Few domaines relevant to the Sancerre appellation evoke emotions like those belonging to the cousins, François Cotat and Pascal Cotat. And this is perhaps rather surprising, as few domaines turn out wines so atypical of the traditional view of what it means for a wine to be from Sancerre. I am sure we all have out buzz-words for the appellation, in part probably based on the varietal and often methoxypyrazine-rich character of Sauvignon Blanc, perhaps with a few pungent thiol-related aromas thrown in for good measure, in part an acknowledgement that good examples of Sancerre may show a more minerally side as well. But neither Pascal Cotat, nor his cousin François for that matter, make wine in this style. Here we have curious wines, rich and broad, concentrated and warm, not always entirely dry but often very convincing. These wines are certainly distinctive, a counter-culture view of Sancerre, the rebellious nature of the two men coming through loud and clear not just in the style of the wine but also in the fact that they on occasion end up classified as Vin de Table, having been refused the agrément for the Sancerre appellation. It is, with this in mind, perhaps not surprising that they have evoked such a cult following.
I have already explored the story of the Cotat cousins in my François Cotat profile; the two domaines were effectively one under the rule of Paul and Francis (the generation that preceded François and Pascal). As a consequence, the story below matches that of François Cotat almost word for word. If you are already familiar with my profile of François, skip down a few paragraphs to Pascal’s Garage to pick up the story there.
The story of the domaine really starts with a relative of the Cotat family named Ferdinand Thomas, who seems to have been responsible for establishing the domaine in the 1920s, having returned home after the Great War. At this time the vineyards were still recovering from phylloxera, and Sancerre was not yet the household name it is today. I suspect he was able to pick up a few vineyards for a song, and hopefully he soon settled down to the peaceful civilian life of a vigneron.