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Facts and wines

Domaine du Nozay was founded in 1971, but the small castle on the outskirts of Sancerre, can trace its history back to the 18th century. The castle consists of 15.5 ha. vineyards with a fairly uniform terroir consisting of clay and lime. The grape is Sauvignon and the current manager Cyril de Benoist takes pride in producing the wine organically, both for the sake of the environment and health, but also because he likes the challenge: when you don't use chemicals, you have to pay much more attention to your vines and constantly adapt to the special conditions of the year. Domaine du Nozay makes traditional Sancerre wines with mineral terroir quality.

Buy their wines here White wine Rose wine White wine
  • Sancerre Blanc 2018 100% Sauvignon blanc
  • Sancerre Blanc "Château du Nozay" 2018
  • Sancerre Blanc "Clos du Nozay" 2018
Rose wine
  • Côteaux d'Aix Rosé “Cascavel” 2017: Grenache 85%, Syrah 15%

Le Nozay is a small 18th century château located in the village of Sainte-Gemme-en-Sancerrois (8 km north of Sancerre). Originally, the castle was surrounded by forest and fields. In 1961, the Sancerre appellation was expanded, allowing vines to be planted on the steep calcareous slopes around Le Nozay. However, trees had to be felled and roots removed first – a huge job which did not deter the military man Philippe de Benoist.

Practical experience at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti

The castle had just been bought back by the family after being lost in a card game several generations earlier.

The current person in charge, Cyril de Benoist (born 1971), already knew from the age of 14 that he wanted to be a wine producer. He therefore chose a "viti-oeno" education (viticulture-winemaking) at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune (Burgundy). In addition to his theoretical training, Cyril has been in the best hands as he has worked for his uncle, Aubert de Villaine, co-owner and director of the mythical Domaine de la Romanée Conti.

Le Nozay consists of 15.5 ha. vineyards that surround the castle. They form a fairly uniform terroir, where the soil consists of clay and lime (locally called terres blanches – white soil).


Organic cultivation

The fields have been cultivated organically since 2004. The starting point is to strengthen the vines and grapes by ensuring them a nutrient-rich soil and adding mineral elements via homeopathic preparations. In this way, the plants are more resistant to diseases. The philosophy is prevention rather than symptom treatment.

Cyril also adapts his work to the conditions of the individual year, "the work must never become routine". For example: in heavy rains, leaves are removed to allow air circulation and quick drying of the grapes so that rot does not take hold. This extra work – among many other measures – makes it possible to grow the wine without the use of chemical protection.

Cyril laments that the vast majority of wine producers today spray with chemicals because it is the easiest and cheapest solution without thinking about the consequences for the environment and health.


Why ecology?

Ecology suits Cyril's beliefs. He wants to produce a wine that is healthy for both people and the environment, not least after he has become a father.

In addition, he likes the great challenge inherent in organic farming. When you don't use chemicals, you have to pay much more attention to your vines and constantly adapt to the vintage's special conditions.


Gentle and traditional winemaking

The quality of the pressing is extremely important to Cyril. He uses a gentle pneumatic pressing machine, which allows a slow pressing at low pressure. In this way, he can extract the best from the grapes and separate the last must, if any. is too green or rustic.

Vinification is traditional. No industrial yeast, enzymes or other additives are used. The tanks do not have modern temperature control. If the temperature rises too high during vinification, the tanks are cooled with cold water from the well.

The cuvée "Château du Nozay" ferments and ages partly in oak barrels to increase the wine's complexity, while the majority of the production - under the name "Domaine du Nozay" - is made in steel tanks, which preserves the wine's original fruitiness and freshness.


The ideal wine according to Cyril de Benoist

There is no single standard model for Domaine du Nozay. The wines must reflect the terroir of the domain and the conditions of the vintage. In general, the domain seeks optimal maturity – not overripeness, which weighs down the wines with high alcohol and low acidity. The acidity must be present, but not dominate the fruit sensation. It is the balance between these elements that makes the great wine.

Finally, Cyril has great professional pride. He thinks it is important that a wine also reflects the person behind it, and shows that the person knows his craft. He therefore wants his wines to taste of Sancerre, and that you can say "that's Cyril's Sancerre."



Sources of inspiration

Cyril is inspired a lot by his ecological colleagues from Sancerre, who are mostly from the same generation as himself. In particular, Jean-Laurent Vacheron and Alphonse Mellot Jr. can be mentioned here. Unlike conventional producers, Cyril finds organic producers much more willing to share their experiences – and their mistakes – so that others can learn from them.

In addition to local colleagues, Cyril is naturally very inspired by Burgundy and his uncle Hubert de Villaine as well as by his brother Pierre, who is the day-to-day manager of Aubert de Villaine's domain in Bouzeron.


The future of the domain

The natural evolution of Domaine du Nozay is towards biodynamic production. This has been experimented with for a few years. Among other things, switching to the lunar calendar has shown promising results for quality. He also plays music for his vines to keep diseases away and maintains that it nourishes the vines