Côt in Amboise – another view

Château tunnel

All set up for the Côt/Auxerrois tasting
under the Château d’Amboise 

Following on from Hervé’s fine post on le Côt d’Amboise, here are my impressions of the tasting in Amboise, which formed an important part of the conference on Côt, held during the heatwave at the end of June. As well as producers from Amboise, the event also featured producers from Cahors, where Côt tends to be called Auxerrois. These will be covered in next week’s post.

Firstly it was a huge relief to be tasting in the refreshing cool of the tunnel under the Château d’Amboise, where the temperature was probably around 18˚C as opposed to 38˚-39˚C outside.

A reminder that the conference was part of the campaign to elevate Touraine-Amboise to Amboise without the supporting word Touraine – in effect to put Amboise on the same footing as Vouvray, Montlouis, Chinon etc. The putative appellation will be for Côt – Malbec in Bordeaux and Argentina – to be the only permitted grapes for red and rosé and Chenin Blanc for the whites. It will run along both sides of the Loire.

100% Côt from Amboise: my selection 

2017 Côt côt ri côt, Closerie de Chanteloup
This domaine has been organic since 2014 and is run by a trio of owners: Vincent Guichard, Frédéric Plou and Willy Debenne. Their 2017, which spends six months in barrels previously used by Domaine Saint Eugenie in Cahors, is attractively soft, delicate and has finesse. Ready to drink now.

2017 Les Chaînées d’André, Domaine des Bessons
Owned by Brigitte et François Pequin, I have consistently rated their wines as amongst the best of Touraine-Amboise. Although the 2017 is softly textured along with well worked, ripe tannins, I think this will benefit from more time in bottle. Similarly their 2017 Prestige des Bessons from old vines is promising but needs more time – ideally drink from 2021.

2017 Côt Vieilles Vignes, La Grange Tiphaine
Coralie & Damien Delecheneau are among the very best of Amboise producers.  The domaine, which they established in 2002, is organic and, as well as Touraine-Amboise, they produce wines in the Touraine and Montlouis appellations. Their 2017 VV has a blend of floral and animal characters with good mouth filling texture and a long finish. This is a wine you can happily keep for a number of years.

Philippe Catroux

Philippe Catroux


2014 Cuvée de Monce, Philippe Catroux
Based in the commune of Limeray on the north side of the Loire, Philippe is a fifth generation vigneron. I was fascinated to learn that his grand parents had a house on the edge of Epeigné-les-Bois, which following their deaths was on the market for a number of years before it was sold. The house has now been tastefully renovated. His concentrated 2014 is finely textured with good freshness in the finish. Ready to enjoy now.

Matthieu Plou

Matthieu Plou

2018 Rinascimento 2018 ‘Renaissance’ 1519-2019, Plou et Fils

The Plou family are very long established in the commune of Chargé, which is adjacent to Amboise – on the south side of the Loire and just to the east. First established in 1508 they now own 75 hectares of vines. With the arrival of the younger generation – Mathieu et Guillaume – I have noted a marked improvement in their wines. Renaissance is fermented in cement vats and has weight and powerful concentration along with an attractive texture balanced by the acidity in the long finish.

Xavier Frissantb

Xavier Frissant

2016 M de la Touche, Xavier and Isabelle Frissant
The Frissant family has been vignerons in the commune of Mosnes for eight generations. They now tend 27 hectares of vines. As President of the Syndicat des vins d’AmboiseXavier is a key figure behind the campaign to create an appellation Amboise. M de la Touche comes from 30 year old vines and is their early drinking Côt, which just has a short maceration to limit tannin extraction. Softly textured but with concentration and length the 2016 is ready to drink now. 

Lionel Truet
Lionel Truet

2017 Clos du Vau, Domaine de la Grande Foucaudière
In 1990 Lionel and Anne Truet established their domaine in the commune of Saint-Ouen Les Vignes to the north of the Loire. Unfortunately following the reassessment of Amboise vineyard in preparation for the ascent to appellation Amboise the Clos du Vau has not been included within the designated zone. This means that once the new appellation of Amboise has been ratified, this Clos will become appellation Touraine, which is decidedly unfortunate as the Truets’ Clos de Vau was one of my top wines from Amboise. It has a very attractive opulent texture, good weight, is well balanced with length and with a real potential to improve with more time in bottle.

Like Hervé I found overall that these Côt from Amboise were of a good to excellent standard. It is, however, unfortunate that a few producers still prefer to put Malbec on their labels rather than the variety’s local name – Côt. Time, I suggest, for all producers to sing from the same song sheet……









Even in buzzy Amboise there are still a few
remaining glimpses of la France profonde…. 


4 réflexions sur “Côt in Amboise – another view

  1. David Cobbold

    A couple of remarks here Jim, and a different point of view.
    1). I do not see the point of continuing to develop separate appellation identities for increasingly small production areas whilst cutting the nominal link with the large region: in this instance Touraine. Identifying a wine’s geographical origin is already complicated for those outside of France (and a lot within too!) and this constant subdivision will not improve that. Ultimately every single wine village will be wanting their own appellation. It is becoming absurd.
    2). A similar remark concerning Cöt. Whilst this is indeed the ampelographic name for the cultivar, Malbec is clearly now its recognized commercial designation worldwide. If producers from Touraine are looking to sell their wines outside their region, they would be much better off calling the grape Malbec. Just look at the sales of Cahors in the US since producers there started to do that. on a large scale; You cannot go against widescale market trends.


    1. Jim Budd

      Hi David, Apologies for the delaying in replying but was out with friends yesterday. I do have some sympathy with your view on smaller appellation areas. However, Amboise would not be an addition more a replacement as Touraine-Amboise would disappear. Is Amboise any more absurd than Chinon, Bourgueil, Montlouis, Quarts de Chaume etc? Regarding Côt/ Malbec and international sales the name Malbec is certainly better known, although Côt is widely used in Touraine. The Amboise producers all need to agree on what name to use.


  2. I had not read David’s comment when I wanted to add my opinion. I will keep it short: I agree 100% with what he says.
    Second: what do you shoot your portraits with? I’m very much into portraiture again myself and spend a lot of time, and some money, improving my skills at it. I’m expecting a – second hand – Zeiss Planar 85mm coming from Germany any day now. Your « tronches de vigneron » are truly EXCELLENT. Congratulations.


    1. Jim Budd

      Luc. Keeping it short please see my response to David. As far as the vigneron photos thank you for the kind words but their quality has little to do in my case with the operator of the camera, which is a Canon EOS 5 Mark 4. The lens is a Canon 85mm 1.2, which I agree gives very good results for portraits. When taking an individual I tend to set the aperture at 1.4 or 1.6 rather than 1.2 as the bokeh effect tends to mean that part of the subject’s face is already in soft focus.



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