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Clos Roche Blanche Cuvée Côt 2007

After the joys of aged Sauternes, more youthful sparkling Chenin Blanc and a pseudo-super-Tuscan over the past few weeks, this week it is back to the Loire again, and a wine in a fascinating style. Clos Roche Blanche will, to many Winedoctor readers I expect, need absolutely no introduction. That isn't because of my work, but predominantly I think the work of the late Joe Dressner, a much-loved New York wine merchant who died a little over a year ago. This domaine, the home of Catherine Roussel and Didier Barrouillet, was one that Dressner championed for many years.

As a result the wines, classic Cher Valley fare featuring Sauvignon Blanc and the usual mix of red varieties including Gamay and Cabernet Franc, among others, have achieved something of a cult following in the USA. Sadly this means they are quite difficult to obtain elsewhere, including the UK, and this is the prime reason I don't drink them that often (having said that, a quick look on wine-searcher.com - links at the bottom of the page - reveals limited availability of one or two cuvées).

Clos Roche Blanche Cuvée Côt 2007

My current stash of bottles came from François Chidaine's shop Le Cave de L'Insolite in Montlouis, purchased about two years ago I think; unfortunately, I have to report that they included a number of disappointments. I picked up a few bottles of the two Sauvignon Blanc cuvées Number 2 and Number 5, both from the 2006 vintage and so about three years old when I bought them, only to discover on removing the capsule months later that they were bottled under synthetic cork. Unsurprisingly, on tasting, it was clear that they had fallen prey to rampant oxidation; this sort of closure just doesn't do the job for this length of time. A year or two is fine, but any longer and the oxygen ingress will kill the wine. Happily, however, the little stock of 2007 Cuvée Côt I purchased was bottled under natural cork, and at five years of age the wine is singing.

Côt was once described to me as the Loire's "secret weapon" by a Loire-knowledgeable Master of Wine, and I have certainly seen some promise in one or two of the examples I have tasted over the years. The 2007 Cuvée Côt from Clos Roche Blanche further adds to this experience. In the glass it has a dark hue; although not a densely coloured wine, it is quite concentrated at its core, with a paler rim. The nose shows a very typical Côt perfume, with crystalline cranberry and redcurrant fruits overlaid with notes of rose petals, violets, and chalky potpourri. The fruit character is mirrored on the palate which is lean, bright and acidic, with plenty of sappy-sour freshness at the start, the fruit similarly crisp and bright although with some darker tones here, more reminiscent of cherry skin, barely-ripe blackberry and plum stone. This is a wine with plenty of bite and sour grip to it, lifting and carrying along that very appealing perfume. Although my first impressions were somewhat reserved, in the end I decided I really like this, especially returning to it the next day when the perfume was a little less crisply dominant on the palate. Aromatically it says something of Touraine and the Cher Valley I think; there is a certain fresh and perfumed style here, probably related to the variety married to the cool climate, that can be found in the wines of a number of good top Cher Valley domaines. 16.5/20 (17/12/12)

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