Fred Cossard is a very important figure. He produces exquisite, vibrant Burgundies in both colours from his base in Saint Romain. A jovial man with a strong intellect and a super fine palate, he is a master at producing wine with very minimal intervention.
His father worked in the milk trade and encouraged him to do likewise, which he did for ten years before he heard the siren song of wine.
If there was a hierarchy in the group of producers I work with, Cossard would be an easy pick for the top bracket. In my portfolio has taught his methods to Bruno Duchêne, Olivier Rivière and Maxime Laurent from Domaine Gramenon. Eric Pfifferling of Domaine de L’Anglore, who is close friends with Cossard, has been recently encouraged by him to modify slightly his fermentation and extend his elevage with stunning results.
You could say Cossard has the touch, the knack.
What makes his wines so good? Well I think you have to start in the vines which are entirely tended by hand.
In addition to this he works with a trusted friend, Philippe Secques, who prepares homeopathic tinctures for the vines to help against the disease and maladies that can often present themselves in Burgundy. The area between the vines is ploughed, in the traditional manner, using a horse. During the vintage particular care is taken in only selecting the ripest and healthiest grapes.
Fred handles his grapes and makes his wines utilizing some of the hygienic practices he learned working with raw milk. He adds no chemicals whatsoever including no sulfur. His macerations and fermentations are long. He routinely does five to six weeks weeks of fermentation in wooden vats and his wines go through malolactic fermentation while resting on their lees. He generally ages his wines in seasoned barrels, nearly always Toutant for the reds and Gillet for the whites.
He sterilizes his barrels using ionized negative oxygen molecules, which eliminates the need for any chemical cleansers. During élevage, he neither stirs nor racks. When both the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations finish, he assembles his wines without fining and filtration, or additions of SO2 when possible.
So how do they taste?
The whites are ripe, crisp and juicy; the reds sumptuous, soft and velvety and importantly both the white and red wines are balanced by a deep mineral salinity and the overwhelming feeling once you have swallowed them is one of freshness and vitality – like the (these days) rare sensation you get when you bite into a perfectly ripened piece of fruit. It makes them quite hard to stop drinking.
There is never much of these wines available. A steady procession of Parisian restaurateurs and cavistes head down to reserve their wine quickly every January – in fact Chef Inaki Aizpitarte of Le Chateaubriand buys Fred’s only barrel of Volnay 1er Cru Carelle Sous la Chapelle every year.