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Mathieu Coste Tete de Chats


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Vintage: 2014
Region: Loire Valley, France
Viticulture: Organic
Grape varieties: 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Gamay

Mathieu Coste Tete de Chats is an organic blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay. Spicy, earthy, and silky. Aged for three years before release.

Movie: Pet Semetary

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From the winery:

The organic Coste estate is made up of 5.5 hectares of forty-year-old vines planted on a single south-facing slope in the town of Saint-Père: 95% of vines planted in red, Pinot Noir and Gamay grape varieties, two-thirds of Gamay and a third of Pinot. The remaining 5% is made from Sauvignon Blanc.

For fans of calculations, 95% of 2/3 on 5.5 hectares:

i.e. 0.95 × (2 ÷ 3) × 5.5 ≈ 3.5 hectares of Gamay.

Since the estate has already been organic for many years, from 1982 onwards, this suited my philosophy of developing natural wines perfectly. In the Coteaux du Giennois, Sancerre and Pouilly region, only a small dozen winegrowers can claim to be organic, which is very low.

In terms of marketing, we had to understand how the distribution circuit for a 100% organic wine aged on 5.5 hectares worked. It quickly occurred to me that we had to sell the production of 20,000 bottles per year in Paris, only 1h30 from the estate to make the estate profitable. Working alone, and to preserve the quality of the wine I produce, I do not intend to expand the estate. You should know that on the estate, there are 7,000 plants per hectare. For comparison, this corresponds to 10 hectares in the South planted at 4,000 vines per hectare, for quality wines of course.

So a big workload at the marketing level, the organic network being quite complex, contrary in my opinion to the organic ethics that I claim.

The originality of the estate: being alone on 5.5 hectares, doing both vines, work in the cellar, and trade, which represents a heavy workload. The estate has been organic for 30 years, which is unique, and above all, it is carried out reasonably. We are on vines that are 30 to 40 years old with very reasonable and simple yields. Plowing the soil in winter: mounding, starting in spring on clay-limestone soils that you should not hesitate to work deeply. So you have to stir up the earth.

The soil is considered as a matrix, that is to say, that it is an organism that will nourish the plant. By letting the grass grow moderately, and depending on the soil condition of the plots, I bury this grass which will degrade to give organic matter which is digested by the soil.

The microfauna and the micro-flora digest this herb by restoring the minerals essential for the growth of the vine. There is therefore no external fertilizer input. The system is not closed, the grass is a CO 2 sensor, the plant then takes the opportunity to grow. Organic viticulture is nothing other than taking advantage of the major cycles of matter at the energy level for the different stages of growth of the plant.

The vines are pruned in goblets, a non-productive size, the size of excellence of Gamay. It is necessary, throughout the year, to protect the plant against diseases. In the region, it is mainly mildew, treated with copper-based specialties (Bordeaux mixture). For powdery mildew, which is rarer, we treat with wettable sulfur, not to be confused with sulfur which keeps the wine in the tank. The objective is moderate yields, good maturity measured by the sugar concentration in the grapes, and the quality of the tannins contained in the skin of the grapes, seeds, and stems. This phenolic maturity is interesting for making wines for laying down. At Domaine Coste, the wines can be kept for between 10 and 15 years.

This naturalness in the vineyard must be found in the bottle. The treatment of the grape must therefore also be natural. The harvest is done by hand, the grapes are found in cement vats, a material capable of keeping both hot and cold for a long time. During the harvest, there is no thermal regulation, fermentation in stages takes place naturally.

Burgundian vinification: the grapes are in whole bunches, and “punching down” and “pumping over” is done. The reassembly consists of extracting juice from the bottom of the tank to put it back into the tank from the top, causing oxygenation of the indigenous yeasts while they are working. So-called aerobic fermentation. Pigeage involves putting back in contact with the solid matter accumulated at the top of the tank due to the production of CO 2 from the yeasts during fermentation. We have the constitution of a “cap” that must be broken regularly to bring solid and liquid materials into contact, allowing good extraction of the phenolic materials.

The weekly sampling of a few grape seeds during ripening makes it possible to estimate the quality of the phenols. As they ripen, the seeds will change from an astringent and grassy taste to a nutty and oaky taste and will become much crunchier.

Today, the experience of several vintages and the heritage of Alain Paulat shows that there is a week ahead in terms of maturity compared to the neighbors, I am the first to harvest. A ripe harvest is a harvest that is just beginning to rot. We are at the maximum of maturity. The fruit is destined to rot because it is the seed’s organ of dissemination. The best fruit is obtained when the plant wants to leave. The plant is a living organism with a fixed life, it must perceive its environment in order to reproduce. The plant, in its functioning, must produce the best fruit for it to “pull itself”.