In a nutshell: A quite understated, elegant and subtly oak aged Sancerre from a highly regarded producer.
The lowdown: Jean-Paul Balland was among the first to use oak for maturing Sauvignon Blanc. This, their premium white cuvée comes from a few specially selected parcels among their vines. About 60% in this consistently award winning Sancerre has been aged in large oak barrels which adds texture, weight and a real richness. On top there are complex honeyed and exotic spice notes joining the classic citrus and chalky, steely minerality.
When to drink: In all it makes for a superb, premium Sancerre to which the oak ageing adds an inviting complexity.
Jean-Paul Balland and his wife Magali, who come from a long line of wine growers, have successfully worked their estate, around the village of Bué just west of Sancerre, for over forty years. They're now in the process of handing over the running of the domaine to their two daughters, Elise and Isabelle. A Burgundy trained oenologist, Isabelle is in charge of winemaking while her husband Julien, who joined the Domaine in 2017, is responsible for the vioneyards. Elise runs the impressively efficient admin operation.
They have some 20 hectares with fine plots on Le Grand Chemarin and Le Chêne Marchand. Impressive new cellars were completed just in time for the 2015 vintage and has further improved the already exemplary winemaking. The wines of Bué are full and rich in style and the Balland wines are a classic example from this village. The estate is widely considered to make the best wine in the village and they were one of the first in Sancerre to vinify Sauvignon Blanc in oak. Isabelle is certainly living up to the high standrads set by her father and the estate is clearly in good hands and their reputation remains as high as ever.