26 November 2015

n.d.p. in beaujolais: patrick "jo" cotton, saint-lager

As we toured Brouilly vigneron Patrick Cotton's gently tumescent, unsloped vineyards in Saint-Lager, I remarked that one parcel seemed to be missing a great deal of vines. The vines didn't look that old, either.

Cotton, who goes by the inexplicable nickname of "Jo," confirmed they weren't exceptionally old vines. His father had planted them not long before he retired. The fungal disease esca had subsequently killed some of the vines. But Cotton, like his father before him, doesn't own his vines. He works under métayage, a system wherein rent is paid to a vineyard's owner in the form of a percentage of the year's wine. Under métayage, Cotton explained, the vineyard owner is meant to cover costs of replanting... Here he trailed off, for reasons that became clear later.

Cotton is the brother of Guy Gotton, of Côte de Brouilly's Domaine Sanvers et Cotton, and the uncle of Guy's winemaker son Pierre. Patrick came to winemaking somewhat later in life than those two, following a visit, in 1985, to an amusingly opinionated acupuncturist.

02 November 2015

n.d.p. in beaujolais: pierre cotton, odenas

I can think of few better indicators of the stratospheric potential of cru Beaujolais terroir than the nascent career of young Odenas winemaker Pierre Cotton. He returned from his studies to the famile estate, Domaine Sanvers et Cotton, in 2012, and commercialised his first wine under his own name in 2014: an unsulfured unfiltered Côte de Brouilly he dubbed "100% Cotton."

I first tasted it over lunch at Le Relais des Caveaux in Villié-Morgon just before harvest began. I could only shake my head in wonder. The wine is a screaming success, an instant benchmark for the appellation - impeccably balanced, but retaining a certain voluptuousness, with a mineral foundation and iris notes amid its finely-etched dark-cherry fruit. How on earth ?

I met Cotton for the first time a few days later, when he passed by the Métras cuvage around apéro hour. His bearishness and gnarly white and blue motorcycle belie his soft-spoken, modest demeanor - the sort of quite-tall fellow whose height one tends to underestimate. He gives little outward indication of being one of the region's most promising young natural vignerons.