Domaine du Nozay

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Country of Origin: France
Location: Sainte-Gemme-en-Sancerrois, Sancerre
People: Cyril de Benoist, Owner & Winemaker
Viticulture: Certified Biodynamic

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Domaine du Nozay 2017 Sancerre AOC Login In Stock

The United States seems to possess an unquenchable thirst for Sancerre. A clean, fresh wine with plenty of character; a lovely and easy-to-pronounce name; a grape variety everybody knows; what’s not to like?

Unfortunately, much like Provençal rosé, the lion’s share of Sancerre is produced from chemically farmed vineyards stretched to their maximum yield capacity, with fermentations prodded along by bulletproof commercial yeast strains, and bottling occurring at the earliest possible moment to ensure "market readiness" for the spring/summer selling season.

Enter Domaine du Nozay.

Sancerre’s sprawl encompasses nearly 3,000 hectares of vines, but the traditional heart of the appellation is a central core flanked by the towns of Sancerre, Bué, and Chavignol. In contrast, the fifteen-hectare Domaine du Nozay lies at the northernmost extreme of the appellation—a contiguous and steep bowl of vineyards just outside the town of Sainte-Gemme-en-Sancerrois. Back in 1971, the ambitious Philippe de Benoist purchased the stunning 17th century Chateau du Nozay and began planting vines around the property, and today his son Cyril runs the operation with boundless enthusiasm and effusive intelligence. In fact, Cyril is a nephew of the legendary Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée Conti (his mother Marie-Helène is Aubert’s sister), so perhaps that visionary spirit runs in his bloodstream.

In an appellation in which it is so easy—and, perhaps, tempting—to produce wine with a minimum of effort and rely on its famous name to sell it, Cyril’s restless pursuit of his terroir’s deepest possible expression is admirable. The entire property is farmed organically, and Cyril is converting gradually to biodynamics (with certification in place for 2018); employs only spontaneous fermentations; and the wines are not rushed into bottle, instead spending much of those warm spring and summer "selling months" being nourished by their fine lees.

In terms of terroir, the micro-climate of Sainte-Gemme is a far cry from Bué and Chavignol. Whereas the latter two villages tend to produce Sancerre of ample fruit, clear varietal typicity, and intense concentration, Sainte-Gemme’s wines are a bit more feistily mineral-driven, a bit more marked by earth—it is perhaps no accident that Sainte-Gemme is the closest village to Chablis in terms of physical proximity. Domaine du Nozay’s wines show clear Sauvignon Blanc character, certainly, but a compelling underlay of chalk dust and fresh soil provide a fascinating contrast to the more regally poised and classically Sancerre offerings of Lucien Crochet.

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