Mas Coutelou has been in the same family for four generations, but for most of that time the way of working and the wines were unremarkable. Then, in 1987, Jean-François (Jeff) Coutelou set out on a revolutionary path, and over the subsequent decades completely reinvented the domaine. Beginning with organic certification (before virtually anybody else in the region) he focused on revitalising the land and growing quality fruit, in the process reducing the vineyard size from 20 hectares to 13 (and production from 1,800 hectolitres to 500). In place of those vines too compromised by conventional farming, he planted olive trees and other species to improve biodiversity. All that work is repaid many times over in the wines. Today, Mas Coutelou is a leading light in the natural wine world, making some of the purest wines you'll ever taste, and Jeff is a model for conscientious, thoughtful vignerons everywhere.
The 13 hectares of Mas Coutelou vineyards are located around the small village of Puimisson, between the Mediterranean and the foothills of the Cévennes. They are planted with a selection of southern French vines, including a whole host of almost-forgotten varieties. In the vineyard, the work goes far beyond the basic requirements for organic certification to ensure the vines and the surrounding environment are treated with maximum care. The result is high quality fruit and wine that reflects not only the land but also the character of each vintage.
In the winery, no sulphur is used, no yeasts or enzymes are added, and no oak ageing takes place. The wines are always full of life, bright and pure, but which cuvèes appear in a given vintage is subject to Jeff's inspiration. The various labels do not always correspond to particular parcels of vines (or sometimes even grape varieties!) and they are only made if the style to emerge is right for that wine in that year. Some come back almost every vintage, some rarely, but as a buyer and a lover of these wonderful wines it scarcely matters. They are all delicious, and we take whatever we can get.
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