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The heatwave of the last few days in NY reminds us to have an adequate supply of Muscadet on hand! The firm acidity and great mineral expression of the best Muscadets excites and refreshes the palate making these wines the perfect accompaniment for everything from oysters to halibut, not to mention grilled chicken on a warm summer day... Today's offerings are a lesson in terroir and geology with the bedrock and topsoils in each vineyard bringing different properties to the aromas, fruit and saline mineral flavors of each wine.
Yes, this is realy the last inventory of the 2020 Domaine de la Pépière "Pépie." This classic Muscadet, predominantly from granite/clay soils, shows very subtle white fruit and citrus flavors with a bit of anise and a very firm mineral finish.
The beautiful 2020 Pépière "Les Gras Moutons" has finally arrived after long delays in shipping. Gras Moutons is a great parcel on gneiss, in layers that permit a deep penetration by the vines, with sandy clay and amphibolite stones. 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 fuller, softer and more open. Just delicious!
The Domaine de la Pépière Cru Château Thébaud is one of the very greatest Muscadet, from old vines in a vineyard with great terroir on slopes overlooking the river Maine. The granite here (Granite 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. Decant this dense and powerful Muscadet if drinking now, best to wait 5 years then enjoy until 2040...
Domaine de la Bregeonnette has been organic since 1967! The Orieux family does everything right - hand harvesting, slow pneumatic press, wild yeast fermentation, minimal use of SO2. The Domaine cuvée is from sandy clay/micaschiste soils giving a light, crystalline style of Muscadet, vibrant and refreshing. Very little Muscadet was produced in 2021 due to the devastating frost in April, so we're fortunate to have this lovely wine on the shelf!
Jo Landron's 2019 "Les Houx" is a big wine with very pronounced mineral flavors coming from an organic/biodynamic vineyard on clay and sand over a sub-soil of gneiss, rich in iron and quartz. Rather full-bodied and intensely flavored, the 2019 will complement oysters and full-flavored fish dishes and will open up nicely over the next 3 to 5 years...
The most austere and firmly structured wine in today's offering is the unique 2020 "Terre de Pierre" from Luneau-Papin. This fascinating wine is from a parcel of 50 year-old vines on La Butte de la Roche, a dramatic dome of igneous rock with quartz stones and serpentine minerals overlooking the marshes of Goulaine. The serpentine rock creates a very poor soil, giving wines that are normally somewhat austere and marked by intense minerality and firm acidity that tingles the palate. The finish is long and scintillating with subtle white fruits and minerals. Enjoy now or cellar for 10 to 15 years...
Domaine Michel Brégeon, now owned by wine maker Fred Lallier, is primarily situated on a bedrock of gabbro (related to basalt) in the village of Gorges. Muscadet from Gorges shows distinctive aromas, with petrol, mushroom and wet stone flavors mingling with those of classic Muscadet, and with a bit more density on the palate. The estate is now certified organic and has a high percentage of old massale-selection vines. The 2019, from a quite warm and dry vintage that produced full-bodied wines, is a great example and a fabulous value at $18.99
Pépière 2020 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Les Gras Moutons
(Arrives July 15) The 2020 Muscadet "Les Gras Moutons" is a lovely wine and 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, despite their presence on the label, 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 2020 Gras Moutons is a bit brighter than the 2019 and 2019, showing a pale bronze color and beautiful aromas of ripe pear and quince with hints of anise, stone and almond; The palate shows a nice level of glycerol and is quite mineral with ripe pear and white peach, supple and ripe but framed in firm acidity. The finish is long and dense with white fruits, citrus and an almost bitter mineral aspect, making this an outstanding food wine to enjoy for the rest of this decade.
Pépière 2017 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Cru Château Thébaud
The Domaine de la Pépière Cru Communal Château Thébaud comes from old vines in vineyards with great terroir on slopes overlooking the river Maine. The granite here (Granite 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 2014 here were among the best of the vintage in Muscadet and the 2017 will stand out as well due to the combination of density and minerality with the very firm acidity of this very good vintage year for Muscadet - those of you lucky enough to have the 2014 in your cellar understand just what a special wine this is. Notes from Remi Branger: "For the Château Thébaud 2017 - we harvested on the 2nd of September and did a longer elevage - 3 and 1/2 years sur lie, and we bottled it in the spring of 2021. We had thought to do a 4 year elevage but we realized that the exchange between the lies and the wine was occuring faster than usual. We have a beautiful Château Thébaud with aromas of white flowers and a touch of white peach; on the palate the density and power arrive in the finish which is less structured than the 2014 but is more structured and brighter than the 2015." The 2014 Château Thébaud is one of my favorite Muscadet, though it needs 5 more years to really open up, and the 2017 is not far behind - perhaps a bit more precocious, thus beautiful to drink now or to age for 20 years. David Lillie
Bregeonnette (Stéphane Orieux) 2021 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
(Arrives 7/15) Stéphane Orieux's father Joseph converted the estate to organic agriculture back in 1967, and Stéphane has continued (now certified by Ecocert) the great vineyard work of his father. The grapes are hand-harvested, fermentations are with wild yeasts and minimal sulfur is used. The 2021 Bregeonnette is from vines on sandy clay and micashiste soils and is a beautiful example of a young, vibrant Muscadet from organic farming. The aromas are classic Muscadet: pear, green apple, citrus, fresh herbs and wet stone with floral hints. The palate is refreshing with subtle white fruits and citrus with hints of mineral and almond, with firm citrusy acids in the finish. This is a delicious and versatile Muscadet to serve with shellfish and white fish such as cod, haddock and sole and it's a nice aperitif as well.
Landron, Jo 2019 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Les Houx
The 2019 "les Houx" is a great Muscadet by Jo Landron coming from an organic/biodynamic vineyard on clay and sand over a sub-soil of gneiss, rich in iron and quartz and quite high in acidity. Kept on the lees for 12 months. In the glass, this white is a clear lemon in color. Aromatically defined by bright mineral stoniness, softened by smells of flowers and herbs. A richer, more concentrated core of yellow stone fruit develops as the wine gets some air. On the palate, mild flavors of cured lemon and apricot are accented by a hit of salinity, all culminating in a simple, precise finish of anise and flint. Lovely acid and a tender mouthfeel drives the structure. This will drink well young, with grilled or steamed fish and shellfish but also with crab, langoustines and lobster, especially after a few years of aging. Did we say that the price is ridiculously, even embarrassingly low, as Landron's great work deserves a much higher price...
Luneau-Papin 2020 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Terre de Pierre
(Arrives 5/24) This fascinating wine is from a parcel of 50 year-old vines on La Butte de la Roche, a dramatic dome of igneous rock with quartz stones and serpentine minerals overlooking the marshes of Goulaine. Pierre-Marie Luneau is in charge here and is doing great organic /biodynamic 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 the 2020 was enhanced by aging of 14 months on the lees, with bottling in November of 2021. The 2020 "Terre de Pierre" is bright and crystalline with citrus aromas and hints of stone and dried herbs. The palate is elegant and crisp with firm saline acidity, with pear, almond and citrus flavors, and the terroir kicks in nicely with intense mineral notes and firm acidity that tingles the palate. The finish is long and scintillating with subtle white fruits and minerals. Serve this lovely Muscadet now with shellfish, cod and sole, seared scallops, or cellar for 10 to 15 years. David Lillie
Brégeon, Michel 2019 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
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 2019 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