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Despite the disastrous frost that hit the Loire Valley in the spring of 2016, our friends Marc, Rémi and Gwenaëlle at Domaine de la Pépière were able to make a small quantity of their classic old-vine cuvée, the Muscadet Sèvre-et Maine Sur Lie "Clos des Briords," which arrives on October 2nd. Although there was not enough juice in this difficult vintage to produce Pépière's special cuvées, "Clisson," "Château Thébaud" and "Monnières Saint-Fiacre," the grapes for these wines were blended with fruit purchased from neighbors to make the "regular" cuvée, this year called "La Pépie." It's an outstanding Muscadet for current drinking and a great success for the vintage.
First produced in 1988, the "Clos des Briords" 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. Harvesting is by hand, of course, with the grapes transported to the cellar with great care, and brought unbroken to the pneumatic press by gravity. The fermentation proceeds naturally in underground vats for about a month, without the addition of yeasts or sugar, after which the wine spends seven months on its lees without racking. Though we are very happy to see the recent proliferation of single-vineyard and Cru Communal Muscadets, the Pépière Clos des Briords remains one of the finest wines of the region and its superb value should gain it a place in your cellar each year! Please Note: Due to its growing international popularity, allocations of this wine get smaller every year. Though case quantities are currently possible, we urge those interested to not delay their purchase for too long.
(First produced in 2008, this great Muscadet is made from a three hectare parcel of old massale-selection vines 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.) In 2016 and 2017, vineyards in the Loire Valley were hit with devastating frosts causing losses of 50% to 90% in some areas. Muscadet was particularly badly hit in 2016 - our old friends at Domaine de la Pépière lost 85% of their crop but salvaged enough fruit to make three cuvées - "la Pépie," "les Gras Moutons" and a small amount of the classic "Clos des Briords." Despite the frost damage in the region, quality has been very good for the wines produced - lacking the consistency of 2014 and 2015 perhaps but with some oustanding wines featuring vibrant fruit and bright acidities. At Pépiére, the cuvée "La Pépie" benefitted from the inclusion of much of the estate's old vine fruit, and the "Clos des Briords" is excellent, with good ripeness and firm acidity, perhaps similar to a vintage like 2005. The aromas show more white fruits than usual with hints of citrus and lime flower, backed with the saline and mineral notes always present in the aromatics of Briords. The palate is quite ripe and supple with round white fruits, fresh herbs, lemon confit, almond and white pepper - quite elegant with silky density and structured enough for medium-term aging. The finish is long with lingering citrusy fruits and a nice kick of bitter mineral flavors at the end. Congratulations to Marc, Rémi and Gwenaëlle for producing such a lovely wine in such a difficult vintage. Find some Glidden Point oysters, sole or cod and enjoy now, or hold for 10 to 15 years and serve with crab, langoustines and fish in sauce. David Lillie
Domaine de la Pépière lost most of their crop to frost in 2016 but was able to produce this excellent Muscadet using grapes normally reserved for the Clisson, Château Thébaud and Monnières-Saint Fiacre cuvées as well as fruit purchased from neighboring parcels, harvested and selected by Pépière. (This is the only wine from Pépière in 2016 except for a small amount of Clos des Briords and Gras Moutons.) The 2016 La Pépie shows classic Muscadet aromas of pear, citrus peel, almond and stone with a bit of lime-flower. The palate is dense, with nice ripeness, balanced with firm stony acidity, with flavors of dried pear, citrus, stone and white pepper and finishing with good length of citrusy acids and saline minerals. This is a serious Muscadet that echos the characteristics of the estate's top cuvées. The domaine lost almost 85% of the crop in 2016, but the small amount of wine they did produce is lovely. Our thanks to Marc, Remi and Gwènaëlle for this delicious and well-priced Muscadet.