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Domaine de la Côte

Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman are the duo at the helm of Domaine de la Côte. If we could only choose one word to describe their place in the world of wine, it would be visionaries. Neither of them come from a wine background; both fell in love with wine via the restaurant industry. This has definitely influenced the way they speak about wine — their vocabulary is refreshing and devoid of old-school tasting notes, instead full of words that make you think twice. Cardamon seed and coriander shampoo are some of the more left field terms we’ve heard applied to wine. 

Domaine de la Côte in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA of southern California. Cooler than Burgundy, the unique terroir of this domaine creates utterly compelling expressions of place.

LITTLEWINE visited Domaine de la Côte, and caught up with Raj last time he was in London to talk more about the vineyards: 

 

People:  Raj Parr & Sashi Moorman

Place:  Sta. Rita Hills AVA, California, USA

Varieties:  Pinot Noir and Chardonnay 

Hectares:  16

Farming:  Organic with elements of biodynamics

Did You Know? The duo are also taking on the brave and long journey of planting grapevines from seed

Geologist Brenna Quigley & diatomaceous earth

Terroir

The vineyards are all farmed organically. They are divided up into several parcels, each with its own unique mesoclimate and soil formation. The one thing that is continually present throughout each vineyard is the presence of diatomaceous earth. It looks like compressed crystal white sand, but it’s far more special than that: this earth is actually composed of the ancient skeletons of tiny aquatic organisms called ‘diatoms’ - a type of algae. Their skeletons are made of silica, which is why these soils are so white. It took Raj and Sashi a while to figure this out, and they only had their questions answered when geologists Pedro Parra and Brenna Quigley studied the soils and explained. Raj says,

“We had no idea what it would mean for the wines. It’s layered throughout the vineyard - sometimes just three feet deep but sometimes ten. We’ve discovered along the way that it gives a certain lightness and freshness to the wines.”

“La Côte is always lighter in colour, and always has finer tannins. It’s very exotic when it’s fermenting and in the barrel, but once it’s bottled it becomes shy; it’s always the wine that needs the most ageing to open up. When it does, its...

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