Readers of PUNCH magazine will be familiar with one of our newer producers, Mathieu Cosme. Along with Francois Chidiane, Jacky Blot, Foreau, and Huet, Mathieu Cosme is hailed as a star of Vouvray.
When you taste the wines, it’s clear why they are considered top-echelon. And the media no doubt are drawn to buzz-worthy aspects like biodynamic farming, natural leanings and entrepreneurial flair. It all seems obvious now but the story could have gone many different ways -- Cosme is an interesting study in vision, courage and exacting standards.
The story begins 23 years ago when Mathieu’s father died, leaving the family’s estate, Domaine de Beaumont, to his mother. Mathieu was just 13 and his younger brother Florent was in grade school. Their mother decided to stop producing wine, instead selling the fruit to coops until Mathieu might one day take over the estate.
When Mathieu enrolled at the Lycée Viticole d’Amboise a few years later, biodynamics and the natural wine movement were beginning to emerge. Indeed, one of Mathieu’s teachers was Christian Chaussard, the leading proponent of natural wine who coined the term “pet nat”. Christian Chaussard taught Mathieu the ABC’s of vine cultivation and piqued his curiosity in biodynamics. Impressionable as any teenage student may have been, Mathieu still realized that the stakes were high for choosing what was still a very controversial farming method and he relished the chance to learn more about how it actually worked.
Curiosity led Mathieu to seek out Domaine Huet for his apprenticeship during school. It had been more than a decade since Huet fully converted to biodynamics with spectacular results, and many students jockeyed for this prime apprenticeship. Applicants were grilled by Huet’s third generation Noel Pinguet, who had converted the estate to biodynamics, to understand their motives.
Suffice it to say that Mathieu won the position. Assisting Pinguet gave Mathieu not only confidence but conviction in organic and biodynamics as well as the steps to get there. By 2005, when he was just 21, Cosme returned to his family estate and got to work.
Immediately he implemented the lunar calendar and began converting to organic farming step by step until full conversion in 2007 and certification in 2014. The oldest vine parcels are tilled with his horse Caline as he finds it is the only way to not harm the vines.
The domaine’s soils are tuffeau—a mixture of chalky limestone and clay—and vines average 50 years. Harvesting is all by hand, with an emphasis on complete ripening rather than hastening at the risk of rain. Mathieu ferments with native yeasts in 400-liter oak barrels and then the wine ages 10 months before bottling.
The result is a lip-smacking delicious Vouvray—one of those wine that make you want to crack open a bottle and share with your guests or friends.