History of Domaine Pascal Cotat
Located in the Loire Valley’s Central Vineyards, the Cotats have made their home in the Sancerre AOC. Beginning with brothers Paul and Francis, the Cotats have harvested both Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from the slopes of Les Monts Damnes in Chavignol since the end of World War II. The brothers worked together to harvest their fruit, and produced the same wine under two labels, Francis Cotat and Paul Cotat. Eventually, in the early 1990s, the French government decided that it was illegal for two “independent growers” to bottle the same wine in a shared cellar under two distinct labels. This is when Paul and Francis decided to retire and gave their vineyards and cellar to their sons Francois and Pascal.
In accordance to the newly created French laws, Paul’s son, Francois, and Francis’ son, Pascal, separated their production and vineyard holdings. Now two wineries with the Cotat name, Francois continues to make wine in the family cellar in Chavignol, while Pascal has purchased his own cellar and makes wine in Sancerre.
Vineyards and Viticulture
Chavignol, located in the western portion of the Sancerre appellation, produces wines of distinct expression. The unique type of soil found here is called “terres blanches”, a chalky plateau with clay and limestone similar to the Kimmeridgian soils of Chablis, offering the wines a distinct and intense minerality. Pascal Cotat owns small plots in two of the most prestigious vineyards in Chavignol, perched on steep hillsides within the Sancerre AOC, Les Monts Damnes vineyard and the Grande Cote vineyard.
Pascal has ownership of 1.5 hectare of 35 year old Sauvignon Blanc vines in the “Les Monts Damnes” lieu-dit, the name roughly translating to “the damned mountain”, mirroring the incredibly difficult harvest on the dangerously steep slopes. The wines bottled under this designation are sourced from one of the best, highest parcels on the north-facing slope, containing the Kimmeridgian limestone soils that impart a truly distinct terroir in the wines; this could very well be the Sancerre equivalent of a Grand Cru.
Where limestone dominates Les Monts Damnes, clay dominates the soil in Pascal’s 1 hectare vineyard in La Grande Cote. This sixty year old vineyard producing Sauvignon Blanc, set on a steep north facing slope, is entirely owned by the Cotat family; Pascal’s cousin Francois is the only other vigneron here, and the name has been registered as a trademark.
With these two distinct sites on two distinct soil types, Pascal is able to create wines that express the specific terroir and stand out among other winemakers in this appellation. Focused on natural winemaking, Pascal incorporates organic and biodynamic principles, treating his vines with natural pesticides, using indigenous yeasts for fermentation, and following the lunar cycle for racking. Harvest is gentle and slow, as both Cotats harvest a week later than every other winery in the region, imparting a distinct complexity in the wine that other wines from the region are lacking.
A pioneer of single-vineyard bottlings in Sancerre, Pascal vinifies grapes from each vineyard plot separately; each bottling has its own unique personality. Wines are barrel fermented in older demi-muids (600-liter oak barrels) and aged in larger casks. All wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. These techniques impart a distinct character to Cotat’s Sauvignon Blancs: a rich, textured mouthful, an intensely flavorful palate with a lush concentration of fruit, and a laser-focused minerality.