To place François Cotat in Sancerre is geographically accurate but unhelpful. The vines he inherited from his father, Paul, lie on the chalky, mineral slopes of the lugubriously named Monts Damnés in the village of Chavignol, deep in the central vineyards of the Loire.
Here the neo-Chablisien soil yields unique-tasting, complex, long-lasting sauvignons, not remotely redolent of the gooseberries or pear-drops more associated with the region.
Now and again, they are considered too ‘atypical’ even to be labelled as Sancerre. Nevertheless these are among the Loire’s hottest cellaring prospects.
Minimal intervention is the mantra in this tiny, unglamorous cellar. The wines are fermented and matured in old oak tonneaux, and neither cold-settled, fined nor filtered before bottling, which is done according to the phases of the moon.
The wines crave oxygen, so don’t be afraid to decant, even well in advance, and try to keep a little back to sample over subsequent days for a taste of future potential.