Sébastien Vaillant learnt his winemaking craft while he was cellar manager for Jean...
Tatin at Domaine des Ballandors in Quincy. His delicious and good value Valençay is 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% unoaked Chardonnay, which Sébastien feels adds body and texture to the blend. The fruit is sourced from his own vineyard which sits in the rain shadow of the nearby forest, providing drier, healthier conditions for growing grapes. Valençay achieved official AC status from the 2002 vintage and is the only area to hold this for both its wine and its distinctive pyramid-shaped goat's cheese, which is also the ideal accompaniment for the wine.
Sébastien Vaillant's domaine covers 24 hectares. It lies on clay/flint soils which continue east to Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre. The flint in particular gives the characteristic mineral quality to all the best wines made in this area. There are also patches of sandy/lime soils here, over very stony and clay subsoils which add richness and depth. Sébastien's vines are approximately 20 years old. The Sauvignon Blanc is planted on clay and flint soils and the Chardonnay on sandy lime soils.
Winter during 2015 was mild. Until the end of February, winter rainfall was higher than average, helping to build up a good reserve of water in the soils and subsoils ready for spring. The growth cycle kicked in slightly late, but conditions from early April onwards quickly made up for any delay. Warm temperatures and little rainfall produced a healthy crop of ripe grapes, promising wines with great concentration and complexity.
The Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc were picked, pressed and fermented together in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks at 16-17°C, for approximately three weeks. A part of this "cuvée" was made by maceration of the juice and skins for one night in the press. After three months fermentation the wines were racked, blended and allowed to mature on the fine lees for four months before bottling. The lees were stirred every other week, giving extra richness and body to the wine.
Light lemon in colour with a lovely grassy, citrus nose showing plenty of zesty Sauvignon Blanc aroma. On the palate, it has great balance with racy acidity that is rounded out by the richer Chardonnay. Creamy but still very lively, with a mineral note on the finish.