04 Pascal Cotat Sancerre "Monts Damnés" - Transcending Sauvignon Blanc

Posted by CrushWine

Transcending the Sauvignon Blanc Category
2004 Pascal Cotat Sancerre "Les Monts Damnés"
The Only Bottles Available in the World

"Very impressive as well as highly distinctive Sancerre."
- Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar

Cousins Pascal and François Cotat don't make Sancerre like you're used to.

And we love that. Theirs are transcendent Sauvignon Blancs, running in their own league without many real points of reference besides, well, themselves and fellow-great Edmond Vatan. Today we're featuring Pascal Cotat's 2004 Les Monts Damnés, which Raynolds (above) is absolutely right to call "very impressive" and "highly distinctive."

The pricing today fits in both those categories, too: $46.95 a bottle - which is not only the sole pricing in the entire U.S. and in the entire world, but it's also essentially the same as release price. 2009s, for reference, are going for $40-60 a pop.

On first glance, it might seem counterintuitive to be offering a seven-year-old Sancerre. But Pascal Cotat's Sancerres are, as mentioned above, counterintuitive themselves. With age, these become monuments; they beg to be cellared to show off all they're capable of - Sancerres with the weight and heft of Vouvray, with an extreme snap on the back end that pulls everything into focus. Today's 04 Les Monts Damnés should continue to shine for at least another five years with proper cellaring.

A few factors contribute to the unique and ageworthy nature of Cotat Sancerre. First is certainly the site. Les Monts Damnés - the "damned hills" - are so-named for their incredibly steep gradient. It's so steep that it's not only impossible to use machinery, but the Cotats have developed a special technique for their workers during harvest. They hand-pick from a seated position, proceeding down the slope via cushions strapped to their behinds, pushing their buckets along in front of them.

The steep slopes catch extra sunlight, helping the grapes ripen particularly well; this is especially relevant in a cool, wet vintage like 2004. Furthermore, Pascal Cotat is always among the last to harvest in Sancerre; he often begins picking a full week later than his peers in the region. The grapes, then, have remarkable ripeness that lends a definitive richness and exuberance to the wines - even a few extra layers of texture.

This is a luscious, mouthcoating Sancerre that's both deeper and broader on the palate than nearly any other Sauvignon Blanc coming out of France - even coming across, as Raynolds observes, like a late-harvest wine. And yet, the minerality and cooler-climate acidity of Sancerre always remain cornerstones.

The Kimmeridgian limestone so famous in Chablis is present here, too, helping this to absolutely flaunt its mineral expression. Finally, there's a distinctly linear drive and very focused, precise quality in the 2004, thanks to the year's cooler weather. As David Schildknecht says in his tasting note for the wine, "Luscious, honeyed citrus and quince finishing fruit is nicely complemented by chalky, saline residues in a long finish."

This is a fascinating, not to mention delicious demonstration of Sauvignon Blanc that's well worth exploring if you want to see another facet of what this grape is capable of in the hands of a quality-fastidious producer working with some of France's most unique terroir. The wine is utterly compelling on its own as well as perfect company to the likes of richer, more well-spiced and herbed poultry, fish and vegetable dishes.

We've got what are, as far as we can tell, possibly the last of these 04s to be available on the market, period... but there's obviously not a lot to go around. Please give us your maximum order, and we'll do our best.

To order, please email us at offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits

2004 Pascal Cotat Sancerre "Les Monts Damnés"