Meursault Les Perrieres is something special. Dancer owns 0.29 ha of Meursault Perrieres at the northern side of Les Perrieres-Dessous. Vines planted at the end of 1970s and mid 1990s. The nose offers wonderful array of tree and yellow fruits, exotic and buttery fragrant. Very generous and expressive aromas with detailed subtlety. Full bodied with lovely acidity and electrifying minerality. Great length. (93-95/100)
Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru 2016
Vincent Dancer owns 0.1 ha of the highly priced Chevalier Montrachet, roughly one barrel is made every year. Dancer bought the parcel in 2000, located roughly in the middle of Chevalier Montrachet, a long row from top to the bottom of Chevalier. The vines were planted in 1952. Unlike the charming Chassagne Montrachet La Romanee and Meursault Perrieres, the Chevalier Montrachet requires a lot of time to show its true grace and complexity. At this stage, it is deep with huge amount of latent energy. Full bodied with great drive. Subtle ripe citrus, yellow fruits and buttery perfumes. Great complexity and serious power. Minute long finish. (95-96/100)
Other than the incredible whites, Vincent Dancer also produces a few red wines. Pretty and elegant in style.
Bourgogne Rouge 2016
The Pinot Noir of this Bourgogne Rouge comes from Pommard. Pretty dark cherry and mixed berry fruit. Leaning towards acidic. (81-82/100)
Pommard Les Perrieres 2016
This village vineyard is located below the more famous 1er Cru Epenots. Good lift of cherry spice and vibrant juiciness. A classic Pommard without the austere tannins. Good reflection of the terroir. (83/100)
Beaune 1er Cru Les Montrevenots 2016
This wine comes from fairly young vines planted in the late 90s. The Beaune Les Montrevenots has a floral aroma with good ripe cherry and red berries. Nicely made with a bit more substance than the Pommard Les Perrieres. Stylish wine in a classic vintage. (84-85/100)
Pommard 1er Cru Les Pezerolles 2016
The Pommard Les Pezerolles is an extremely low yield wine. In 2016 the yield was 10hl/ha, and in 2012 Dancer only got 4hl/ha from Les Pezerolles. Darker shade of fruit with good richness and complexity. Rounder body with juicy red fruits. Good tannic grip and acidity. (86-87/100)
The production of Vincent Dancer is small, plus 70% of his stock stays in France, which makes it even harder to find elsewhere! Only 6 bottles of Chevalier Montrachet went to USA last year!
A quick note about the 2017 vintage for Vincent Dancer. Overall the quality of his grapes are excellent with good quantity. The 2017 wines are spending 17 months on elevage.