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At Chambers Street, Muscadet season is 12 months long but there's no denying that the refreshing mineral flavors from the granitic soils of the Pays Nantais taste especially great on a hot summer day! (Wines are in stock, except Landron "Fief du Breil" and "Les Houx" arrive 6/28)
Domaine de la Pépière
We have to start out our Muscadet email on a sad note however as most growers in the region, as in many parts of Europe, suffered severe crop loss from a devastating frost in April. Many growers in Muscadet, including our friends Rémi and Gwénaëlle at Domaine de la Pépière, lost almost all of their potential 2021 harvest. Besides the terrible financial effects, especially on small, independent estates, this will necessitate the careful managing of existing stocks over the next few years. Thus the 2020 Pépière "La Pépie" which has just arrived in NY, will be the estate's only release this summer. Fortunately we have a little bit of the excellent last bottling of the 2019 "La Pépie" which fans of the domain should grab before it disappears. Also last of stock is the superb 2015 Gorges "Cru" Muscadet from Pépière in magnums - this is a great wine from a great vintage that will drink beautifully this summer with some serious seafood - halibut or swordfish perhaps - or cellar for another ten to fifteen years for a mature experience.
Fortunately there is a lot of great wine available in NY, from many of our favorite estates that have led the resurgence in quality from the great terroirs of Muscadet over the past thirty years. Jo Landron is one of the great heroes of the region who was one of the early converts to organic agriculture, hand harvesting and wild yeast fermentations along with Guy Bossard at Domaine de L'Ecu, Domaine Bregeonnette and a few others. We're happy to offer Jo's superb 2018 "Les Houx," a dense, intensely mineral and complex wine that is one of the region's greatest values. Jo's "Le Fief du Breil" is always one of the top Muscadets from a great vineyard of clay, sand and quartz stones over a bedrock of orthogneiss - drink the outstanding 2016 over the next fifteen years!
Marion Pescheux and Manu Landron began Complémen'terre in 2013, with help from Manu's father Jo of course, putting together 7.5 hectares of vines in great sites. Farming is organic, of course, the wines go through the malo-lactic transformation and are bottled with minimal SO2. The 2019 "Champ Geffray" (labeled "Tribute" in France) is a beautiful example of the estates more "natural" style of Muscadet, coming from an unusual vineyard with sandstone soils and 50 year-old vines on a steep southwest facing hill above the river Sevre. The wine shows a light gold/bronze color with intriguing aromas of dried pear and apricot, grapefruit peel, almond and stone with a bit of mint and spice. The palate is light and crystalline with citrus zest, white fruits, earthy spice and mineral flavors that continue in the finish with very firm acidity and terrific length.
Michel Brégeon, a friend and neighbor of Marc Ollivier, was a great champion of Muscadet, insisting throughout his career on hand-harvesting and wild yeast fermentations to express the great terroirs of Muscadet. Now retired, his estate is currently run by the very talented Fred Lallier, who has converted the domain to organic farming and is making superb wines on the unique Gabbro soils in the commune of Gorges. Fred's 2018 Muscadet is a delicious, fairly full-bodied wine that beautifully shows the unique aromas and flavors of the Gabbro terroir.
Domaine de l'Ecu
Guy Bossard is one of the most important vignerons in the Loire Valley, 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." A gorgeous wine to pair with oysters (of course), langoustines, or Coquille Saint-Jacques....
Pierre-Marie Luneau and Marie Luneau-Chartier head this historically important 39 hectare family estate in Le Landreau which has been in existence since the early 18th century, when it was already planted with Melon de Bourgogne (the Muscadet appellation's single varietal). After taking over from his father Pierre in 2011, Pierre-Marie became the ninth generation to make wine in the area. The soils are mainly micaschist and gneiss, but some plots are a mix of silica, volcanic rocks, granit and schist. The estate is now certified organic and working towards biodynamic certification. The Luneau-Papin "Excelsior - Clos des Noelles" is their best wine, made only in exceptional vintages, and is certainly one of the very finest of Muscadets. 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 2018 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. Limited avialability.
Domaine de la Bregeonnette
Stéphane Orieux's father Joseph converted Domaine de la Bregeonnette to organic agriculture back in 1967, and Stéphane has continued the great vineyard work of this father. The 2018 Clos de la Coudraye is from an excellent parcel in Vallet on granite subsoil with very old vines - it's an elegant wine with ripe high-toned aromas of lemon confit, melon, dried herbs, white pepper and pear; the palate is dense with stone, citrus, pear and anise flavors, with a lovely, creamy texture and ripe fruit in the finish, framed in minerals and firm acidity. This is a delicious, classic Muscadet from granite soils, very similar to the sueprb "L D'Or of Luneau-Papin - drink now or hold up to 10 years.
A little Geology...
During the Precambrian era, at a point more than a billion years ago perhaps, a vast upwelling deep within the earth brought molten material, mostly granite, to the surface. It formed what is called the Massif Armoricain, which underlies Brittany, Normandy, and the lower Loire Valley. A later period of enormous pressures and uplifts left folds of metamorphic schists and gneiss with veins of the original granites and of the dark, granular, very hard stone called gabbro, a more alkaline volcanic rock similar to basalt.
The ancient granites and the minerals they contain, principally quartz, feldspar, and mica, have weathered into nutrient-rich clays. Combined with sands, silicas, and various other stones, they make vineyard soils that are unique in France. The geologist James Wilson, in his fine book, Terroir, writes that these granite soils are acidic, which helps the vines assimilate micronutrients, such as iron, zinc, manganese, and copper. The granites - occurring elsewhere in France only in certain Alsatian grands crus (Sommerberg, Brand, Schlossberg), the volcanic hills of the Haut-Beaujolais, and the western edge of the Massif Central (Hermitage, Côte Rôtie, Cornas) - give the best Muscadets their ethereal, palate-exciting minerality when young, and the acidity and structure necessary to evolve into wines of great complexity and distinction. (From "The Flavor of Stone" - D. Lillie, 2008)
"The 2019 "La Pépie" comes mainly from the central 10-hectare vineyard of the estate on sandy "Granite de Château Thébaud" soils, with a an additional amount of purchased fruit (organic or in conversion) from neighbors on granit and gneiss. Harvesting is by hand, as for all of the estate wines. The fruit is direct-pressed and the juice settled naturally for 12 hours. It is then fermented in stainless steel tanks with natural yeasts; the wine is aged on its lees in large, underground vats until bottling without fining or filtering. Use of sulfur is moderate to very little. For the Sur Lie bottling, Pépière bottles and releases it in several stages, so the first tranche sees about 4 months on the lees before release, increasing up to 6-8 months for the last tranche." (David Bowler Wines) The last bottling of 2019 "La Pépie" shows a very pale gold color and ripe floral aromas of dried pear, quince, fines herbes, grapefruit and stone. The palate is round and refreshing, with a bit more depth than usual, with wet stone, pear, tart citrus, almond and mineral flavors. The finish is long and clean with citrus, a hint of anise and saline minerals. This is a bright and refreshing Muscadet, with a bit more weight and density due to the warm, dry conditions in 2019, that will be perfect with oysters, grilled fish, roast chicken, Asian foods and mild goat cheeses. Thanks to Marc, Gwénaëlle and Rémi for another delicious "Pépie!"
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! (July 2019) David Lillie
(Last of the 2018 vintage!) Jo Landron's 2018 "Les Houx" (formerly known as "Hermine D'Or") is from a great parcel of thin sandy clay soils, rich with silica, quartz and iron, over a bedrock of gneiss and clay. Kept on the lees for 12 months. Normally one of the most scintillating and mineral of Muscadets, the 2018 is slightly riper and rounder but remains essentially a mouthful of terroir. The wine shows lovely aromas of ripe pear, stone and anise that open nicely with aeration. The palate is round and mineral, framed in firm acidity with ripe white fruits, citrus, stone and licorice and there's a nice mineral kick in the finish. Delicious now, this will develop nicely over the next few years, and will accompany oysters and grilled seafood, from flounder to monkfish, roast chicken and mild cheeses. 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. In the dense and well-strctured 2016 vintage the wine was aged 20 months sur-lie. This beautiful Muscadet 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
Marion Pescheux and Mau Landron began Complémen'terre in 2013, with help from Manu's father Jo Landron, putting together 7.5 hectare of vines in great sites. Farming is organic, of course, the wines go through the malo-lactic transformation and are bottled with minimal SO2. The 2019 "Champ Geffray" (labeled "Tribute" in France) is a beautiful example of the estates more "natural" style of Muscadet, coming from an unusual vineyard with sandstone soils and 50 year-old vines on a steep southwest facing hill above the river Sevre. The wine shows a light gold/bronze color with intriguing aromas of dried pear and apricot, grapefruit peel, almond and stone with a bit of mint and spice and a hint of oxidation. The palate is light and crystalline with citrus zest, white fruits, earthy spice and mineral flavors that continue in the finish with very firm acidity and terrific length. Beautiful wine - serve with a cevice of fluke, grilled fish, seared scallops...
Fred Lallier is now in charge at Domaine Bregeon and is doing great work at this important estate - one of the leaders in the return to quality in Muscadet. Certified organic, the 2018 Muscadet is from average 40 year-old vines in Gabbro terroirs in and around Gorges - it shows distinctive aromas associated with this terroir - pear, stone, petrol, anise and mushroom, with lovely white fruits in this ripe vintage with hints of lemon confit and wet stone. The palate is round and ripe, framed in firm acidity and mineral flavors, with stone fruits, earth, almond, anise and citrus that continue in the long finish. This is a lovely Muscadet in a riper style that is quite delicious now and should open up nicely over the next five years. Please decant or open an hour in advance. David Lillie
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.
(Arrives 7/15) Stéphane Orieux's father Joseph converted the estate to organic agriculture back in 1967, and Stéphane has continued the great vineyard work of this father. Clos de la Coudraye is an excellent parcel in Vallet on granite subsoil with very old vines. The 2018 spent 18 months sur-lie before bottling. It's a lovely wine with ripe high-toned aromas of lemon confit, melon, dried herbs, white pepper and pear; the palate is dense with stone, citrus, pear and anise flavors, with a lovely, creamy texture and ripe fruit in the finish, framed in minerals and firm acidity. A delicious classic Muscadet from granite soils, drink now or hold up to 10 years. (A bottle of 2014 tasted recently was superb!) Highly recommended! David Lillie