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We remember our excitement at the end of 2007 when Marc Ollivier's first "Granite de Clisson," the 2005, arrived in New York. It was his first cuvée with extended sur lie aging, once common in Muscadet but then practised only by Marc's friend Michel Bregeon, Pierre Luneau-Papin and a few others. "Granite de Clisson" was created, in part, to participate in a sort of Grand Cru classification for Muscadet which was finally approved by the INAO in 2011 with three Crus - Clisson, Gorges and Le Pallet. (Soon to be joined by Château Thébaud, Monnières St. Fiacre and five more.) Our friend Marc, now with his new associates Rémi Branger and Gwenaëlle Croix, has been a constant force for beter farming, more natural vinificatons and terroir expression in Muscadet. Now fully organic and working with biodynamic methods as well, the domaine's 2014 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Clisson outshines the 2005 version with it's astonishing purity, minerality and comination of lightness and power in a crystalline frame, with only 12% alcohol. It's a wine to enjoy as often as possible over the next twenty years or so, and at $22.99 (less 10% on a case), it's a sensational value as well!
We have included our current favorites from Domaine de la Pépière, in case you have missed any of these superb wines. Also on offer is the last stock of the 2014 Domaine de l'Ecu "Granite" - it's a great vintage for this classic Muscadet from Guy Bossard and Fred Van Herck - with one case each of the 2011 and 2012 as well! The 2015 Luneau-Papin "L" d'Or - always one of our most-liked Muscadet - has just arrived and promises to be another excellent wine both to cellar and to enjoy young. Finally, it may not be Muscadet, but every year we get a small quantity of the superb Sauvignon Blanc "Le Buisson Pouilleux" from Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat at the Clos du Tue-Bouef - the 2015 has just arrived and it's the best vintage yet for this outstanding natural wine, brimming with complex fruit in a beautiful frame of acidity and mineral flavors. Only a few cases are available - we urge you to try it!
(First produced in 2008, 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 Granite 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.) The 2015 vintage was a great relief to vignerons in the Loire and elsewhere as generally sunny, dry weather brought an ample harvest with good yields for the first time since 2010. In the words of Remi Branger: "For a description of the 2015 vintage, we had a quite beautiful growing season and dry weather in August (the grapes were lacking a bit of water), then at the end of August we had rain, but a bit too much, and this swelled the grapes. Fortunately the grapes stayed healthy and the harvest was beautiful, on September 10th, with good acidity, but a bit less concentration than in 2014. The 2015 Briords has developed well - personally, I find it quite fine and precise." Fine is a good description for the 2015 Briords. It shows subtle aromas of white fruits - pear and apple, nice ripeness, with wet stone and herbal notes. The palate is predominantly minerals with citrus and stone flavors, dried pear and thyme, with good length, quite focused and very elegant, with a crystalline structure and very firm acidity in the finish. At 12% alcohol, the wine has lovely balance and will drink beautifully young - it should develop the secondary aromas and flavors of mature Muscadet at 5 to 8 years and drink well for another 10 years. Thanks to the team at Pépière for another lovely Clos des Briords!
The Domaine de la Pépière Château Thébaud "Clos des Morines" comes from old vines on a beautiful vineyard sloping down towards the river. The granite here is fissured and permeable by the vine roots which have access to water during dry spells and absorb micro-nutrients along the way. 2009 and 2010 here were among the best of the vintage in Muscadet and the 2012 is outstanding as well from this somewhat difficult low-yielding vintage. More austere than the previous vintages, the 2012 shows subtle aromas of dried pear, herbs, citrus, almond and stone, quite subtle and elegant. The palate has excellent weight and concentration with firm acidity, without the forward fruit of the 2009 - very tight and mineral in style with terrific length. Fabulous served now with oysters, ceviche of cod, flounder and sole, and grilled fish, This should age beautifully for 20 years and more. Highly recommended. Tasted again in December of 2016, this beautiful Muscadet is beginning to open up a bit, with lovely fruit appearing in the aromas and palate, really drinking well, though obviously a wine that will benefit from another five years of aging. In 2018 the wine is singing and will be a treat on Thanksgiving!
Gras Moutons is a great parcel on gneiss with clay and amphibolite stones, giving a rounder, more aromatic wine than Pepiere's granite terroirs. Tasted in February, the Gras Moutons sampled from vat showed beautifully, very bright and lively with herbal, white fruit and citrus flavors and very firm acidity with good length. We're happy to report that 2015 is an excellent vintage for Gras Moutons, showing lovely aromas of lemon, almond, lime-flower, pear and dried herbs. The palate is less expressive now, showing stone and saline minerals with white fruits and herbal flavors, quite ripe but balanced with firm acidity. This is a lovely and very versatile wine - serve with anything from oysters to chicken. Delicious now, it will improve over the next five to eight years. DL
The Domaine de l'Ecu "Granite" is always among the greatest of Muscadets and a testament to the heroic efforts of Guy Bossard - certified organic in 1975 and Biodynamic in 1998. Frequently a bit musty and closed in it's youth, the 2014 Granite shows surprisingly ripe aromas of dried pear, lime-flower, candied almond, citrus and stone. (On day two, the aromas have become more elegant, complex and quite beautiful) There is ample cool acidity on the palate framing the complex white fruits, stone, citrus and almond flavors that continue on the long very mineral finish. This is a great vintage for Granite - absolutely wonderful now and over the next fifteen years or more...
2015 is another very good vintage for the Luneau-Papin "L" d'Or, lacking the crunch of the 2014 perhaps, but still a very stylish Muscadet for current drinking and medium-term aging as well. The wine shows complex aromas including pear, citrus and exotic fruit with anise and herbs. The palate is crystalline and long with stone and white fruits, really delicious, with a nice bit of crisp, bitter acidity in the finish. A good candidate for aging, this is Luneau-Papin's only cuvee on a granite subsoil (granit a deux micas) having a different character than the granite soils in Clisson or Chateau Thebaud. Vintages going back to 1989 of the L d'Or are superb now, but this very young 2015 would be perfect today with a filet of sole. DL
Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat make this outstanding Sauvignon Blanc from a one hectare parcel in Pouillé, with sand and gravel over limestone, giving very low yields. An intense and beautiful wine in 2015, with aromas of lemon peel, pear, dried herbs, lime flower and pine resin. The palate is dense and ripe with dried white fruits, lemon oil and earth backed by firm acidity. Beautifully structured and very long, this is an outstanding and unusual Sauvignon Blanc to serve with fish or chicken in sauce and full-flavored goat cheeses. Delicious now, the wine should be very interesting with 5 to 10 years of cellaring. Highly recommended. (The name literally translated is "squalid bush" but we hope it refers rather to the limestone of Pouillé...?)