2004 Pascal Cotat, Sancerre “Les Monts Damnés” Loire Valley, France.
One of the most underrated treats in the wine world is finely aged Sauvignon Blanc, like this one from Sancerre legend Pascal Cotat, that comes from one of the top hillside crus in Sancerre and hand crafted to age, those that have had old Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume, fellow top gun Sancerre artist Boulay and or Italians like Jermann and one of my all time favorites, Quarz by Cantina Terlano in the Alto Adige will understand just how good Sauvignon Blanc can be when made right and cellared well at around 20 years old. This 2004 was remarkably fresh, even feeling zesty at 17 plus years old, but with complex secondary evolution adding dimension and tertiary elements to this gorgeous example sounded from 45 plus year old vines, in what maybe the best vineyard site in the region, above the village of Chavignol, set on classic ancient chalky and fossilized limestone, often described as the most singular Sauvignon Blanc and notably these vines are on very steep slopes,Chavignol’s finest with these “terres blanches” soils being very much like those of Chablis with a thin layer of clay. This wine might be long in the tooth, but it showed extremely well against some tough competition and with more youthful fruit density, proving maturity and grace are still appreciated. This wine shows terroir, wears its age proudly and its pedigree is clearly on display here, it was superb with a soft goat brie cheese, holding up even after an hour or so, pure class.
There are a of Cotats in the region, but the two best vignerons are the brothers Francois, who makes his own wines from the older family cellars, and Pascal, who has a cult like following with older vines and the new cellars. In the previous generation their father and uncle ran separate domaines, but made the wines in single lots and just labeled them under their own label, this practice went on from 1947 to the 1990s before the French government decided that was legal and the wines had to be made separately for each domaine name, which how it is done today. This 2004, by Pascal, is light on its feet and vigorous for its age with nice energy behind the more mature profile with orangey citrus, dried peach, paraffin/honeycomb, oyster shell, wet flint, morel and cedar all flowing smoothly in the mouth and lingering with hint of leesy nuttiness. The single cru wines, this one, the Les Mont Damnés and La Grand Cote are native yeast barrel fermented and raised in large very old demi-muids with a little bit sometimes aged in neutral smaller French oak barrels, depending on the vintage and cellar needs. Cotat wines are unique, often not interesting when young, so if you buy one of the cru wines, be patient, there will be rewards for waiting. I’ll be getting a 2019, that is just out now, and pop it in the cellar with tag that reads don’t open until 2028. Thanks to my friend Alex Lallos and studied wine professional for sharing this bottle, that he had hidden away, with a few of us studying Loire varietals, it was a valued look at well aged Sancerre from a great vineyard.
($59 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive