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For the second year in a row many regions of France, and especially the Loire Valley, suffered huge losses in yields. In 2017, a warm winter and early spring led to premature development of the leaves and buds, a high percentage of which were killed by a hard frost at the end of April. The late summer was extremely hot and dry, further limiting yields, but fortunately the quality of 2017 Loire Valley wines is frequently outstanding. The recently arrived 2017 Muscadets are uniformly excellent with good density and weight, with a beautiful balance of ripeness and acidity. Along with the 2017s, we're happy to offer an outstanding line-up of Muscadets from recent vintages, featuring the superb newly released 2014 "Gorges" from Domaine de la Pépière!
From our friends Marc, Gwénaëlle and Rémi at Domaine de la Pépière, first to arrive was the 2017 "Pèpie," which contains a small amount of fruit purchased from neighbors to make up for the fruit lost to frost. It's an excellent vintage for this wine, exhibiting the complexity, density and perfect balance that we have come to expect from Domaine de la Pépière's "regular" cuvèe. (Pèpie, by the way, is French for "thirst" and refers to the thirsty, well-drained soils of sand, gravel and clay over the fissured granit.) Arriving on August 7th is the superb 2017 "Briords Vieilles Vignes" - first produced in 2008, this great Muscadet is made from a three hectare parcel of old massale-selection vines (all over 60 years old) on a slope of Granite de Château Thébaud above the Maine river. Despite the small yields in this vintage, case quantities should be possible. The 2017 Briords will offer scintillating drinking as a young wine, and will cellar beautifully of course. We are pleased to offer as well: the 2015 Cru Communal "Clisson" (from 50 to 110 year-old vines in the "Pépière" vineyard) which is delicious for current drinking with the ability to age well for another fifteen to twenty years; and one of our favorite Muscadets of the past five years, the 2012 Château Thébaud "Clos des Morines" - this superb wine was austere in its youth but is opening up beautifully and will provide enormous enjoyment for another ten to fifteen years! And finally, an exciting new cuvée from Pépière, the 2014 Muscadet Cru Communal "Gorges." Produced from an exchange of juice with Domaine Bregeon, this extraordinary wine spent 42 months on the lees and is a superb expression of the terroir of Gabbro bedrock and clay topsoils in Gorges.
Another new arrival is the 2017 Domaine de la Bregeonnette from Stéphane Orieux. Stéphane's father Joseph converted the estate to organic agriculture back in 1967, and Stéphane has continued the great vineyard work, certified by Ecocert. The grapes are hand-harvested, fermentations are with wild yeasts and minimal sulfur is used. The 2017 Bregeonnette is from vines on both schist and granite soils and is a beautiful example of a young, vibrant Muscadet from organic farming - and it's a sensational value at 11.99!
One of the heroes of Loire Valley viticulture, Jo Landron has been making great Muscadet since the 1990s and was one of the earlist converts to organic and Biodynamic farming. Jo's "Amphibolite" is always a great Muscadet to drink young with oysters and seafood and the 2017 is absolutely sensational - it's a vibrant, refreshing and very mineral tasting wine that will drink beautifully over the next year and we urge you to try it! (And look out for the 2017 "Les Houx" coming at the end of the month.)
Last winter we were fortunate to taste with Jo Landron's son Manuel, who is making disctinctively different styles of wine, with his partner Marion Pescheux, at "Complemen'Terre." Based near Le Vallet, the estate produces delicious natural wines from Melon de Bourgogne, Folle Blanche and Gamay. Their 2017 Muscadet Sevre et Maine "La Croix Moriceau" is from a one-hectare parcel near La Haye Fouassière on Orthogneiss with Amphibolite soils. It's a complex, full-bodied Muscadet that will accompany a wide variety of seafood and white meat dishes over the next few years.
Domaine Pierre-Luneau Papin has been one of the leading estates in Muscadet over its nine-generation history, consistently making some of the finest wines in the region, currently certified or in conversion to organic farming. We remember their brilliant 1976 "L D'Or" which spent ten years on the lees and the 1989, which is drinking beautifully today! We are happy to offer the 2016 L'D'Or, from old vines on granit near Vallet, which will drink beautifully for twenty years or more. The top cuvee at Luneau-Papin is the superb "Excelsior" Cru Communal Goulaine, made from 80+ year-old massale selection vines on a terroir of micaschist. The current release is the 2013 "Excelsior" which is indeed an extraordinary wine both for current drinking and long-term cellaring.
Two of the most influential domaines in Muscadet (with new owners named Fred) must be included in todays Report. First, Domaine Michel Bregeon, now capably run my Fred Lailler, is represented by the wonderful 2014 Muscadet Clisson "La Molette." Michel Bregeon is one of the great heroes of the region - he insisted on hand harvesting and wild-yeast fermentations and he was partly responsible for the new Cru Communal system that is establishing higher quality levels in the AOC. Fred Lailler took over the estate in 2011, and is doing a fabulous job, continuing Michel's outstanding work and converting the 8 hectare estate to organic farming. While the estate is primarily known for its wines from Gorges on Gabbro soils, the superb Clisson "La Molette" is from 40 year-old vines on Granite de Clisson, and spent 27 months on the lees.
Second, Guy Bossard of Domaine de l'Ecu is the grower most responsible for the resurgence in quality in Muscadet. He converted to organic farming in 1975 and has been certified Biodynamic since 1998. He was the first to bottle separately by terroir in Muscadet and has had a tremendous influence on young winemakers. Guy is retired, but still very much on the scene, and the energetic Fred Niger Van Herck is now in charge and is continuing to make the superb Muscadets created by Guy, as well and fascinating new wines, many of which are aged in amphora. On offer today is the very mineral 2016 Muscadet "Granite," always our favorite cuve from L'Ecu - decant if drinking now, and enjoy over the next fifteen years.
All wines will arrive by Wednesday, August 8th. Drink More Muscadet!
"The 2017 "La Pépie" comes mainly from the central 10-hectare vineyard of the estate on sandy, granite-based soils, with a small amount of purchased fruit from neighbors due to the very low yields, again, in 2017. Farming is organic and harvesting is by hand, as for all of the estate vines. 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 2017 "La Pépie" shows a very pale gold color and bright aromas of dried pear, quince, fines herbes, grapefruit and stone. The palate is light and refreshing 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 light, bright and refreshing Muscadet 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!"
(Last of stock!) 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 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 warm winter and early spring of 2017 in much of France brought early development to the vines, followed by a hard freeze at the end of April that killed the developing leaves and grapes. Losses were high in many parts of France, especially in the Loire Valley, and hot, dry summer weather further lessened the yields. Fortunately the quality of the resulting wines, is frequently outstanding as is the case with the superb 2017 Domaine de la Pépière "Briords." The harvest started two weeks early, on the 29th of August, bringing in ripe grapes with a lovely balance of maturity and acidity. The aromas are classic Briords, with white fruits, citrus rind, almond and stone with hints of white pepper and anise. The palate shows nice ripeness and density, a bit closed, with wet stone and citrus and very firm acidity underlying the tart white fruits. This is a tight and classy Briords that will need a decant if drinking young, preferably wait three to five years and drink until 2035(?). 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 underwent a slower fermentation than at Bregeon, and was then aged 42 months on the lees. From Juliette Pope of David Bowler Wines "We tasted the 2014 Gorges out of vat, along with everything else, last January (2018) with Marc and Rémi, and it blew me away. Marc waxed quite poetic, declaring it 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 2014 Gorges is an austere yet dense and beautifully structured wine, with unique aromas showing almond, melon and petrol notes in addition to bitter lemon, stone and white fruits. The palate is dense with ripe pear and quince, earth, almond, anise and citrus notes, with stone, lemon peel and white fruits lingering in the finish. Although vibrant and delicious now, we would recommend waiting for eight to ten years before opening for peak enjoyment. Highly recommended! David Lillie
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
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!
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 2017 Bregeonnette is from vines on both schist and granite 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. And it's a crowd-pleasing dry white with enough depth to accompany your Thanksgiving! 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. Despite another difficult year for the vines, Jo Landron made a superb, scintillating Cuvée Amphibolite in 2017! The wine shows fresh aromas of dried pear, lemon zest, lime-flower, wet stone, fines herbes , almond and white pepper. The palate is vibrant and mineral with bitter lemon, white fruit and stone flavors with surprising density for a light-bodied wine at 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
From a superb hillside vineyard on orthogneiss with clay and quartz stones. A great vintage for Jo's Fief du Breil! Yes, the aromatics are a bit more pronounced than in more austere vintages, and there is more presence of citrus and white fruits on the palate, but the wine retains a superb mineral character and the finish is brisk and very long. Simply a great Muscadet — drinking this alongside the Pépière Clos des Briords would be a great lesson in the terroirs of the Pays Nantais! Tasted in February 2016, the wine is still youthful although the aromas are opening a bit, with intense minerality on the palate and fabulous length. Delicious now, this will be fabulous in 2025! Brisk enough for oysters and clams, perfect with cod, sole and flounder, complex enough for monkfish and swordfish - hurry down to Blue Moon Fish at the Greenmarket this Saturday!
Repesenting a new generation in Muscadet, Manuel Landron (son of Jo Landron) and Marion Pescheux are making lovely wines on their 9 hectares of mostly Orthogneiss/Amphibolite soils."La Croix Mroiceau" is from a one-hectare parcel just east of La Haye Fouassière. The 2017 shows a pale gold color and aromas of dried pear, candied lemon, almond and fines herbes. The palate is round and supple with firm acidity, with ripe white fruits, toasted almond, anise and mineral flavors that linger in the finish. This is a bit fuller-bodied than most Muscadet , but still expressing the Orthogneiss terroir with a firm structure good acidity. Serve with baked or broiled fish, roast chicken, vegetables and mild cheeses. Lovely wine! David Lillie
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 Château Thébaud. Vintages going back to 1989 of the L d'Or are superb now, but this very young 2016 would be perfect today with a filet of sole. The wine shows elegant aromas of salt air, almond, pear, melon and lemon peel. The palate is very mineral and silky with pear, stone, bitter lemon - a bit austere, finishing with earth, mineral and citrus notes. A beautiful wine of terroir - serve with oysters and grilled fish, céviche of scallops - hold for five years then drink with lobster and fish in sauce, drink till 2038. David Lillie
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 vines were planted in 1936 on a terroir of "micaschistes a deux micas," the grapes are hand-harvested and undergo a slow wild yeast fermentation with 36 months of aging on the lees. The 2013 shows subtle, complex aromas of bitter lemon, lime-flower, melon, pear, 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. 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
Fred Lailler of Domaine Bregeon is continuing the great work of Michel Bregeon and has converted the estate to organic farming. 2014 is a great vintage for Muscadet, and the Clisson "La Molette" is a beautiful wine, from a small parcel of 40 year-old vines on Granite de Clisson, located in Maisdon-sur-Sèvre near Domaine de la Pépière. The wine spent 27 months on the lees, and shows both the ripeness and the firm acidity of 2014, with great tension and fabulous mineral expression in the finish. The wine did go through the malo-lactic transformation, which gives a bit of supple weight to the wine, but it retains the magical balance of the best 2014 Muscadets - this is a must try for fans of the Pays Nantais...
Guy Bossard's groundbreaking Biodynamic estate is now in the capable and energetic hands of Fred Niger Van Herck, who is continuing Guy's fabulous work and introducing new wines vinified in amphora. The 2016 "Granite" is a bit more austere than the 2015, showing pronounced mineral and saline aromas with dried pear, citrus and herbal notes. The palate is crystalline and pure with good density with citrus, earth and white fruits. The finish is long with pear, iodine, citrus and firm acids. Decant or open in advance for current drinking, serve with oysters, other shellfish, white fish sushi, scallops and richer fish dishes as well. Drink till 2030+