Muscadet: A Tale of Two French Wines
Muscadet (móose-ka-day), the dry white from the Loire, is not highly regarded in France. It's known as a dry, crisp white without much seriousness or character and acceptable as basic mouth rinse for a plate of shellfish at a bistro in Paris or from a local seafood restaurant on the Atlantic coast. A lot of this is true as there is no shortage of mediocre, industrially produced Muscadet out there.
There's a secret however, and it's that Muscadet is capable of producing expressive, saline, bone-dry, floral/mineral driven wine if it's in the right hands. This requires some passion and dedication to things like hand harvesting, using indigenous yeasts, and taking one's time to age the wine "sur lie" in order to get added complexity and richness. It's ironic that here in New York we know this as quality Muscadet is found in caring stores and on informed wine lists. Because the wines don't yet have the reputation abroad, price to quality is excellent as long as you can find the right wines.
Here are two superstars from prime spots in the region between the Sèvre and Maine rivers, thus "Muscadet Sèvre et Maine".
Louis Métaireau Carte Noir (Black Label) 2015 was one of the favorites from our spring wine dinner, fantastic with the Metropolitan Bistro's pan seared Chatham cod. The wine is a classic example produced from a most prized vineyard, the "Grand Mouton." Marie-Luce Métaireau carries on the tradition of her father's work with her husband Jean-François Guilbaud making a wine that's graceful with complex floral aromatics and a long mineral finish. Métaireau hasn't received as much attention as some of the other growers so the wine is still under the radar. It's fabulous and represents a tremendous value.
Marc Olivier at Domaine De La Pépière is well known and his wines sell out. We were fortunate to receive a small allocation of the cuvée Clos Des Briords, coming from a single parcel planted on clay and schist over granite in 1930. Briords produces a powerful style of Muscadet, the 2015 is lime blossom and crushed rock for me wound on a firm spine of fresh acidity. On a personal note I can tell you that this wine ages beautifully, I have bottles going back about 15 years and it's my go-to with fresh littlenecks.
At VWM we love to feature wines that reflect character and authenticity. We hope that you take advantage of this opportunity to try them.