Vincent Dancer cultivates 6 hectares across Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, Pommard and Beaune, family vines that he took over in 1996 after training in oenology and viticulture. As with all vocations, though, he has never stopped learning. Here is the story of a beautiful, family domain.
Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, Pommard and Beaune…a list of villages that evokes the Côte de Beaune’s famous wine road. It was right here in this legendary region that Vincent turned up with his suitcases in 1996, placing them down on the ground of his ancestors. Originally from Alsace where his parents were settled, Vincent carried out military service straight after high school. Upon his return, whilst he had always wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps to become an engineer – “I never drank wine” – he learnt that the family owned a property and some surrounding vineyards in Chassagne-Montrachet. Without thinking twice, Vincent signed up for a diploma in oenology in Beaune, “just to see”. He found himself training alongside people who were truly passionate about wine, and their love for the product and the vineyard work soon rubbed off on him.
In 1996, at the end of his training and at the age of just 22, he set himself up in Chassagne-Montrachet at the family property, beginning work on 3 and a half hectares of vines. His uncle Philippe Ballot, a winemaker in Meursault, lent a hand for the first vintage, a big help considering the domain didn’t yet have its own winery. This was built just a year later, then expanded year on year to become a fully functioning domain. To begin with, Vincent sold a section of his harvest to the négoces since he lacked space and material, apart from in 2003 when the yield was particularly low. From the year 2000, he picked up the remaining family parcels, completing his range by purchasing some extra ones in 2013.
The fact of having only his uncle to help him along hasn’t caused any issues for Vincent: methods have been put into place as he understands them, with some of his ‘mistakes’ turning out to be interesting innovations that pushed him in a different direction. Since 2006 he has been working organically, though he wasn’t so interested in getting certified. “At the time, people didn’t see certification as important.” Then, in 2012, when his vines did receive certification, he saw this more as a way of being transparent with his clientele. “What matters to me isn’t simply the result, it’s really the process that gets you there. I want my work to be in line with my own beliefs, so what I do is respectful of the vines and what they produce. Even better if people like my wine in the end!”
Vincent doesn’t wish to mask anything in his cuvées, seeking to reveal the terroir and the vintage of each wine. For this, the harvests are carried out by hand, as tradition dictates. The temperature in the winery is never tampered with, and no sulphites are added to the raw product. For the white wines, fermentation takes place in oak barrels.
Any upcoming projects for the domain? To plant one and a half hectares of vines in the currently unused Nantoux parcel. “This parcel is in a prairie in the Bourgogne appellation. It hasn’t been planted on yet and is part of a magnificent landscape where the chalky rock is surrounded by forest. Lots of walkers go through there, which is why I want the vines to be blended into the environment. The hedges will be kept there, it won’t just be a block of vines.”
La Revue du Vin de France has described the domain thus: ‘Vincent Dancer is one of Burgundy’s undoubtedly talented wine makers. Open-minded and a perfectionist, he makes wines of great purity that are sometimes a bit marked by oak in their youth, but have superb texture.’