Guide to the Loire regions

Saint-Pourçain

Grower Profiles


Christophe and Nathalie Courtinat                     

Christophe Courtinat
The domaine is situated on the road to Louchy-Montfand and was created around a 16th Century convent, complete with its own Bourbonnais dovecote. Christophe Courtinat, with his wife, Nathalie, represent the third generation to have made wine here, but it was Christophe’s father who started bottling their production in 1982 when he realised that the wine they were then selling en-vrac was less profitable than simply sending their crop to the cooperative. The family took the next logical step and withdrew from working their 71 hectares of cereals in 2001 - the year Christophe’s father retired. At this point they had six hectares, but have since doubled their holdings in the decade following.

The vineyards are mostly in and around Saulcet, although Courtinat has recently purchased a parcel of vines in Briailles on the opposite bank of the Sioule. The plantings are split into 8 hectares of reds (70% of which are Gamay) and 4 hectares of white (65% Chardonnay, 25% Tressallier and 10% Sauvignon). He has also established 28 ares of Pinot Gris and is making a little late harvest wine from this.

Christophe Courtinat is another grower who is openly flaunting the regulations of the new appellation as he is continuing to bottle three of his wines as a single variety. The (also illegal) Blanc Tradition is a 70% Tressalier/30% Chardonnay blend and is raised in tank. What used to be labeled as Blanc Chardonnay is now simply referred to as Saint-Pourçain, although the wine remains a 100% Chardonnay even with the 2009 vintage. Cuvée Selection is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, and almost certainly the only example of its type produced in the appellation (but for how long ?). The Rosé is a combination of pressurage direct and maceration and currently accounts for 20% of their production. Of the reds, the Rouge Tradition is raised in stainless steel and from 100% Gamay, whilst the wine labeled as Saint-Pourçain is the counterpart to the white and used to be called Rouge Pinot. It is 100% Pinot Noir raised in ancient 33hl foudres which were originally coopered in Nancy for the fermentation of the local famous beers of Lorraine. The Cuvée des Pérelles – takes its name from the lieu-dit in Briailles and is a 60/40% Pinot Noir/Gamay, aged for 12 months in second and third fill barriques. Finally there is a token amount of sparkling wine produced as Blanc de Blancs and Pétillant Rosé.

It’s hard not to like the softly spoken Christophe and the wines here are some of the best of the appellation. I think his decision to bottle wines that fall legally outside the appellation is as much naivety as anything else, and he hardly looks or speaks like an antagonist. With 70% of their wines being sold from the cellar door, they have a sound and profitable business and one that turns over their stock. If anything that is my only real criticism; that the wines could do with a little longer ageing (either in tank or bottle) to allow them to express themselves better, but I suspect commercial reality means that this is unlikely to happen.

Christophe Courtinat
Cave Courtinat
11 rue de Venteuil
Saulcet
T : + 33 4 70 45 44 84
T : + 33 4 70 45 44 75
F : + 33 4 70 45 80 13
cavecourtinat@wanadoo.fr

 

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