Pierre Cotton, an exciting young winegrower in Brouilly, Beaujolais

Pierre Cotton’s family domaine is perched next door to the vineyards heading up the slope of Mont Brouilly. He’s one of the talented next generation of winegrowers in the region, and came to winemaking at the family domaine after a spell as a motorcycle mechanic and then two years working in the Loire.

He began in 2014 with a hectare of the family’s Côte de Brouilly vineyards, and then added another couple of hectares of Brouilly. He purchased 0.8 hectares of Regnié and another of Beaujolais in 2016. In 2017 his father stopped, and Pierre is now in charge of the whole family domaine, with 3 ha in Brouilly and 5 ha in Côte de Brouilly. It will be exciting to see what he does with these vineyards.

Farming is organic: the soil is worked using old over-row tractors that date back to the 1960s. We look at the vineyards: the slopes heading up the mont have blue diorite stones in them. Heading down further, past the road, he points out that the soils change and the sites are much sunnier. Terroir is everything here.

Winemaking is natural. It’s 100% carbonic in concrete tanks, starting at 10 C and only rising to 17 C, and then he goes to big barrels after fermentation. These large, old foudres are located in the cellars. In the large barrels at low temperatures he says that the wines keep changing day by day. ‘Gamay moves all the time, not like Pinot,’ says Cotton. They are often a bit reduced. ‘In big barrels we always have reduction, but it is better for us.’

Every cuvée is made the same way, with no added sulfites, so it’s just the soil that is different: this is what causes the wines to taste different. We taste in the cellar from the foudres, then do some tasting from bottle.

First, a white that has had 7 days carbonic maceration. It’s Beaujolais blanc from limestone soils, and hasn’t yet seen sulfites. Linear and quite mineral with some oxidative notes. Almonds, nuts, white peach. Detailed and complex: this is a proper wine made in an oxidative style.

Pierre Cotton Regnié 2017
From large foudre. This comes from a small parcel of yellow granite. Supple and fine and very elegant, with hints of spice, herbs and pepper. Light, supple and fine with lovely balance. Some slight funky hints but it’s really nice. Reductive. 91-93/100

Pierre Cotton Brouilly 2017
From pink granite soils. Very fresh with some raspberry and cherry with a nice red fruit focus. A bit of reduction here. Nicely spicy with freshness and elegance, and a bit of bite. 92-94/100

Pierre Cotton Côte de Brouilly 2017
From blue stones. South-facing slope, old vines. Supple and finely spice with nice detail and sweet, elegant black cherry and blackberry fruit. Hints of meat and spice, with good grip and a bright raspberry edge. Vital. 92-94/100

Pierre Cotton Côtes de Brouilly Les Grilles 2017
From yellow stones, which are a blend of the pink granite and blue stones. This is a warm site. Warm, dense, rich and spicy with a bit of lift. Lively acidity on the palate which is warm and rich with some meat and cheese savouriness. Structured and powerful on the finish. 91-93/100

Bottled wines

Pierre Cotton Côte de Brouilly 2014
This was the debut wine, and it has no added sulfites. Tightly focused, fresh and spicy with a forward raspberry and cherry fruit nose. A little bit reductive. The palate is concentrated and fresh with linear red cherry fruit and good acidity. There’s a sort of wild spiciness here and good structre, with a vital finish. Lovely wine. 93/100

Pierre Cotton Côte de Brouilly 2015
Fresh, vivid, complex and expressive with lovely open raspberry and red cherry fruit. Has a bit of lushness to the fruit on the mid-palate. A sappy fresh finish with nice structure as well as sweet lush fruit. Really interesting with hints of blackcurrant and olive. 92/100

Pierre Cotton Côte de Brouilly 2016
Lovely raspberry and cherry aromatics. So supple and fresh with lovely purity and focus, and nice grainy structure sitting under the supple, elegant fruit. Bright, juicy and very fresh with a nice presence to the palate. Pretty, complex and detailed. 94/100

Pierre Cotton Côte de Brouille ‘Les Grilles’ 2016
Expressive, vital nose of raspberries, red cherries and some floral notes. The palate is supple and fresh with nice raspberries to the fore. Quite grainy and structured with nice grip. Structured and taut. 93/100

Pierre Cotton Regnié 2016
First wine from his 0.8 hectares here, on yellow granite soils. Spicy and tight and mineral with some reductive notes. Grainy with grippy red fruits. Very stony and bright with some fresh mineral notes. Such a different wine. 93/100

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1 comment to Pierre Cotton, an exciting young winegrower in Brouilly, Beaujolais

  • Pat Neville

    ‘Every cuvée is made the same way, with no added sulfites, so it’s just the soil that is different: this is what causes the wines to taste different’.

    How often does this nonsense need to be challenged? I think wines from nine different sites were tasted, ie nine different micro climates, nine different picking dates, maybe even different plant material, root stocks, vine age. And vignerons always adjust practices in the cellar based on dubious ‘received wisdom’ no matter what they tell journalists. And in the cellar who knows what population of yeast claimed the sugar in each vat, what bacteria the malos, what the effect of old foudres on the evolution of a wine, what effect even their placement in the cellar. Soil is just one variable in the making of wine. This needs to be restated again and again.

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