Thomas-Labaille, Sancerre

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Winemaker Claude Thomas finally retired in his late 70s when son-in-law, Jean-Paul Labaille, took over as vigneron. Since then, only minimal changes have occurred. The vineyards remain among the best in Chavignol, with a large proportion of old vines. The Monts Damnés plot is too steep a slope to ever consider machine harvesting, which is now the norm in the appellation, and it requires intensive, non-mechanized vineyard work. But the slope receives excellent drainage and exposure, which ensure the best ripeness for the vintage. Jean-Paul Labaille creates in a Burgundian type of cellar. Some cuvées still age in large concrete vats, others in stainless-steel. The oak barrels have been re-placed by newer ones two to three years old, not to impart any oaky character to the wine, but rather to let it breathe and evolve slowly on its lees.