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Since creating the estate in 1984 with parcels from his uncle, Marc Ollivier has carefully guided Domaine de la Pépière to its current status as one of the pre-eminent estates in Muscadet and one of the most respected domains in the Loire Valley. Beginning with old massale-selection vines on great terroir of Granit de Clisson and Granit de Château Thébaud, Marc has sold off less-desirable plots and acquired great new parcels enabling him to produce many superb cuvées from varied terroirs, the most recent addition being the outstanding "Gorges" cuvée produced from grapes sourced from his friend Michel Bregeon. My first taste of Domaine de la Pépière was in 1989, when Joe Dressner brought a bottle of 1988 (or was it 1987?) into Garnet Wines - "I'll take 50 cases" was my enthusiastic response, as Muscadet from hand-harvested grapes and vinified with wild yeasts was something quite extraordinary at the time. It has been a great pleasure to share in Marc's progress and success over the past 35 years, and to share many great bottles with him and the team at Louis/Dressner Selections. And we're very happy that Marc, who is soon retiring to enjoy more fishing and hunting, has wisely brought the talented Gwénaëlle Croix and Rémi Branger into the domain, ensuring the continuation of this wonderful estate for another generation!
Beginning in 1988, Marc began producing an old-vine cuvée called "Clos des Briords" from a small parcel on Château Thébaud granite. Ethereal and racy in its youth, the wine ages beautifully for twenty years or more, becoming wonderfully complex, with some similarity to great dry rieslings. I am reminded of a dinner organized by Monique Luneau-Papin, with Marc, Jo Landron, Guy Bossard and the Luneau-Papins with each grower bringing old vintages of their best wines. At the end of the evening, Guy Bossard proclaimed that the 1996 "Clos des Briords" was the wine of the night! And indeed, every year this great and under-priced wine gives phenomenal pleasure - but of course the allocations have become smaller so don't delay to grab some of the lovely 2018. Drink now with oysters, sole and cod or wait ten to twenty years for a beautiful pairing with monkfish or langoustine in sauce...
Some of our favorite Muscadets have been from Marc's friend Michel Bregeon in Gorges, whose terroir of Gabbro (a volcanic rock similar to basalt) with clay topsoils give unique and well-structured wines, capable of long-term aging. Beginning in 2014, Domaine de la Pépière has sourced fruit from Bregeon to make a superb new cuvée "Gorges" and the 2015 has just been released after 42 months on the lees. It's nothing short of fantastic, both for complex, intensely delicious current drinking and for long-term aging - it should be in the cellar of any lover of great Muscadet!
Beginning in 2005, Domaine de la Pépière has producee the cuvée "Clisson" from a small parcel of 50 to 110 year-old vines within the Pépière vineyard. Originally called "Granite de Clisson" after the unique bedrock in the vineyard, Marc has changed the name to "Clisson" to agree with the new INAO Cru Communal classification. The granit is covered with gravel and clay with large stones, ensuring good drainage and deep penetration by the roots into the fissures in the bedrock, bringing the mineral elements indispensable to this wine.. The 2015 is an excellent "Clisson" with attractive forward fruit for early drinking as well as firm structure for aging of fifteen to twenty years or more.
The Domaine de la Pépière Château Thébaud "Clos des Morines" comes from old vines in a beautiful vineyard sloping down towards the river Maine. The granit here (granite de Château-Thébaud) is fissured and permeable by the vine roots which have access to water during dry spells and absorb micro-nutrients along the way. The grapes are hand harvested, fed into the press by gravity and undergo a one to two month fermentation with wild yeasts. The wine ages "sur-lie" for 30 months with regular battonage, contributing to the complex aromatics and richness of the wine. This very young 2015 is delicous now, but please decant or open well in advance. This reminds me of the 2009, which is drinking beautifully in 2019.
"Les Gras Moutons" a great parcel on gneiss with clay and amphibolite stones, produces lovely, classic Muscadet, and the name has nothing to do with sheep! A wine to drink over the next 5 to 8 years, it has a more herbal and floral bouquet than the granite-based wines and the palate, although refreshing and bright, is softer and more open. In 2017 the majority of the grapes were lost to frost, but the portion that remained made a beautiful wine...
We've added a few of our favorite wines from Luneau-Papin, Guy Bossard's Domaine de L'Ecu (now capably run by Fred Niger) and our friend Jo Landron. We hope you try them all - and of course we have the delicious 2018 Domaine de la Pépière "Pepie!" All wines arrive by Wednesday, July 31st. Drink More Muscadet!
Our first 2018 comes from our friends Rémi, Gwénaëlle and Marc at Domaine de la Pépière - the 2018 "Cuvée Pépie." This first bottling of "Pépie" shows a bit more apple and pear fruit and a softer palate than normal, as 20 - 30% of the juice went through the malo-lactic conversion. It's a delicious Muscadet in a rounder style which will be a great match for any seafood and white meat dishes this spring and summer.
Jo Landron's Domaine Louvetrie "Les Houx" (formerly labeled "Hermine D'Or") is from a great parcel of 20 to 50 year-old vines on shallow sandy clay soils, rich with silica, quartz and iron, over a bedrock of gneiss and clay - a great terroir for Muscadet that always gives a dense, complex wine which benefits from medium-term aging. The 2017 is a great example and a sensational value. Lovely pale bronze color. A bit closed when first opened, then showing aromas of ripe pear, apple, lemon peel, a field in the sun, a hint of anise. The palate is dense and long with white fruits, stone, almond, iodine and citrus with perfect bracing acidity. Rather full-bodied for a Muscadet, this will accompany crab, lobster and monkfish as well as chicken, pork, Asian foods and goat cheeses. Or hold for a few years and serve with full-flavored fish dishes. Bravo, Jo Landron!
Guy Bossard is one of the heroes of French viticulture, having rejected modern chemical farming upon assuming the family estate, becoming certified organic in 1972, then progressing to Biodynamic farming in 1996. And this in a region where there was little recognition or financial reward for his intense work and the higher quality of his wines. Guy has been an inspiration for many growers in the region and the estate continues under the capable and imaginative direction of Fred Niger Van Herck. The Domaine de l'Ecu 2018 "Granite" is just arriving, so no tasting note as yet - but we imagine it will show a bit more ripeness and weight than the 2017 and as always will remain intensely mineral and age-worthy - give it a try!
First produced in 1988, this great Muscadet is made from a three hectare parcel of old massale-selection vines (all over 60 years old, with a high percentage much older) on a slope above the Maine. The bedrock is Granit de Château Thébaud, a fissured rock that allows the vines to penetrate deeply, with ideal thin topsoils of clay, with sand and gravel allowing good drainage. 2018 was a vintage of sunshine despite rains and mildew in the spring that lowered yields. The 2018 "Briords" shows vivid aromas of dried pear, bitter lemon, anise and herbs with surprising hints of exotic fruit backed with earth and mineral notes. The aromatic ripeness is more restrained on the palate which shows beautifully supple and dense pear and ripe apple fruit with quite firm acidity and finishing with nice grip and mineral flavors that linger on the palate. This is a beautiful "Briords," reminding me of 2009 - irresistible now but with enough acidity and structure to be a fabulous mature wine in 2029. Highly recommended! David Lillie
We're exstatic to have this superb new Muscadet from Pépière. The product of an exchange of juice with Fred Lailler at Domaine Bregeon (pressed at Bregeon), the wine undergoes a slow fermentation and is then aged 42 months on the lees. Marc Ollivier considers this his favorite of his bottlings right now, along with the Château-Thébaud. From Bregeon's vines on Gabbro with clay topsoils (in conversion to organic) the 2015 Gorges is a complex, dense and beautifully structured wine, with unique aromas showing almond, smoke and petrol notes in addition to stone, pear, quince and mushroom. The palate is dense and intensely mineral with ripe pear and quince, earth, almond, anise and citrus notes, with stone, lemon peel and white fruits lingering in the very long finish. Although vibrant and delicious now, we would recommend waiting for eight to ten years before opening for peak enjoyment. Highly recommended! David Lillie
The Domaine de la Pépière Château Thébaud "Clos des Morines" comes from old vines in a beautiful vineyard sloping down towards the river Maine. The granite here (granite de Château-Thébaud) is fissured and permeable by the vine roots which have access to water during dry spells and absorb micro-nutrients along the way. The grapes are hand harvested, fed into the press by gravity and undergo a one to two month fermentation with wild yeasts. The wine ages "sur-lie" for 30 months with regular battonage, contributing to the complex aromatics and richness of the wine. The 2015 Chateau Thébaud is a gorgeous wine, showing a bright pale gold color with ripe aromas of candied citrus, melon, pear, honeysuckle, wet stone, almond and licorice. The palate is silky and quite rich for a Muscadet, with white and yellow fruits, citrus and mineral flavors, with hints of anise and licorice emerging, with the firm acidity in the background. This very young wine is delicous now, but please decant or open well in advance. As with "Briords," this reminds me of the 2009, which is drinking beautifully in 2018. Serve with oysters and fish such as sole, cod and halibut, white meats as well, great with goat cheeses. Highly recommended! David Lillie
(Last of stock) Beginning in 2005, Domaine de la Pépière has produced this cuvée from a small parcel of 50 to 110 year-old vines within the Pepiere vineyard. Originally called "Granite de Clisson" after the unique bedrock in the vineyard, Marc has changed the name to "Clisson" to agree with the new INAO Cru Communal classification. The granite is covered with gravel and clay with large stones, ensuring good drainage and deep penetration by the roots into the fissures in the bedrock, bringing the mineral elements indispensable to this wine.Tasted in France in January 2018, the wine showed a pale gold color with lovely aromas of dried pear, quince, almond, lemon-confit and stone, ripe but quite fresh. The palate was quite dense, showing firm acidity and mineral flavors supporting white fruits, citrus, anise and almond, with terrific length. This is an excellent "Clisson" with attractive forward fruit for early drinking as well as firm structure for aging of fifteen to twenty years or more. David Lillie
This lovely wine clearly illustrates the difference between the granite and gneiss terroirs in Muscadet. Gras Moutons, a great parcel on gneiss with clay and amphibolite stones, produces lovely, classic Muscadet. A wine to drink over the next 5 to 8 years, it has a more herbal and floral bouquet than the granite-based wines and the palate, although refreshing and bright, is softer and more open. In 2017 the majority of the grapes were lost to frost, but the portion that remained made a beautiful wine showing pretty herbal, citrus, and white fruit aromas. The palate is elegant and bright with pear, quince, lime-flower and lemon backed by silky lemony acidity and mineral flavors. Perfect with oysters, mild flavored fish and chicken dishes and goat cheeses. David Lillie
The superb 2017 Luneau-Papin "L d'Or" is from 45 year-old Melon de Bourgogne vines on a parcel of "Granite a deux micas" in Vallet on a south-facing slope. The wine shows a pale gold color and aromas of pear, green apple, almond, lemon confit, lime-flower and wet stone. The palate is dense and crystalline with saline acidity underlying flavors of dried pear, anise, flint and citrus zest with hints of melon and almond. The finish is long with silky pear and earthy citrus fruit and lingering saline acidity. This is very similar to the superb 2014 - it's a breathtaking Muscadet to drink now with oysters, grilled lobster, broiled fish, roast chicken and goat cheeses, it will go through a marvelous evolution over the next twenty years and accompany fish in sauce, chicken with morels and older goat cheeses. David Lillie
Amphibolite - a metamorphic stone generally formed from gabbro or basalt, with a high concentration of iron and magnesium, prevalent in the vineyard, over a bedrock of gneiss. The wine from this vineyard is low in alcohol (normally about 11 - 12%) and high in acidity and mineral salts. Bottled after 4 months sur-lie aging and retaining a bit of CO2 from the fermentation, the Cuvée Amphibolite is refreshing, stimulating and a perfect complement to shellfish and light seafood dishes. Tasted in January 2019, the 2018 Amphibolite showed more white fruit aromas than usual with notes of dried pear, lemon zest, lime-flower, wet stone, fines herbes , almond and white pepper. The palate remains vibrant and mineral with bitter lemon, white fruit and stone flavors with surprising density at about 12% alcohol. Terrific length with citrus, pear and mineral salts in the finish. Pair with oysters and other shellfish, grilled fish, chicken dishes and goat cheeses - or just sip by itself on a hot day. David Lillie
Guy Bossard has been an inspiration for many growers in the region and is still producing superb wines, while in (semi) retirement, with the new owner Fred Niger Van Herck. The Domaine de l'Ecu 2017 "Granite" is particularly outstanding, amazingly elegant with a wonderful combination of delicacy and depth. The wine shows beautiful floral aromas of lemon peel, dried pear, wet stone and lime-flower with hints of almond and anise. The palate is dense and very long in this difficult but ripe vintage with intense stony flavors, pear, citrus and earth. A bit more open and accessible than some vintages of Granite but with ample structure and acidity for aging — perhaps best 2022 to 2035. Serve this summer with oysters, cod and sole, then with richer dishes after the wine matures. Bravo to Guy and Fred!