Burgundy Domaine Laurent Cognard
Rather as dogs resemble their owners, so Laurent Cognard’s wines resemble him – rumbustious, outspoken and generous. Recently featured in the fabulously glossy World of Fine Wine magazine as a vigneron to watch, we fear that our secret about his wines may be starting to get out.
Laurent Cognard’s formative years were spent as a wine consultant in Lyon and then as a commercial agent for the Champagne house Billecart-Salmon in Paris. Laurent began making his own domaine wines in 1997 from fruit which had previously been sold onto the local co-op by his parents. Up until 2006 he worked two jobs to cover the costs of making his own wines – and it has clearly paid off as today he farms in the appellations of Montagny, Mercurey, and Pouilly Loché. Slowly but surely Laurent’s empire is growing, with a further four plus hectares taken in hand in the Mâconnais which will eventually give him wines from Pouilly Fuissé and Mâcon Loché plus additional vines in Pouilly Loché, all of which were planted in 1935. At the same time, work on his new cellar in the Château de Buxy is now complete so instead of rootling around for space anywhere it could be found in the footings of the fortified town walls, he now has a purpose-built cellar with space allocated individually to his stainless steel tanks, barrels and bottle storage.
Laurent practices lutte raisonnée in his vineyards and no herbicides or insecticides have been used since 2005. The vineyards for his 1er Cru les Bassets, of which he alone has ownership, are found on a chalk-white variety of limestone, with just enough top soil for the vines to take hold. As a result the wines are pure and mineral, with a strong sense of their stony terroir. Grapes are hand-harvested and bought to the cellar in Buxy, where natural yeasts are used for fermentation wherever possible. When When we first met Laurent, he was using lashings of new oak, even 200% in some cuvées, but each year he has been reducing this and now he has moved to larger, 500 litre barrels. The result is beautifully pure, spiced, mineral wine, saline and perfumed too, with bags of flavour. "We’re not trying to make bodybuilder wines here," says Laurent, "our goal is to make wines you can drink."
His Pouilly Loché aux Barres is rich and intense, with white stone fruits on the palate, leafy and pure with racy acidity. The Montagny 1er Cru Les Bassets, Laurent’s flagship wine, comes from 2.35 hectares of 1er Cru vineyard and is sweet, rich and powerful and so gloriously Laurent in character. We urge you to try his wines before the rest of the world cottons onto them.