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Claude Courtois’s 2009 Quartz

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Vin de France 2009, Quartz, Domaine Claude Courtois/Les Cailloux du Paradis ($28.00, 12 bottles/case, La QV)

Thought this was a second shipment of the 2008, which I so enjoyed last June, but it turns out to be the 2009, which I enjoyed even more. Popular with the province’s new-wave bistros and wine bars, this will sell out quickly, especially as it’s about 10% cheaper than the 2008.

100% Sauvignon Blanc. 12.2% ABV.

Nose of minerals and rain. Hints of citrus zest (more lime than lemon) and herby hay but no extroverted grassiness, boxwood or cat pee.

Very dry. Initial fruit quickly joined by a crystalline, citrusy sourness and a faint quinine-like bitterness. Brightly, not screechingly acidic. Long, clean, minerally finish. Subtle, pure, transparent: a watercolour, not an oil painting

So refreshing and tonic, like water from a mountain spring. What Chablis would be if it were made from Sauvignon Blanc.

Perfect with oysters Rockefeller. Almost as good with pan-seared scallops drizzled with a Meyer lemon and white wine reduction.

• • •

Domaine Claude Courtois/Les Cailloux du Paradis is in Sologne, a Loire Valley district located just south of Touraine. Courtois likes to describe himself as a winemaking peasant with a deep respect for nature. That means old-fashioned farming, with no chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides, and using atypical winemaking techniques designed to bring out the essence of the terroir. Currently 13 ha (32 acres) in size, the estate is planted mainly with Gamay (for the Nacarat cuvée); Cabernet Franc, Cot and Cabernet Sauvignon (Racines cuvée); Sauvignon Blanc (Quartz and Plume d’ange cuvées) and Pineau (Alkimya cuvée). He has got into trouble with local authorities for planting Syrah (not to mention the rumoured Barbera, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, etc.), even though historical records show that it was part of the region’s grape mix prior to the phylloxera crisis.

Wine Terroirs profile
French Facebook page run by fans (Courtois is said to be, well, if not exactly a Luddite, someone who has little time for modern technology)
The estate’s way out-of-date website
Some excellent photos of Courtois and his estate and of Olivier Cousin

Written by carswell

February 20, 2011 at 11:07

One Response

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  1. […] Claude Courtois ($34.50, La QV, 6 bottles/case) For background on the estate and winemaker, see my note for the 2009 Quartz. Sauvignon Blanc from organically farmed (though uncertified as such) vines, […]

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