Domaine du Petit Coteau

Domaine Petit Coteau, Vouvray

who? what? when? where? why? how?

who grows the grapes at Domaine du Petit Coteau? who makes the wines at Domaine du Petit Coteau?

The Feray family purchased Domaine du Petit Coteau in 2005.  Mr. Feray, returned to live among the vines in his native Vouvray in 1994 at 60 years old after a succesful career as a professor and a surgeon.  He knew little of viticulture at the time, but was drawn back to his roots.  In addition to what he learned through independent study, Mr. Ferray built a team to help him along his path, hiring Jérôme Loisy as winemaker and Tony Brulin to take care of the vineyard.  Both are still with the family today.  Mr. Feray’s son Gilles joined the estate full time in 2003.
Messieurs Feray

what wines do they make at Domaine du Petit Coteau?

Chenin Blanc is the one and only grape grown at Domaine de Petit Coteau, which is not a concern when your only grape is perhaps the most versatile in the world.  Thanks to Chenin’s high natural acidity and its ability to carry some sugar without tasting flabby and round, it is perfect for all sorts of white wines.

From Petit Coteau, we purchase their Vouvray Sec, a dry wine called “Les Grenouilles” and their Méthode Traditionelle Sparkling wine.  The Sec is bright, crisp, and reminiscent of lime and lemon juice on the rocks, and we don’t mean ice.  The minerality is clear both in the flavors and texture of the wine which is a wonderful match for oysters and sushi.

Their bubbles, made by hand in the style of finer Champagne, is a surprise at the price. It’s one of the more layered and interesting sparkling wines we’ve tasted for roughly $20 on the shelf. It is the house specialty and represents about 75% of their entire production.

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when did Domaine du Petit Coteau start? when might you open a bottle?

Mr. Feray transformed an existing estate and converted all the farming to organics in 2005.  Born in Vouvray, he is steeped in the wines and traditions of the region, but came to life as a vineyard owner only after a successful career as a surgeon and teacher.

The Vouvray Sec seems custom built for oysters, though we have some internal disagreement as to whether the best pairs are the briny, bright cold water bivalves from northern waters, or their larger, richer, fattier cousins.  In either case, the lemon / lime acidity of “Les Grenouilles” cuts through the oyster’s weight and sparks a fun debate.  As a date for BYOB Sushi, it’s quite attractive too.

petit coteau enherbée
Petit Coteau’s Sparkling Vouvray can go almost anywhere a Blanc de Blancs Champagne might be opened. It’s crisp and lean with wonderful layers of flavors that open slowly as the bubbles dissipate. Seared Scallops with Cream, Salmon Burgers, Pork tenderloin, and Fried Chicken are all worth considering.

where is Domaine du Petit Coteau?

Domaine du Petit Coteau is situated in the village of Vernou; one of the 7 villages of the Vouvray appellation. Vernou is located 12km east of Tours on the north side of the Loire River. The vineyard, composed of multiple plots on top of a hill which slopes down to the Loire, providing excellent sun and all the benefits of the airflow that is generated by the river, much like at Weinguts Huff and Schwibinger on the river Rhine in Germany.  This air off the river cools the grapes on hot days, warms them when it’s cold, and helps dry them out after rains, which is a key to their health as Petit Coteau uses no chemical pesticides to fight against mildew and rot.  The soil is mainly  limestone (chalk) for the subsoil with clay in some plots and flint in others.
Chinon and Vouvray

why is Domaine du Petit Coteau a Candid Wine? why might you want a taste

We fell in love with their Sparkling wine first.  It is so impressive at the price that we almost felt we had to have it in our portfolio.  Sparkling wine is hard to make well and is so labor intensive that we rarely come across bottles, especially those made in the same way as Champagne, that are of any interest at $20 or less on the shelf.  This one is a lovely addition to our Crémants from Burgundy, Alsace, and of course, Muscadet.

We’d suggest tasting purely to enjoy the quality of the wines, but it may also be useful for buyers seeking organically grown, vegan sparkling wines that people really want to drink at weddings, by the glass at restaurants, and for special occasions, like book club and Wednesday night dinner.

how is the wine made at Domaine du Petit Coteau?

All the Chenin Blanc at Domaine du Petit Coteau is estate grown, organic, and hand harvested from 15.5Ha, or 35 or so acres of vines.

The Sec is their driest wine and it has a touch of residual sugar that is all but masked by the natural acidity of the Chenin.  The wine is not allowed to go through malolactic fermentation. The Sparkling wine is made in the traditional method (same as for the champagne) with a first fermentation in stainless steel vat and a second fermentation in bottle. It ages on average 18 months on the lees after the second fermentation. By law it has to be minimum of 12 months. The Dosage is at 13g/l.  Domaine du Petit Coteau respects the rules of the organic viticulture.

Chai Vinification 2011
They use no synthetic products in the vineyard. The soil is reguarly tilled and grass is allowed to grow in competition with the vines, concentrating the flavors of the grapes. Natural yeasts ferment the grapes and all the wines are vegan.