Mas Coutelou "Quoi Qu'il En Goutte" NV
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Direct Press Selection | June 2022
[PRESS 4 MIX • PRESS 4 RED]
Jeff Coutelou was one of the first to be certified organic in France — back in 1987! His neighbors were not accepting of his methods. When he planted hedges to help block their chemical sprays from coming into his vines, they burned them down. Twice. Today he continues to take on work that many others do not have the patience or commitment for, like restoring obscure, nearly forgotten varieties to combat the effects of global warming; and planting thousands of olive, almond, fig, and fruit trees for future generations.
According to him, the decision to work without sulfur is to fully realize “the accomplishment of the work which has been done in the vineyards, to avoid additives in order to let the grape express itself. The use of S02 is nonexistent, even at bottling, in order to preserve the authenticity of our cuvées. Bottling happens, according to the lunar calendar, in order for the wines we make be respected as much as possible from the vineyard to the glass.”
The “Quoi Qu'il En Goutte” is a wine that stirs up memories of the natural wines that first captured my heart. It’s got some funky barnyard aromas, black cherry notes, peppery texture and a little spritz. Carignan and Syrah, it’s from two vintages. The first vintage, 2019, got stuck, so some juice from 2020 was added to get the fermentation going again. It was then bottled intentionally with some sugar, but it fermented dry in the bottle — hence the spritz. So it’s kind of like a secret Pet Nat? The bubbles are pretty mild, and will go away if you shake the bottle.
This is a great example of making the best of the situation without adding anything. The results are not typical but they are delicious and soulful. The name means “whatever it takes,” a take on Macron’s phrase "quoi qu'il en coute" or “whatever the cost” regarding bailing out the French economy at the start of Covid-19. Jeff is nothing if not humble about his years of groundbreaking viticulture. “Wine is a beverage which brings dialog and conviviality,” he says. “Some grapes; some work and some love, that is our philosophy.” Cheers to that. Jonathan Kemp