For such a small village like Chavignol, it certainly is a hotspot for Sancerre. From tiny, family-owned domaines presiding over just a handful of rows of vines, to much larger entities producing wine from their own and bought-in grapes, there is a lot on the go here. But, for all the names worth looking into, there is one that stands apart. François Cotat.
”Iconic and idiosyncratic, the wines of François Cotat are codeword for cellar-worthy Sancerre. Chavignol born and bred, Cotat has five hectares on Sancerre’s most famed hillsides: Les Monts Damnés and Le Cul de Beaujeu and the lesser-known Grands Côte, which has a similar exposition to Cul de Beaujeu. He makes four cuvées and has always been hands off…The wines all have an intensity of concentration that comes from low yields on a top site and impressive structure. Are they classic Sancerre? No, they’re Cotat.”
Rebecca Gibb MW for Vinous (August 2021)
The word ”caillottes” refers to the type of stones covering the top layer of soil. This vineyard is planted across a flatter area, due east of the slope where the vineyard of Monts Damnés is. The soil here, comprised of Kimmeridgian clay with a top layer of these stones, results in wines with lovely zip and an array of yellow fruit. Of all of Cotat’s wines, the Caillottes is the most approachable in its youth and the best introduction to his style and philosophy.
The vineyard of Les Monts Damnés is characterised by what is known as ”terres blanches” (clay limestone) and, from Cotat, produces his most chiseled and complex Sancerre blanc, from just over one hectare.
The Cotat family purchased its parcel in the vineyard of Les Culs de Beaujeu (0.9 hectares) just after the Second World War. It was François Cotat’s great-grandfather who planted it. Facing northwest, this is a cooler site which results in a wine with more stoned-fruit freshness.
The hill-side vineyard of La Grande Côte faces south with soils rich in chalk. This translates into wines that are linear, precise and layered. If you can get your hands on some of this wine, it is well worth it. Here too, Cotat has just 0.9 hectares.
All grapes are picked by hand come harvest time, and often later than anyone else. With Cotat being one of the last to pick his fruit from these top sites, it means high degrees of ripeness. Fermentations are wild and there is no settling nor does he filter his wines.
From the renegade of Sancerre, the wines may not be classic, but they are legendary and deserve a place in your cellar.
François Cotat 2020 mixed case
François Cotat|Sancerre Caillottes|2020|x 2 bottles|94 pts. Vinous
”…Open, seductive and textural, it offers delightful floral characters and ripe fruit.”
François Cotat|Sancerre Les Monts Damnés|2020|x 2 bottles
No rating available.
François Cotat|Sancerre Culs de Beaujeu|2020|x 1 bottle
No rating available.
François Cotat|Sancerre La Grande Côte|2020|x 1 bottle|94 pts. Vinous
”…a fine wine with a piercing nose of floral and flint….delectable texture and sinew…”