Domaine Cosse Maisonneuve, run by Matthieu Cosse and Catherine Maisonneuve, is to the wine region of Cahors what Monet is to the art world; classic and timeless. It is the subtlety and the nuance of these wines that has seen them become revered across the globe; these are elegant bottles that don’t adhere to any trend. The only movement they are inherently linked to is that of biodynamic farming. Without their meticulous approach in the vineyards, the quality of their wines would not be the same.
It is this self-proclaimed perfectionist approach that has helped to elevate the southwestern French wine region of Cahors to another level. This partnership creates a dialogue not only on great wine, but also on agriculture and long-term sustainability in the face of climate change.
LITTLEWINE spoke to Matthieu Cosse for this article.
People: Matthieu Cosse and Catherine Maisonneuve
Place: Cahors, Southwest France
Varieties: Malbec (aka Côt), Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Gamay
Did You Know? While many other winemakers in the region create very extracted wines, their approach is the opposite: this is all about a lightness of touch. To achieve this, they barely touch their grapes (known as non-foulée in French, i.e. the skins aren’t purposefully broken), to avoid too much extraction.
Very early on in their journey, they discovered the realm of biodynamics. Matthieu says,
“We met many people and tasted many bottles, and we quickly realised that biodynamic wines had something in common. They had a certain expression — in particular a certain balance — that intrigued us. They had this notion of digestibility, an additional depth of complexity, and possessed an energy and verticality. We felt a certain sensitivity from these wines, so we decided to move in that direction.”
“Plus… putting chemicals in the vines… that just didn’t come naturally to us, so we rejected that idea. It had always made us feel uncomfortable. It was a very natural and simple journey for us, and our passion for biodynamics grew. It was a point of convergence — all of the conditions came together to allow us to go further in our quest to find the ultimate expression of our terroir, which comes from a balance in the vineyard, the grapes and the wine. In doing so, it puts viticulture and people in a natural milieu; you are respecting nature and doing something that feels good for nature. Nature is happier when you work like that, and the results were very different — we quickly realised that.”
Before working biodynamically, their vineyards had been treated conventionally for around 25 years, and they noticed results almost immediately after they began converting.
“At first, we noticed a change in how the vegetation of the vines grew. Then, it was a progressive evolution, but already in those first years the taste of the fruit was different. With time, the vines also became more resistant to disease, and in the wine, the quality of the tannins and the freshness of the aromas improved. We had more finesse, and it simply became obvious to us that biodynamics plays its role in this. Then, when it comes to the wine, ageing is also very important in order to fully reveal your terroir. It’s all these elements coming together.”