Noëlla Morantin Côt à Côt 2017

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Touraine, Loire, France
Fermented with native yeasts, unfiltered & unfined, minimal additional sulphites

Since starting to make wine in 2001, Noëlla has trained with and worked alongside some of the great names of the Loire. A couple of years with Agnès and René Mosse in Anjou led to her becoming the vineyard manager at Les Bois Lucas after becoming friends with Junko Ara, then onto renting parcels of the feted Clos Roche Blanche estate in Touraine from Catherine Roussel and Didier Barrouillet. She now makes wine with fruit from a mixture of owned and rented parcels at her beautiful cellar carved out of the hillside in Thésée; a testament to her hard work and determination over the last 18 years.

Noëlla chooses to work under the more general VDF denomination rather than AOC and her wines stand apart from the perceived notion of Touraine. “If it doesn’t smell like cat piss, you don’t get the appellation” she quips - but only half jokingly. She refers to the prevalence of industrial yeasts used in the area to enhance supposedly typical flavours in the wine. Noella ferments with native yeasts and seeks a longer maturation period in old barrels than is usual, meaning her wines are released much later than many other producers nearby. This patience is rewarded with sublime depth and texture in the wine; rich and fully-ripened Sauvignon Blanc, deep-fruited Cabernet Franc and velvet-soft Malbec.

Côt à Côt is 100% eponymous Malbec from vines of around 60 years old. The grapes are carefully added to the fibreglass vats to ferment in alternate layers of de-stemmed and whole bunch, almost like a millefeuille. This ensures measured levels of tannin and, along with the 12 months in old barrels, contributes to the overall velvet-like texture of this wine. Lots of dark forest fruits and deep notes of cacao. This wine can be a little reduced on opening, but given a little time to open up it is generous, rounded and stable.