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Domaine du Nozay, terres blanches de Sancerre

The Domaine du Nozay has its origins in the eponymous Château de Nozay, a picturesque 17th century Château in Saint Gemme en Sancerrois, in the north of the Sancerre wine-growing region in the eastern Centre-Loire. The soils here are characterised by fossilized limestone, known locally as terres blanches (= white soils).

Back in the 1970's, Marie-Hélène and Baron Philippe de Benoist had moved into the historic Château de Nozay. Only years earlier, Saint Gemme had been classified as the northernmost tip of the Sancerre AOC. The idea of growing vines around the historic château caught on with the Benoist family, thus they planted some of the first Sauvignon Blanc vines of the region.

This inspiration for viticulture surely did not come from just anywhere: Marie-Hélène's family (de Villaine) had been running the legendary cult winery Domaine de la Romaneé-Conti for decades and has, joined with partners Leroy, brought it to the top of the wine world. Marie-Hélène's and Philippe's sons Cyril and Pierre also learnt their craft there - not a bad start! Cyril has devoted himself entirely to the Domaine du Nozay, Pierre runs the top Aligoté domaine A. et P. de Villaine in Bouzeron.

Since 2011, the family's biodynamic conviction (reminder- DRC work biodynamically!) has also prevailed in the vineyards in Saint Gemme - 100% Demeter certification! This means vineyards are worked very gently, no herbicides, pesticides and what-not, the vines get everything they need from natural preparations and fertilisers, cow manure, herbal teas, et cetera! In the cellar, the emphasis is on finesse and clarity, ageing in terra cotta and stainless steel tanks, without the addition of yeasts or superfluous additives. In other words, full terroir power. Just the way we like it.

The wines:

Sancerre ‘La Maratre’

A ‘younger’ single vineyard of the Domaine, with vines just over 20 years old. Matured purely in stainless steel barrels. The resulting wine is super delicate, with precise acidity and clear varietal character. Fine fruit and floral hints dance around with a minerality typical of Sancerre.

Sancerre ‘La Plante Froide’

A parcel of limestone marl from the 80s. Matured in stainless steel, partly in terra cotta. ‘Fraîcheur et vivacité’ - Precisely how this ‘cool plant’ comes across, extremely austere and refined. Chablis comes to mind, salt, yeast, lots of grip, also somewhat more robust due to the terra cotta content in the ageing process.

Sancerre ‘Clos du Nozay’

Flagship of the domaine, the extremely chalky steep slope, Clos ‘Le Nozay’. 47-year-old vines, vinification only in terra cotta, for a minimal micro-oxi (similar to vinification in wood, but without its aromatic influence!) This gives the Clos du Nozay a particularly clear Sauvignon character, lots of gooseberry, lime, pear - paired with this barren, marly-chalky flavour and yeast playfulness, Sancerre, peaked!

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Attougui Essam
Attougui Essam
4 days ago

Very interesting information, worthy of recommendation. May it be a good season Head Soccer


This 'cool plant' comes off as quite geometry dash austere and polished. Chablis comes to mind: salt, yeast, plenty of grip, and somewhat more robust owing to the terra cotta component in the maturing process.

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