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People think of Muscadet as a refreshing summer wine, and yes, it's been cold and damp in New York for way too long, but if you're having fish or shellfish, white meats or roast chicken for dinner, or enjoying some goat cheese, then it's time for Muscadet! This email features the arrival of the superb 2017 Domaine de la Pépière "Clisson!" Beginning in 2005, Domaine de la Pépière has produced this cuvée 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 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. Our tasting a few weeks ago of the 2017 with Rémi and Gwënaelle of Pépière revealed a fabulous "Clisson" showing the ripeness of 2015 but with a more earthy and mineral finish - it's a prime candidate for cellaring. (Opening a ten to twenty+ year-old Muscadet with a full-flavored fish dish is one of the great pleasures of the world of wine!)
We're very happy to offer a bit more of the outstanding 2014 Pépière "Château Thébaud" and our last inventory of the wonderful 2018 Pépière "Les Gras Moutons," recently featured in the Revue Vin de France as one of the "100 Most Distinctive Wines of the Loire." (OK how would you translate "incontournable?") Also back in stock is the superb Pépière/Brégeon collaboration, the 2015 "Gorges" - this beautifully dense wine from Gabbro subsoils is destined for long aging, but is delicious as a young wine as well.
At our tasting with Pierre-Marie and Marie Luneau-Papin last week we loved their superb and intriguing 2018 "Terres de Pierre," from a great terroir of serpentine rock, and we also have to feauture their rare and wonderful 2015 "Excelsior - Clos des Noelles." Made in only the best vintages the "Excelsior" is one of my very favorite Muscadets and will repay long-term cellaring.
Recent tastings with Jo Landron at Domaine Louvetrie and Fred Niger van Herck at Domaine de l'Ecu compel us to offer four more superb Muscadets! Jo Landron's 2015 "Fief du Breil" is one of the most scintillating and mineral expressions we have encountered from this great hillside vineyard on orthogneiss, near the Sèvre - drink it now if you dare, best 2028 - 2040. His "Domaine" Cuvée in 2018 is lovely as well, a bit softer with pretty pear fruit and a nice mineral finish. And from Fred Niger van Herck, who took over from Guy Bossard at Domaine de L'Ecu, we're happy to offer two fabulous wines, the 2018 "Granite" and the 2018 "Orthogneiss," that continue the traditions of this great estate.
Drink More Muscadet!
All wines arrive by Friday, Feb 14th.
The 2017 "Clisson" reminds us of the superb 2014 - subtle, fine and elegant, and at the same time dense and powerful, yet with only 12.5 % alcohol. The wine shows a very pale bronze color lovely aromas of lemon zest, fresh herbs, stone, almond and dried pear and apple, very elegant, with hints of pineapple, anise and brown spice. The palate shows nice ripeness, density and weight but remains delicate and fresh with pear, citrus zest and intense mineral flavors with a finish that is very long and lemony and slightly astringent with food-friendly minerality. The 2017 Clisson is a delightful wine - serve as often as possible with oysters, little-necks, grilled seafood and roast chicken. Put some in the cellar to enjoy over its 20+ year evolution while enjoying with fish in sauce and shellfish. Thank you Marc, Remi and Gwenaëlle for another beautiful wine!
We're ecstatic 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 topsoil (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
Jo Landron's "Domaine" cuvée from La Louvetrie has been excellent in recent vintages and the 2018 is really lovely, a bit softer and more forward than his "Fief du Breil" and "Les Houx," showing pretty pear and citrus fruit with a nice mineral kick in the long finish. This very versatile wine will pair with anything from oysters to cod or lobster, not to mention roast chicken and mild cheeses. David Lillie
This lovely wine clearly illustrates the difference between the granite and gneiss terroirs in Muscadet. Gras Moutons is a great parcel on gneiss, in layers that permit a deep penetration by the vines, with sandy clay and amphibolite stones. The vines are at the top of a hill and on the south-facing slope overlooking the Maine. (The name, by the way, does not refer to fat sheep, but rather in local dialect, to the hilltop vineyard site.) This terroir produces lovely, classic Muscadet 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. The 2018 Gras Moutons is a sensational Muscadet showing a pale bronze color and beautiful aromas of ripe pear and quince with hints of anise, stone and almond; The palate is very dense and mineral with ripe pear and white peach, quite supple and ripe but framed in firm acidity. The finish is long and dense with white fruits, citrus and an almost bitter mineral aspect - this will pair beautifully with a full-flavored fish or chicken dish. Five to eight years of aging will bring out the complexity of this lovely wine. Highly recommended and a great value! David Lillie
Domaine de la Pépière 2018 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie "La Pépie" is now from the second bottling, with grapes from older vines that were picked later - the wine is denser with more minerality and acidity than the first bottling - really a delicious and well-structured Muscadet. Don't delay in grabbing a case or two before it disappears...!
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 "Granite" is always one of the most distinctive of Muscadet, with the Melon de Bourgogne coming from 50-year-old vines in a parcel of stony soils on "granite a deux micas." On the nose, the minerals are boldly pronounced, with notes of almond skins, cantaloupe, Meyer lemon, and sea spray. The palate is a fine mix of lemon zest, saline stones, some under-ripe pear, and white flowers. A gorgeous wine to pair with oysters (of course), langoustines, or Coquille Saint-Jacques. JDC
The superb Domaine de L'Ecu Orthogneiss is from a 3-hectare parcel with 45-55 year-old vines facing southwest. The top soil is granulous and not very deep (30-50 cm). Sub-soil of orthogneiss, a metamorphosed igneous rock where minerals are arranged in bands, organically farmed since 1975, biodynamic-Demeter certified since 1998. Soil worked manually and yields are kept low. All grapes are hand harvested, gravity fed with no use of pumps. Wild yeast fermentation, minimal SO2 used, aged on the lees in underground vats for 15-18 months. The 2018 Orthogneiss shows a pale gold color and complex ripe aromas of lemon, pineapple, marzipan, dried pear and anise - quite expressive and intriguing. The palate is dense and ripe with citrus, melon, anise and stone fruits backed by very firm lemony acidity and intense saline mineral flavors that continue in the finish. This will accompany full-flavored oysters, but best with fish in sauce, scallops and lobster. Drink this beautiful wine over the next ten years. David Lillie
The Domaine de la Pépière Château Thébaud "Clos des Morines" comes from old vines on a beautiful vineyard with great terroir sloping down towards the river Maine. The granite here (Granit de Château Thébaud, oddly enough) is fissured and permeable by the vine roots which have access to water during dry spells and absorb micro-nutrients along the way. 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2015 here were among the best of the vintage in Muscadet and the 2014 will stand out as perhaps the finest yet due to the perfect combination of great density and minerality with the very firm acidity of this superb year for Muscadet - those of you lucky enough to have the 2014 Pépière Clisson in your cellar understand just what a special vintage this is. From Remi Branger at Pépière: "As the wine aged we performed three bâtonnages and after three and a half years sur lie, in April 2018, we decided to bottle it. We then decided to leave it another year in bottle before offering it for sale. For us, the 2014 Château Thébaud is a wine with a great potential for cellaring. In its youth, the wine was very austere but the prolonged élevage sur lie allowed it to develop well and it benefited further from the additional year in bottle. Recent tastings of the wine confirm to us that we made the right choice for the aging, because it has the balance we hoped for with a finish of power and tension."
Made only in exceptional vintages, the Luneau-Papin "Excelsior - Clos des Noelles" is one of my favorite Muscadets, usually a bit rounder than the granite-soil "L D'Or" but always aromatically complex and with great intensity and length. The massale-selection vines were planted in 1936 on a terroir of "micaschistes a deux micas," (lieu-dit "La Plecisiere") exposed full south. The grapes are hand-harvested and undergo a slow wild yeast fermentation with 36 months of aging on the lees. The 2015 shows subtle, complex aromas of bitter lemon, lime-flower, melon, pear, mint, almond and stone. The palate is silky, crystalline and dense with white fruits, lemon zest, almond, smoke and wet stone with fabulous length of pear, minerals and taut acidity. Please decant if drinking now, serve with any elegant seafood dish. Cellar five to fifteen years and serve with richer fish dishes, white meats, rabbit. Beautiful wine! David Lillie
This fascinating wine is from a new parcel of 45 year-old vines, La Butte de la Roche, high on a dome of igneous rock with quartz stones and serpentine minerals overlooking the marshes of Goulaine. The young Pierre-Marie Luneau is in charge here and is doing great organic vineyard work, reclaiming this wonderful site with vines planted in 1974. The serpentine rock creates a very poor soil, giving wines that are normally somewhat austere and marked by intense minerality, enhanced by aging of 17 months on the lees. The 2018 is a superb wine showing ethereal aromas of stone, citrus and white fruits, with a dense stony palate showing subtle white fruits with hints of anise and mint. This will be delicious now with grilled fish, and should age beautifully for 15 to 20 years. David Lillie
Jo Landron's Fief du Breil is from a beautiful, walled vineyard sloping towards the Sèvre, with clay, sand and quartz stones over a bedrock of orthogneiss. The vines average 40 to 50 years of age, the vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic and gives very low yields. This beautiful wine needs aeration or decanting, then shows aromas of grapefruit skin, pear, lime-flower, candied citrus and almond. The palate is perfectly balanced and intensely mineral - showing ripe white fruits, almond, anise and stone flavors with firm acidity and pronounced flavors of stone and saline mineral. This is a bit more forward than the granite-based wines - really superb as a young wine served with shellfish, grilled fish and roast chicken. As usual with great Muscadet it will age beautifully and pair with monkfish, lobster and goat cheeses. Very little was imported, don't miss it! David Lillie (Oops, most already sold - more is arriving in April.)