Domaine de la Cotelleraie – a pretty domaine just outside the centre of St Nicholas de Bourgueil. In the heart of Cabernet Franc country, the vineyards of St Nicolas are more often than not seen as a lighter option than Bougueil. In fact the truth of the matter is that the vineyards of both these appellations cross over at the limits so one can find vineyards within the Bourgueil appellation close to the river on the sandy soils and likewise, one can find vineyards in the St Nicolas de Bougueil appellation higher up on the slopes where there is more clay in the soil and therefore more structure in the wines.
We visited Gerald Vallée at Domaine de la Cotelleraie with Jimmy Smith who runs the West London Wine School. Jimmy is a fan of the Loire and we take pleasure in swapping bottles and introducing each other to wines we have each discovered.
27 hectares are cultivated organically over 4 different soil types and this is reflected in the style of the wines. 2012 was a difficult year for reds here in the Loire – endless rain and a lack of sunshine made it difficult to push Cabernet Franc to full ripeness but Gerald seems to have coaxed something very elegant and with a degree of concentration we have not found elsewhere. He puts this down to severely restricting yields and fastidious work in the vineyard.
Favourite wines of the tasting were the Cuvée Domaine 2012 which has lovely ripe fruit on the nose, a savoury note, light but integrated tannins and a nice freshness on the finish. It has much more concentration on the palate than many 2012’s we’ve tasted (7,20€ cellar door).
Overall favourite for all of us was the Vau Jaumier 2011 which is from a specific parcel on a hillside around 2.5km from the domaine. It has really lovely sweet fruit on the palate, a smokey stone fruit element, lovely rich tannins that are soft and elegant and a wonderful freshness that is often missing on the 2011’s. Gerald says this freshness and lively acidity comes directly from the parcel (16,00€ cellar door).