Andrew Guard

2010 Sancerre 'Cuveé Paul', François Cotat

Named after François father, Cuvée Paul is a very rare wine made from the richest barrel of Sancerre La Grande Côte, set aside as having the greatest potential for ageing. Made from very ripe grapes it shows sweetness and incredible power. In concert with the fine, stony freshness for which Sancerre is famed there is a wealth of fruit ranging from lively citrus to more tropical notes. Orange peel, lemon oil, pineapple and passion fruit all appear at intervals when left to develop in glass and these would be interesting enough themselves, but the wine is set apart by the undercurrent of exotic spice; cardamom and anise. A glimmer of residual sugar, which merely adds to the luxurious feel in the mouth, together with the poised backbone of bright acidity provides superb balance. A rarity for the cellar, this one will live for 50 years !

There are three things that define François Cotat’s wines. Firstly the superb Kimmeridgean terroir around the famed village of Chavignol and specifically it’s vertiginously steep vineyard, Les Monts Damnés.

Secondly, his vineyards are planted at a density of 8000 vines per hectare – higher than the more normal average of 6000 vines per hectare & with average yields of 45 hl/ha, far lower than Sancerre’s ‘rendement de base’ of 65 hl/ha.  

Thirdly, that he is often the last to harvest, sometimes a week later than his peers and this, combined with his meagre yields, provides sublime and incomparable quality.