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The Melon de Bourgogne Grape

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About Melon de Bourgogne

(Synonyms: Auxerrois Gros, Biaune, Blanc de Nantes, Bourgogne blanche, Bourgogne verde, Bourgogne verte, Bourguignon blanc, Clozier, Feher Nagyburgundi, Feuille Ronde, Gamay blanc, Gamay Blanc à Feuilles Rondes, Gamay Blanc Feullies Rondes, Game Kruglolistnyi, Gros Auxerrois, Gros blanc, Grosse Saint Marie, Lyonnais, Lyonnaise blanche, Malin blanc, Mele, Melon, Meurlon, Mourlon, Muscadet, Perry, Petit Bourgogne, Petit Muscadet, Petite Biaune, Petoin, Petouin, Picarneau, Plant de Lons-Le-Saulnie, Roussette Basse, Später Weisser Burgunder, Weisser Burgunder)

Background

Melon de Bourgogne grapes Map showing Nantes, home of Muscadet wines

Melon de Bourgogne is a white-wine grape originating, as its name suggests, in the Burgundy region of France. The grape name is not well known, but the wine made from it—always 100%—Muscadet, is famous. Some Melon is grown in the U.S., chiefly in Oregon but now also in Washington State; such wines must be labelled by the grape name: "Muscadet" cannot be used of wines not made in that appellation. (The few American-made wines from this grape are usually just labelled "Melon", the "de Bourgogne" being discarded for simplicity.)

There was a min-scandal a few years back when it turned out that a lot of grapes being grown in the Pacific Northwest as Pinot Blanc turned out to actually be Melon de Bourgogne. Nowadays, the varietal labelling can be assumed to be accurate.

The Muscadet appellation is located at the western end of the Loire Valley wine area, and is centered on the town of Nantes, near the Atlantic coast. Within the appellation are three sub-appellations: Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine (whence about four in five Muscadets); Muscadet-Coteaux de la Loire; and the relatively recent (1994) Muscadet-Côtes de Grandlieu. Wines labelled simply "Muscadet" without one of those three sub-appellation tags are normally the most elementary specimens (and are forbidden by law from sur lie treatment—that is, the lees contact that defines better bottlings). Differences between Muscadet wines from those regions exist, but are typically not dramatic.

Melon is considered a relatively bland and simple grape, and Muscadet was slowly sinking toward obvivion till the later twentieth century, when new techniques, such as extended lees contact (now a hallmark of better Muscadets, and the resting time has today a minimum specified by law), maceration, and even some oak aging came into play. There is today quite a spectrum of styles and quality (and price) for Muscadet wines.

Muscadets made sur lie, which is most of the better ones, are normally marked by a subtle richness and greater fullness of body. Nowadays, some vintners accent that quality by stirring the wine as it rests on the lees, resulting in greater contact. Muscadet is also the only wine that, by French law, cannot exceed 12% (the only such maximum specified in their laws).

Muscadet is ideally a very dry, sharp, acidic wine, thus quite "crisp", and tasting strongly of minerality much more than of fruit (some even claim to detect a subtle "salty" quality, which is considered desireable); it is typically a light-bodied wine. It is often remarked that its best and highest use is as accompaniment to seafood, notably oysters, owing to that acid crispness, but it will in fact go well with any rich dish, especially creamy ones. It is a wine normally drunk while quite young, three years from bottling being about the limit for most. A few better specimens, however, can be aged up to a decade or so, presumably with some improvement but certainly with no loss.

Factoid: Melon de Bourgogne was introduced to the Pays Nantais region in the 17th century by Dutch traders looking for a sufficient source of neutral white wines that could be distilled into "brandewijn" (brandy).


Some Descriptions of Melon de Bourgogne Wines

  • Wikipedia

    "Muscadet wines are often light bodied and almost always dry with very little, if any residual sugar. Left over carbon dioxide from the bottling process can leave the wines with a slight "prickly" sensation. Master of Wine Mary Ewing-Mulligan describes Muscadets as fresh and crisp, at their peak drinking ability from release up to three of years of age. Muscadet that have been aged sur lie can have very subtle "yeasty" aromas. The acidity keeps the wines light and refreshing. Some examples can have a slight 'saltiness' about them."

  • Eric Asimov, The New York Times

    "The truth about Muscadet is that its virtues extend well beyond oysters. Many seafood dishes would go well with Muscadet, as well as light poultry preparations and pasta dishes, too, if you are willing to break the ethnic boundaries that channel so many wine choices. Apart from food pairings, Muscadet is just plain delicious, providing you are open to what it does best. Muscadet, like Chablis and Sancerre, is not a gobs-of-fruit sort of wine. Yes, one can often sense citrus qualities in Muscadet. But more often, it is a stony, mineral sensation — felt as much as tasted — along with herbal, saline and floral aromas that characterize Muscadet. Texture, I think, is a vastly underrated quality in a wine, and texture is an essential quality of good Muscadet. It’s what impels you to take sip after sip, simply because it feels so good."

  • Wine Searcher

    "The variety has naturally high acidity, but can struggle to achieve good concentration of flavors. The best wines show apple and citrus flavors, with mineral characteristics. A saltiness can sometimes identified, suggestive of the region’s maritime history. . . In the winery, the fashion is to subject the best Melon de Bourgogne grapes to extended lees contact and barrel maturation. This results in wines of greater depth, texture and complexity, however it is a more expensive process than the fresh-and-ready style, and this is reflected in the wine’s price."

  • CorkQuiz.com

    "Widely known as the wine to have with seafood, Melon de Bourgogne has a range of styles that incorporate fruit, minerality and quiet earth aromas. The grape struggles to have concentrated flavors by its genetic makeup; however the cool climates of the western Loire allow what could otherwise be a somewhat minimalist wine to develop rich fruit flavor and ample acidity. To maximize the aroma profile many Muscadet wines are aged sur lie or on the lees (yeast remaining following fermentation) for an extended period following fermentation. This sur lie aging can increase the body of the wine resulting in a much fuller mouth feel. Fruit aromas can include tree fruit (apple, pear, peach) and occasionally elements of tropical fruits (lemons and limes). Alcohol is usually less than 12%, allowing the wine to stay in balance. Muscadet is produced to be drunk young, while the flavor profiles remain strong."

  • Appellation America

    "Today, this grape is a minor variety in the Golden State, with small plantings in the cooler areas of the North and Central Coast regions. In such cool, coastal conditions, Melon can make balanced table wines with good flavor. Not surprising, since this old Burgundian variety,once widely grown in that area,is most associated with an even cooler coastal region. In France, Melon is mainly used to make white wines known as Muscadet from the Loire Valley's extreme western edge, known as the Nantes, which borders the Atlantic ocean. Here it makes light acidic white wines, with tart acidity, citric fruit character that often possess a salty character. The best of these come from the Muscadet de Sevre et Maine AOC, where many of the wines are aged sur lie to take on extra weight and complexity. Muscadet wines, and generally white wines made from the Melon grape are excellent food wines, pairing especially well with crustaceans and other salty seafood."

  • Loire Valley Wine

    "Although it was originally a rather neutral wine, Muscadet producers have refined their techniques in order to make wines with their own distinctive attributes. In particular, the wine can be designated as Muscadet Sur Lie, indicating that it has been left on the lees for the winter between fermentation in autumn and bottling in spring. This allows the wine to develop a fuller flavor and a slight carbonation that gives the wine additional freshness. For the most part, these wines are best drunk young, but in exceptional vintages certain Muscadet Sur Lie can be kept for several years and, in rare cases, decades."

  • Barbara Hay, examiner.com

    "The best examples of Melon are those from the appellation of Muscadet Sèvre et Maine and are labeled mise en bouteille sur lie, which means that they’re bottled directly off the lees without filtering. This process can produce flavorful wines that are soft and creamy with hints of citrus. The wine is typically steely, bone dry, light to lean in structure and body, with high acidity and an almost briny tang. “Sur lie” wines, which are unfined and unfiltered until bottling, have more body, flavor and substance."

  • MelonDeBourgogne.com

    "In a typical white wine fermentation, the grapes are pressed, the juice is moved into barrels or tanks, and the wine is racked off the lees, fairly early on. ("Racking" is the name for the process of siphoning or pumping the clear wine out of the tank, leaving behind the residual glop from the yeasts; the glop is known as the "lees".) Most white wines are racked immediately after completion of fermentation, and once or twice more after about 2 months. The lees at first racking are called the "gross lees", and at second racking are called "fine lees". The finest Muscadet wines are made in a method known as Sur Lies (translates to "with lees"). This method is where there is one or no early rackings done; the wine is fermented and aged in barrels on the lees. My understanding is that in the Appellation Controlee system in France, by law, a Muscadet wine may be racked off the gross lees, but must remain on the fine lees until March 1st. The wine may be bottled after that date, and may be filtered at bottling. When making a wine with the intent of fresh and fruity flavors, not intended for long-term aging, for example a Pinot Gris or Riesling, oak barrels are not likely to be used at all. When the wood characteristics are desired, for example a Chardonnay, aging is done in new small oak barrels, typically 60 gallon size. A new oak barrel imparts oak flavors only for the first few months of use, and afterwards is refered to as "neutral oak". Such a used barrel still helps the wine to age through evaporation, thus is not truly neutral, and may add desirable characteristics. Although the classic 60 gallon oak wine barrel is still in common use for Muscadet, they are almost always used barrels as the oak characteristic is not considered desirable. There are also wonderful Muscadet wines made in the "new world" style of truly neutral storage (typically glass lined concrete or stainless steel) tanks. These wines are more likely to show fresh fruity and aromatic characteristics, whereas oak aged will usually be softer and somewhat more complex."

  • bottlenotes

    "The Melon grape produces a high yield because it is quite resistant to frost, and the dry white wine it creates is fresh, uncomplicated and only lightly alcoholic (12%). A good Muscadet at once has fruity, floral and mineral tones. It pairs well with seafood and the mollusks from the Atlantic region of the Loire Valley and is perfect to drink as an aperitif on a summer evening."

  • The Passionate Foodie

    "Melon de Bourgogne is a relatively neutral grape, similar in that respect to Palomino. Yet winemakers discovered ways to transform the Melon into compelling wines. One of the most important techniques is sur lie aging, where the wine stays in contact with the lees after fermentation. Other techniques include oak barrel fermentation, bâtonnage (stirring the lees),and extended maceration. Muscadet is commonly light, dry, and may have a slight effervescence to them, which in the region is referred to as "pearls of youth." The flavors can include green apple, a certain yeastiness or even a touch of saltiness (like a manzanilla sherry). The classic pairing for Muscadet is oysters, though other seafoods work well too."


Some Melon de Bourgognes to Try

(About this list.)

One of the first things one notices about Muscadets is that most of the well-known makers produce quite a number of variant bottlings, often half a dozen each vintner, and often not drastically different in price within the same line; it is thus not a matter of saying get so-and-so's X-dollars bottling. The reason for those various bottlings is to capture single-vineyard terroir, so it isn't a matter of X being "better than" Y.

After some this'ing and that'ing, it seems to emerge as a consensus that there are four especially interesting makers who, between them, make 17 bottlings in our price range (and some others above it). We decided to omit one of the four simply because their bottlings seem harder to find than the others, but that maker—the eponymous Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin—is certainly worth your attention if you find some. The other three makers' Muscadets (again, at under $20) are listed below; we elected to segregate them by maker, rather than sort by price as we usually do.

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.

Jo Landron's Domaine De La Louvetrie Muscadets Sèvre et Maine

  • Sur Lie, $9 - $14.
    (Their basic bottling.)
         ($12.74 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    A very fresh nose here, with a green-white fruit character, and some lightly pithy fruit. I sense some real energy here. A full texture, vigorous as the nose indicated, a supple palate, full of the flesh of the vintage, but complemented by electric acidity and mineral edge. A very impressive wine. 16-17/20.

    Scents of white blossoms and apple along with saline and herbal aromas are characteristic of Muscadet. The electric acidity makes it incredibly fresh and crisp with a lime and briny, mineral-laden flavor profile.

    [Jo lLandron's] general blend. 2010: Very mild butter notes, quite fruit driven with yellow fruits and pear, decent length with light tannins. 2011: Mild mineral funk, brighter and crisper than the 2010. Attractive length.

    Scents of white blossoms and apple along with saline and herbal aromas are characteristic of Muscadet. The electric acidity makes it incredibly fresh and crisp with a lime and briny, mineral-laden flavor profile.

    The most affordable of Louvetrie’s [several] cuvées; its nearly electric acidity makes it incredibly crisp.

    The basic Muscadet from Joseph Landron is in fact anything but basic. It has great richness, concentration, apricot, sweet melon flavors and great tight acidity. Those flavors just linger deliciously. 89 points.

    Pale to medium straw in color, grapes for this were sourced from 45 year-old vines a warmer southern exposure; it spent 18 months in vat. It offers a fragrant green apple, quince and mineral nose that follows through nicely on the palate, rich yet bone dry at the same time. It shows good weight, acids and length, with a fine balance of fruit and mineral, with neither dominating. A harmonious wine for current consumption.


  • Cuvee Hermine d'Or, $13 - $15.

    Some quotations and facts:

    The Hermine d’Or designation is given to high scoring cuvées of Muscadet that are tasted blind. This 2007 from Joseph Landron has a delicious crispness, acidity layered with ripe green plums and green apples. This probably could age for 2–3 years. 90 points.

    Pale to medium straw in color, this particular cuvee comes from 35 hectares of 40+ year old vines grown in quartz-laden soil. It shows a little less mineral and a little more fruit than the previous selections, but again, the wine is bone dry, with quince, green apple and smoky mineral flavors and aromas. Balanced and harmonious, this is a complete wine that has benefited from some time in the bottle. It’s ready to drink, and nicely so, which is why we’ve purchased more for personal consumption.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (August 2008), 89 points.

    The 2007 Domaine de la Louvetrie Muscadet de Sevre et Main Sur Lie Hermine d’Or – from 40+ year old vines in gneiss, sand and chalk – smells of peach, fresh lime, and narcissus. Satiny in texture yet displaying the high acidity typical of its vintage (accentuated by dissolved CO2), it lays down impressively long, citric, saline, chalky traces.

    This almost clear Muscadet was my favorite from a small sampling that I recently reviewed. It opens with a fragrant wet stone bouquet with a hint of anise and lime. On the palate, this wine is light bodied, balanced, and flavorful. The flavor profile is a tasty mineral infused Anjou pear. The finish is dry and lingers nicely.

    Appetizing mineral, Bosc pear, and freshly dug soil aromas. Tangy and nutty in the mouth with a vivacious hit of sea spray.

    Banana peel, limestone and apricot on the nose. Tangy and fresh on the palate, with flavors of green apple peel and focused minerals. Solid stuff, but it didn’t stand out that much. 87 points.

    Lime-scented and bracing, with remarkably long-lasting flavor.

    Aged on its lees for twelve months and stirred to promote the development of carbon dioxide in the wine, the Hermine d’Or is a first taste of what happens when Muscadet is made to age. The lees contact gives the wine a significantly broader mouth feel than the Domaines or the Amphibolite and opens the door to pairings with richer fish served in sauce. From 12-40 year old vines. . . A review of the 2009 from TheWineDoctor.com: A fine and very expressive style here, with rich and fleshy white fruit on the nose, along with great minerality too. The palate is very stylish, fresh but also elegant and lithe, and seemingly very substantial too. Deep and intense, grippy, quite broad, but well framed by acidity and in possession of an appealing bitterness. Real appeal and also fine cellaring potential here. 17-17.5/20


  • Amphibolite Nature, $15 - $18.
         ($15.24 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Bright, effervescent, lifted and minerally, with a saline suggestion, overall very open, expressive and aromatic. A lovely concentration on the palate, showing great energy, full of texture, bright and fresh, with minerals and grip. Wonderfully challenging acidity here too. Great wine. It stands up very well to several grander cuvées, from 2011 and 2010, poured alongside. 16.5-17.5/20

    This seemed to be everywhere. Lots of local restaurants, wine shops, heck..even the Grande Epicierie and Cave Auge in Paris. Had a bottle the day before the visit with oysters at La Cigale in Nantes. Smooth expressive minerality with just a suggestion of licorice. A touch of mild iodine. Great citrus flavor. Excellent length. Way better than its $15.

    This intensely crisp wine is a glass of grapefruit juice, just pricked with apples. It is so fresh, tight, a delicious shellfish wine (think oysters with a shot of lemon). 87 points.

    Part of a (successful) attempt to create a low-alcohol (11% abv), more drinkable style that still maintains some seriousness, this is a lilting, pithy wine with a slight streak of severity. “The balance between lower alcohol and complexity was better at this site” Joseph told me; I think that’s what he said, anyway, as I was too busy being mesmerized by that mustache. Anyway, lemon peel dominates, but this inexpensive wine is crazy amounts of drinkable. Rating B+

    I find this wine inevitably drinkable in all situations. .  Amphibolite Nature is all green mango and dusty stones above a tart drink of sun, allegedly the expression of near-coastal France. So why is it a drink conjures the purple clouds on the horizon of Lake St. Clair after an evening of trolling for walleye, a languid stroll through the summer orchard, every thing green, soft curls of water caressing a sandy shore? Yes, it is good with clams and broth. It is perhaps at its finest while reading poetry by candlelight on the front porch, marveling at the sadness of a train’s whistle. I fear this wine has rooted itself into my being and my being will not be satisfied until the very last bottle is dry. How does this happen?

    [It] was one of the wines that didn't resonate as much with our tasters (and at $17 a pop, this was our most expensive option). The flavors were more delicate, and some tasters though it lacked structure. However, what was interesting about this juice was the texture—the effervescence came off as tiny little bubbles tickling the tongue. One taster even commented it tasted "quite like Champagne."

    The Amphibolite Nature is Landron’s entry level cuvée and is was named for the amphibole, a local metamorphic green stone prevalent in the soil it was grown in. Pale yellow in colour, aromas of apple, melon and sea salt minerals swirled about in my glass. Fermented in glass-lined cement vats, crisp granny smith apple and clean herbaceous elements flourished and were supported by a bright acidity in the light body. Sea salt minerals, stone notes and traces of zesty citrus composed the short, yet vivid finish. Clean and refreshing, this is a fantastic, easy drinking glass for the patio, dinner table or anywhere on a sultry summer’s day.

    Totally dry, lean and fruity – slightly citrusy – with the mineral notes well in the background. Excellent aperitif wine and good accompaniment to light hors d’oeuvres and appetizers.


  • Le Fief du Breil, $16 - $55.
         ($19.44 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Mustachioed Muscadet vigneron Jo Landron is widely regarded as one of the leading producers of the region, turning out consistently characterful wines such as this single-vineyard offering. Marked by notes of citrus and mineral, it's another wine that will likely age well—but is hard not to drink now.

    [W]e tasted back nearly ten years to a 2003 Domaine De La Louvetrie “Le Feif du Breil” Muscadet De Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie – it was strong for a Muscadet, powerfully rich and even a touch creamy with notes of nuts and honey, brine, and flint. This was not something to use just to wash down a plate of fresh oysters – it was something to marvel at slightly and then use to wash down a plate of fresh oysters.

    It is a bright style white wine with subtle lemony fruit in the nose and on the palette. It presents mineral and a creamy mouth feel with excellent body. Its acid-fruit balance creates a crisp finish but also a desire to take another sip. . . The term “Sue lie” on the label means on the lees. And that means the wine rests on its sediment from 6 – 12 months. It stays in contact with the dead yeast cells left over after fermentation. Landon ferments the juice naturally in glass lined, temperature controlled tanks. Despite the melon grape’s tendency toward neutrality, this process softens the wine and gives it depth. This wine is one of subtlety and finesse. It graces you. It hints.

    Beautiful Muscadet fruit nose. Lemon, pear. Balanced minerality and acidity. Super smooth. Lovely wine.

    [It] comes from a single plot. The wine has a pronounced white flower aroma and a mouthful of ripe fruit with soft acidity. It is delicious and the polar opposite of Muscadet’s DNA of tart lemony flavor and sea salt aroma.

    Aromas of sea spray, lemons, salted fish and sea shell. Fresh, tangy, briny on the palate with notes of sea shell, mussel shell and crushed rocks. Saline finish. Very oceanic. 88 points.

    This is from a single vineyard, Le Fief du Breil, and layers of complexity are built into the wine. It still has all the varietal muscadet characters: tangy, flinty, smoky and super dry, with salty nuances. The impression of minerality makes this an intriguing, moreish drink. Fabulous.

    Fresh and lively with aromas and lingering flavors of flowers, minerals and apples.

    [S]ea salt, citrus peel, minerals, stones, flower petals, all can show their face in Muscadet. And just as important is the wine's structure, bracing and fresh with firm acidity, sparkle and life. This is just the case with this wine, the Domaine de la Louvetrie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Le Fief du Breil 2005, although it also has a little fatness which perhaps reflects a slightly warmer vintage. On inspection it has a pale and shimmering hue, and the nose has plenty of character, with aromas of crushed rocks with a little sherbetty edge, alongside notes of thyme and sea salt. As I have commented it is rather fat on the palate, with a supple weight which I rather like, although it is perhaps not entirely typical and some hard-core Muscadetophiles might not take to it because of this. It has a lovely fresh character though, good definition and vigour, plenty of acidity and plenty of substance. That crushed rock-minerally note comes through on the palate here too. It is a delightful wine which worked well for me both as an aperitif and with a subsequent fish course. And it also reminded me that notes of herbs, in this case thyme, can ocasionally be found in these wines. Very good indeed. 17.5+/20


Marc Olliver's Domaine de la Pépière Muscadets de Sèvre et Maine

  • Sur Lie, $10 - $16.
    (Their basic bottling.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    The 2010 Domaine de la Pepiere billows with classic muscadet aromas of sea salt, lemon, lime and thyme. The initial palate impression is a bowl of ripe passion fruit, but that develops an added layer of pear, which, in kaleidoscope fashion, expands into a lime-flavored finish. Muscadet is rarely this complex. And this is only Olivier’s entry level wine!

    Fresh, bright aromatic minerally nose. Quite classic. The palate is taut, herby and has high acidity. Very fresh and stylish. Lovely wine. 89/100

    This unfiltered crisp white wine has extra flavor and body, reflecting the extended lees contact, hand harvesting, and natural yeast fermentation. Round and supple, with lemon, grapefruit, orange peel, white peach, and a mineral pop, the wine has complexity, depth, and a long finish, delicious when young but can age up to a decade, unusual for a Muscadet.

    The classic white bottling of Ollivier remains a benchmark for Muscadet. The ripeness on the nose shows off like salted apricots, with lavender, hay, citrus and a soapstone mineral quality. Ripe, focused and absolutely packed with mineral fulfillment.

    Hugely enjoyable subtle fruit-filled dry white with green apples and pears.

    Smooth, lemon/minerals, simple, enjoyable.

    Deep in color, this is a round and supple Muscadet with honeyed scents of orange and mineral salts. It grows more complete with air, as flavors of lotus root and pale white fruit fill out the finish, sustained by the wine’s acidity.

    The 2009 Domaine de la Pépière is the latest vintage of my go-to label, made by brilliant winemaker Marc Ollivier. Its tangy, slightly salty taste recalls the briny, savory scents of the nearby Atlantic Ocean.


  • Sur Lie Les Gras Moutons, $13 - $18.
    (This is not the same as the confusingly like-named "Cuvée Eden" verson just below.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Muscadet has gained prestige in recent years, as demonstrated by the new category of Muscadets de haute expression originating from specific terroirs. Marc Ollivier’s offering, from a parcel in the highly regarded vineyard of Les Gras Moutons, is subtle and complex, with aromas of lemony fruit, minerals, yeast, and fresh-cut hay. On the palate, the wine is crisp and refreshing, making it a perfect foil for food now, but it has an underlying concentration that promises the ability to age for some time to come.

    Fuller and fatter than say the Briords, good acids, some floral notes over white fruits, quite nice. B+/B

    “Crisp, stony, briny, and spiny” are the words used to describe this wine which hails from the Muscadet region in the Loire. 100% Melon de Bourgogne (the grape varietal found in Muscadet wines,) this wine has amazing length and versatility.

    He said: Served chilled. Crystal clear, pale oat straw color. Fairly strong citrus fruit aromas. Delicious lemon taste with lots of mineral and a unique crispness that continues right through the medium-long finish. The very end of the finish has just a slight upturn of tartness that I found absolutely delicious. The depth and rich taste of this wine made every sip get better and better. It’s both a surprise and a treat…it was so refreshing on a warm afternoon on the patio in sunny-southern-California. I loved it…a two thumbs up Loire Valley wine I recommend as a “Quality Wine at a Bargain Price. Definitely a wine I would buy by the case!!!
    She said: With the first taste I thought this was a delicious Sauvignon Blanc with plenty of flavor and body. Another sip brought the crispness, acidity and unique flavor into focus. Coupled with a creamy white cheddar the wine was absolutely delicious. At $14.00 it was an EXCELLENT buy.


    I was a big fan of the 2010. No let down here [2011]. Citrus fruit and attractive floral notes, soft minerality, playful balanced acidity. Quite good and one I’ll look for.

    This selection grows in a lieu-dit where the soils are based on gneiss, lending a different perspective on Muscadet. Carson Demmond commented that the minerality of the wine gave it a cavernous feel, as if wandering through a cave of stalactites flecked with minerals. What fruit character there is balances that chipped stone feel with lemon-lime fatness.

    “This wine’s old vines strive to survive,” says McCarus. “You can really taste the [gneiss] soil.”

    Bracing bouquet like a sea breeze and palate like mountain spring water flavoured with some lively green fruit and suffused with grainy minerals, lively acidity and hints of salt on the finish. I was expecting even crisper acidity but this may be a function of vintage. It called out for oysters and perhaps a little more body and flesh was needed to be ideal with cod in a quite acidic sauce; 16/20++.


  • Sur Lie Les Gras Moutons "Cuvée Eden", $14.
    (There is also a non-Eden bottling of this, listed just above.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    This is from schist, not granite, and it spends a year on lees before bottling. Complex, taut, herby, lemony nose with some savoury depth to the fruit. Finishes long with an attractive minerality. 90/100

    Devotees of Marc Ollivier and his wines have been watching the development of the Cuvée Eden with anticipation over the past few years. Once a blend of fruit taken from a small plot of vines in Les Gras Moutons, a favoured vineyard near Saint Fiacre, together with two plots of vines near Maisdon sur Sèvre where Marc is based. From the 2008 vintage, though, Marc has had enough vines - about 2 hectares of vines aged about 85 years (having been planted in 1926) in several different sections - to make a wine from fruit sourced purely from Les Gras Moutons; I had thought that with that move he would drop the Eden moniker, but glimpses of the 2008 and now also the 2009 labels suggest otherwise. The fruit for this wine was hand harvested, not common in the Muscadet appellations, fermented by wild yeasts at a cool temperature, before resting en cuve until bottling the following year after approximately seven months on the lees. The finished wine has a pale hue and, initially at least, a very clean and bright aromatic character. But then with a little more time in the glass it starts to show more evocative elements, notes of peach juice and sherbet, along with a very floral streak over a more stony base. On the palate a fresh and sappy style, full, quite juicy, broad and pervasive. Lots of lovely tingly minerality reflecting that sherbetty element found on the nose, with an appealingly bitter, lemon zest twist to it as well. Full of life despite the slightly fleshy, peachy character it possesses, especially into the finish which has a good, stony punch. This is delicious stuff - it will be difficult to keep my hands off my remaining bottles! 17.5 / 20

    ♣ Wine Spectator (May 2007), 88 points.

    Elegant, with lots of mineral and sea salt flavors, backed by a hint of lemon peel. The finish is long and fresh.

    [B]right aromatic character, kiwi, peach, flower - juicy, pervasive, kiwi, peach, lemon sorbet, dries the tongue and palate, fresh and sappy

    Working from the tiny village of Maisdon-sur-Sèvre, Marc Ollivier creates dramatic, worldly wines that could easily tangle with bottles four times the price. But Ollivier's base material is Melon de Bourgogne, the grape of Muscadet, planted to old field selections that show Ollivier's commitment to the great heritage of a modest wine. Ollivier may be Muscadet's king, but he has little to rely on for reputation beyond extraordinary care of extraordinary sites. Like Gras Mouton - one of Muscadet's grands crus, if you will. A rocky parcel of deeply fractured gneiss overlooking the Maine river, it is an epicenter of great if unheralded wine. This is all wound-up herb and steel - tarragon, stone, Meyer lemon peel and ripe white peach, with perfect acidity. Almost chewy in its texture. It could easily channel white Burgundy, and yet at $18 here's a wine that proves diligence and integrity are far more important than throwing money at the pursuit of greatness.

    Fuller and richer than most Muscadet with lemon, seashore and mineral tones, good sustain and nice balance. I marvel that folks still buy white Burgundy when this costs only $16. Superb with pesto pasta.

    Bright, crisp and fresh with stony, herbal flavors and a rich texture.

    Mark Ollivier is one of the leaders in his appellation, working with all pre-clonal vines and never rushing his young wines off their lees. Ollivier recently began bottling a separate cuvee from vines in a neighbor’s eroded gneiss soil, and the 2005 Muscadet de Sevre et Maine Sur Lie Cuvee Eden shows excellent promise that this site will convey special distinction. With aromas of fresh apple and flowers accompanied by pleasantly bitter notes of apple pit and citrus zest, it displays considerable richness of fruit and overt oyster-shell and wet stone mineral austerity, along with persistent pip and zest bitterness and nutty piquancy.

    Either this smelled like the lovely sea breeze I was inhaling on the island or then the sea breeze completely overwhelmed the aromatics: whether my nose was in the glass or out, it all smelled the same: all rocks and sea - lovely. Awesome purity, crispness and richness (for Muscadet) mixed together. Outstanding wine.

    "Les Gras Moutons - Cuvee Eden" .  . is from one of Olivier's most sacred terroirs. The wine was good but it lacked a little in the hard angles department which is what I love about Muscadet and particularly Clos des Briords. It had loads of minerality but seemed a bit soft at this point. On day 2 it did get more grippy and more structure was apparent but it seemed to remind me of the Luneau-Papin extended lees wines in that it needs time to fully express itself. I am down with that and will put a few in the cellar.


  • Sur Lie Clos des Briords, $14 - $20.

    Some quotations and facts:

    From 80 year old vines and granitic soils. Tight, intense, nervy and dense with strong lemony acidity. Mineralic with some herbal notes. Really bracing. 90/100

    The Clos des Briords is a small vineyard that has the oldest vines in the domaine's possession, dating back to 1930. It yields Muscadets of uncommon complexity and depth, and the 2010 Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Clos des Briords Vieille Vignes is a delicious example. It serves up an inviting aroma of lemon and a whiff of kerosene (don't be deterred – it's a very appealing scent in a wine). In the mouth, the wine is zesty and refreshing, but with an underlying richness that is rare to find in a Muscadet. . . The Clos des Briords is also rare among Muscadets in that it can be cellared for a number of years and will take on even more complexity as it ages, which is the litmus test of a great wine. The challenge is having the discipline to actually do the cellaring: It is tough to hold off from uncorking the Clos des Briords.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 92 points.

    Ollivier's 2009 Muscadet de Sevre et Maine Sur Lie Clos des Briords is as perfumed and lusciously-fruited a wine if its genre as you are likely to encounter, though that by no means precludes depth of mineral character. Scents of pear, clover, Persian melon, and fennel inform the nose and migrate to a buoyant yet expansive, mouthwateringly juicy palate tinged with a shimmering crystalline sense of minerality characteristic for this cuvee. This sensational value finishes with an uncanny combination of soothing refreshment and vibrancy. It is apt to be even more ravishing in another year or so and be worth following for at least 3-4. Mark Ollivier Pepiere is one of the most consistently outstanding sources of Muscadet and as such a purveyor of some of the wine world-s most outstanding values, not to mention a grower constantly striving to reach new levels of excellence, as the wines at hand irrefutably demonstrate. This vigneron is on a roll!

    It has a good colour in the glass, bright but pale. The nose is fresh and defined, showing lemon-citrus and pear fruits, all gritty and aromatic, and this certainly has a very confident style. It has a very slightly saline note, but perhaps it is a slightly too rich and bold style for this character to show through too strongly. This is followed by rather a full character on the palate, with a rich depth to it, but with an appealing substance and firm, full and rather solid acid backbone. There is nothing filigree or delicate here, this is a wine with tangible extract and a big, dense, minerally core. The lively zestiness of youth has given way to a firmer, more substantial character on the palate. Good now, with solid minerality, really clamping down on the finish, and full of future potential. A different style to 2009, which I think I preferred very slightly (having been sucked in by the ripe exuberance of the wine) but this vintage should keep classicists, and those looking to age the wine, very happy indeed. 17.5 / 20

    Lovely light golden color and amazing aroma of wild flowers and citrus fruit. On the palate this wine is mineral, crisp and fresh with hints of lemon, lime and aromatic violets. Light to medium in the body, it brings symphony of flavors to your palate. Perfectly balanced acidity makes it perfect match for shellfish or other seafood. Long finish makes you long for more. Thanks to a quality vines, low yields and very special vinification process, this wine can age for decade or more. And that can’t be said about every Muscadet.

    If there's only one Muscadet offered on a wine list, it's likely to be Domaine de la Pepiere's Clos des Briords. This old-vine cuvée from star vigneron Marc Olivier is a bright, clean, dry and citrusy wine with particularly bracing acidity. It's a great aperitif or companion to shellfish.

    Fresh, lots of clean seashore elements, touch of saline, pretty and clean. Very tasty.

    I just finished a bottle of Pepiere “Clos de Briords” Vielles Vignes 2009. The “Clos de Briords” vineyard is a single plot of pure schist. Winemaker Marc Olliver’s vines were planted in the 1930s, leading to a wine of phenomenal depth and concentration. Every time I taste this wine I am struck by its faint minty aromatics. This is not the strong spearmint often associated with new French Oak but a softer aroma, akin to a mint leaf floating in a cup of tea. This aromatic is joined by strong notes of lime and wet stones (Muscadet is known for bringing its soils into the glass). The richness of the palate does little to belie its lees aging but the finish bursts with mouthwatering acidity. Some lesser Muscadets that I have recently tasted have lacked some acidity due to the particularly warm nature of the 2009 vintage. I have no doubt that this wine has at least a decade ahead of it. Despite its obvious aging potential it is beautifully fresh now and at 16 bucks a bottle there is no reason to wait. You can buy a few and try them at your leisure over the next few years without skipping meals this week.


  • Clisson, $17 - $30.

    Some quotations and facts:

    Granitic soils; 2 years on lees. Creamy aromatic nose with delicate herbaceous notes. The palate is broad, nervous and complex with good acidity and a wonderful long minerally finish. Precise and delicious. "Not a classic Muscadet," says Marc Olivier, "but for me it is a classic Loire white wine." Should age well. 93/100

    Beautifully aromatic with amazingly vivid citric aromas, almost like crystallized citrus fruits but with without their sweetness. Leesy and mineral. Crisp, rocky, wonderfully intense but never crossing the line to become painful. This is actually a very friendly Muscadet despite all the citric sensations.

    This wine was formerly knwn as "Granite de Clisson", but the always amusing French wine laws have now been changed to establish cru designations for the better Muscadets, which is in itself a good thing, but they chose to base them on commune names only (of which "Clisson" is one) and not on the distinctive terroirs that were the very reason for creating the cru designations in the first place.

    [T]he 2009 Clisson has a pale hue - nothing unusual about that considering the cool-climate origins - and yet this belies the hugely expressive nose which is minerally and sherbetty, stuffed with crushed rocks and sliced lemon citrus zest, with just a little hint of creamy substance in the background perhaps denoting the richness of the vintage. It doesn't have the profound intensity of Andre-Michel Brégeon's 2004 Gorges, but it comes close, despite the fact that Brégeon's wine spent about double the amount of time on the lees that this one has. The start of the palate is fresh and sappy, and yet laden down with substance and breadth. Through the middle it shows this weight more clearly, although this comes with a fine, precise, very linear acid backbone which persists through to the finish. It is lively and substantial, with a very long, sappy, citrus-infused finish. There are beautiful tones of stone fruit and white pepper swirling around in the centre of the wine, which has quite savoury tones. Deliciously complex, this is an exciting, vigorous, beautifully composed wine which is a delight to drink now, despite my occasional twinge of infanticide-related guilt as I think this will go for many, many years in the cellar. 18.5 / 20

    Marc Ollivier grows this at a two-acre parcel of 60- to 90-year-old vines planted on the granite of the Massive Armoricain; he and several other growers on this terroir now create special bottlings under the Granite de Clisson label. This wine ages for 24 months on the lees, developing a brilliant depth of flavor that sets it apart from its siblings. The color is platinum, the scent a compelling mix of lime, orange blossom, fig and sage. There's a brothy richness, like an infusion of lobster shells, a ripe juiciness that's focused and firmed up along its silken texture. Destined to become a classic... 95 points.

    The 2009 Clisson from Domaine de la Pépière is a superb example of the vintage, with a racy spine of acidity that is fairly rare in this riper and slightly softer vintage in Muscadet. The 2009 Clisson offers up a reserved and very classy nose of bread fruit, lemon zest, gentle leesy tones, straw and kaleidoscopic minerality. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish and beautifully delineated, with excellent mid-palate depth, bright acids, lovely complexity and laser-like focus on the poised and very minerally finish. This needs some time in the cellar, but is a stellar bottle of young Muscadet. 2015-2035." 94 Points.

    Lovely balance, good acidity, great balance, smooth. Loved the 09 and this [2010] should not be missed.

    I'm also a huge fan of this wine - it has more depth than the other excellent Pepiere wines. I bought a bunch and wish I bought more - it's one you can't have too much of, and will age indefinitely. The 2005 was also great, but the 2007 is the best muscadet I've had. Possibly the best qpr white in the world.

    [Ollivier's] powerful 2009 Granite de Clisson is rich and complex -- good with cheese, he says -- while the not-yet- released 2010, with a lemon-lime, savory character, is better for fish.

    2007: I liked all of the vintages represented in this tasting, but something about 2007 speaks to me. Aromas of peach blossom, guava, perfume, orange peel, honeyed tea. The palate is rich, deep and full of creamy peach, guava and orange fruit, but of course the zesty acid is there for balance. Bracing minerals provide backbone. The depth of this makes me think it could age for a decade . (91 points)
    2009: Aromas of white flowers, intense minerals, grapefruit rind. The palate is intense and deep, full of pineapple and mango fruit, but the minerality is so bracing that you never forget you’re drinking Muscadet. Really incredible with oysters. (90 points)
    2010: Green melon, lemon and apricot on the nose. The palate is fresh but lush. Tangy, grippy acid, flavors of green apple peel, candied ginger and salt. Long and full. (89 points)



Guy Bossard's Domaine de l'Écu Muscadets Sèvre et Maine

  • Cuvee Classique, $14 - $19.
    (Their basic bottling.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Intriguing aromas of yeast, Bartlett pear, cereal grains, and wildflower honey kept our nose in the glass the longest. Nutty and tangy in the mouth with an appetizing bitter, lemon pith finish.

    Appearance: Clear and bright, medium-minus gold, thin film instead of legs. Nose: Clean, developing, medium-plus intensity of apples (green and yellow), as well as some sweet spice and a hint of nuttiness. Slight autolytic character. Palate: Dry, high acidity, medium body, medium alcohol, medium-plus flavour intensity, with notes of apple, sour citrus, some nail varnish, and stony minerality. Sour finish, with medium length. Conclusions: This is a good quality wine – crisp with minerality and strong tart flavours, but also with creaminess and body. The balance is slightly on the sour end of the spectrum, and the intensity of flavour is supported with high acidity, but that leaves the body and alcohol behind. A longer length and milder sour notes might have pushed this up to a very good. I think at two years old, this wine has potential for ageing, perhaps to improve over the next three years.

    Bossard, like may of the great Muscadet producers, makes the perfect antidote for many of the heavy handed wines that are just now going out of style. This is the type wine where what isn’t there is just as important as what is there. No heaviness, no extraction, no tricks, no pretense (unlike this sentence). Just pure beautiful wine.

    [Google-translated from French:] Its pale yellow crystalline reveals a bouquet of notes and mineral salt on citrus background. Mouth, opulent, is provided with a frame acid lime. Fresh and balanced, this wine is perfect for a plate of seafood or white meat.

    Guy Bossard from Domaine de l’Ecu is one of the local stars. I found tonight’s Cuvee Classique a little disappointing, but look out for their more premium outputs - Expression Orthogneiss and Granite - which are still fairly reasonable. It’s probably getting a bit long in the tooth, truth be told, and ought to have been hauled from the cellar a year or two ago. Very pale. Muted nose of citrus and grape. Grape? I mean, why shouldn’t a wine smell and taste of grapes - after all, they are made from them. But still…..it seemed kind of strange to detect in a wine. Dry palate, but with the acid fading a little, leaving a slight mustiness. Strong refreshing slaty minerality. Quite neutral, and good with food.

    PRO: This is classic Muscadet – sharp, crisp and clean with a salty sea punch. Just perfect.
    AM: Maybe I cheated because I tried this one with oysters, but how could I resist? It had a nostalgia-inducing smell of dying wisteria blossoms and tasted of peach and alcohol (more than most wines). Sadly, it finished quickly despite my wish for it to linger.


    Flavorful cut hay and lime citrus, leesy, slight bitterness with a solid mineral core and lengthy finish. Bossard’s entry level muscadet is pure fun. Not as fully mineral driven as Briords or Expression de Granite but really quite delicious.

    Grower Guy Bossard names some of his wines for the kinds of soil they grow in. The Classique is a blend of several vineyards, meant for drinking young. The other two are from the named soils and are a bit more austere – mineral-structured rather than fruit-driven – and can take a little bottle age. Very different from each other, and all very good drinking.


  • Domaine De l'Ecu Muscadet "Gneiss", $17 - $25.
         ($18.24 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    [It] has a good depth of colour in the glass. On the nose the character is a mouth-watering one, full of lovely sour fruit, with lots of dry and minerally elements, overall coming across as quite challenging and assertive, even a little salty. There follows lots of substance and texture on the palate, a curtain of primary flesh in the beginning which then parts to reveal a more minerally, gritty, lemon-orange peel and sherbet character. Great vibrancy and amazing, incisive lift from the laser-like acids and sharp-edged, stony minerality. It's just how a 2008 should be; big, polished, dry and yet very savoury, with a pleasing quality of fruit on the finish. And this would certainly cellar well. Thank heavens for gneiss! 17.5+ / 20

    The Gneiss is a clear, straw-color wine; its distinctive "crushed seashells" and chalk character shouts "Muscadet!" White fruit and snappy citrus surround chalky minerality on the palate, clean, refreshing and long. Young and still showing primary fruit flavors, it might gain more minerally complexity with a year or three, but it's already fine.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (August 2010), 90 points.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (date unknown), 91 points.

    The Melon de Bourgogne grape often produces Muscadet wines that are delicious but relatively simple. Not true of those made by famed winemaker Guy Bossard, who creates some of the best and most complex Muscadets you can find. This one has a layered palate of citrus, lees, and toast with prominent mineral notes. A superb wine at an incredible price!

    The L'Ecu 2009 Muscadet de Sevre et Maine Sur Lie Expression de Gneiss offers cool scents and generous juiciness of herb-tinged melon and grapefruit on a surprisingly lush palate. But the march of the minerals begins midway through and won't quit. Impingements of salt, chalk, and iodine lend savor to a finish that practically squeezes your salivary glands. It's impossible to taste - much less drink - these wines without a smile.

    The wine is outstanding, offering up a deep and complex nose of bread fruit, sea salts, lovely leesy tones, dried flowers and a gentle smokiness in the upper register. On the palate the wine is medium-full, crisp and minerally, with lovely complexity, fine focus and excellent length and grip on the vibrant finish. This is delightful Muscadet and another revelation for the difficult 2011 vintage. 89 Points.

    Very complex and remarkably open, especially when drunk next to L’Ecu’s other cuvées. The minerality and acidity are there, but the texture is richer. This has an incredible finish — spiced lemon bitters.

    Winegrower Guy Bossard makes separate muscadet cuvees based on the soil types of his various vineyards, all of which are farmed according to biodynamic principles. His wines tend to be richer, fatter and riper than most muscadets, with juicy fruit flavors and an inherent mineral quality that gives them verve. ***

    The real action for me is in the Expression series . . . the Gneiss and [the] Granite. Though they are both supple and flow in a manner that seems unique to minimally treated wines, the former is the softer of the two, with light touches of vanilla and wax woven through the lemon notes. . . They are both truly like Chablis, though with less bone density, more ethereal. You think you've grasped it, then it slips away. What is that? Brown sugar? Underripe pineapple? Seeds? Hard to know. The fruit is just so complex, almost crunchy and juicy simultaneously, but difficult to place terms and analogues on. This is what great Muscadet teaches -- nothing in the end belongs to anything else. That there are no cognates.


  • Domaine De l'Ecu Muscadet "Orthogneiss", $18 - $25.

    Some quotations and facts:

    The Orthogneiss is almost identical in color [to the Gneiss], clear straw with just a touch more yellowish hue. Sadly, the hoped-for comparison of minerality is stymied by an offputting volatile acidity in this bottle, "dusty" and metallic high-toned aromatics that eventually blow off, mostly, to reveal a somewhat more fruit-driven wine, lemon-scented honeydew melons and currants cloaking a stony minerality that's closer to slate than chalk. Singing acidity and intriguing minerality make me want to like the wine, but lingering volatility keeps intruding.

    f wines were paintings, this would be a watercolour. One of the most minerally noses ever: quartz and chalk along with dried lemon. Richer and smoother than usual – surely the vintage speaking – but still subtle and nuanced, possessed of ample acidity and perfect balance. Starts off tasting of green apple- and lemon-flavoured rainwater, turns drier, quartzier and even a little bitter-herbal with a hint of paraffin lingering through the long finish. Beautiful Muscadet. The cork is long, usually a sign that a wine is ageable, and this one certainly is.

    This pungent Muscadet balances rich fruit with bright acidity. We smelled honeysuckle and chamomile. There's a briney minerality to this medium-bodied white, and flavors of Granny Smith apples, Anjou pears, tart lemon peel, and musky honey. czIt's puckeringly tart and would pair well with shrimp scampi or shrimp pad thai, or possibly a lemony roast chicken.

    I was struck by how much the wine expressed the earth in which its vines were grown. The grapes themselves seemed to act as a vehicle for communicating the wines terroir. . . I was focused on notes of minerality (imagine driving down a gravel road or falling face down in the parking lot of the pub), chalk, earth, and citrus. The group also suggested talc (perfect!), straw, and mushroom. We agreed that this wine offered an above average length (a sure sign of quality), medium body, and medium plus intensity of flavour. This wine is drinking perfectly well now, but has the potential to develop over the next five years.

    Bossard's top wines always need a lot of time to open up. When drinking them young it's not a bad idea to decant them several hours before hand. I didn't do that this time, and I was surprised at the immediately beautiful and expressive nose. Absolutely clean and pure, very fresh, and vibrant with lemon, herbs like anise and mint, and stones. The palate is not as expressive, still pretty tough and rocky, and showing wafts of yeasty cellar that come and go. If there is fruit in there, or flowers or herbs, they're buried under the rock. I don't see why this wine shouldn't evolve into the complete package, but I don't have enough experience with it in other vintages to feel confident in my predictions. There is lots of energy here though, and again, the nose is just beautiful.

    The 2002 Orthogneiss Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie layers wet stone, white flowers, and some surprising spiciness in a rich wine that’s still elegant and clean.

    Deep gold color, with rich texture and herbal aromas.

    I tasted the amazing 2010 ‘Orthogneiss’ Muscadet du Sevre & Maine from Domaine de L’Ecu in the Loire Valley, which was as steely and austerely minerally as an uncompromising dry Riesling from a very cool region. .  How does minerally actually taste? I describe it as a saltiness, most obvious in the aftertaste . . . and if you like dry Riesling the chances are you’ll find them at least interesting, and possibly as exciting as I did.

    More concentrated, more minerally, more bitter than the cuvee classique. Quite confronting on first taste, but I warmed to it very quickly. Would go well with oysters. Some development ahead of it. 90+ points.

    Light straw color. Lots of tropical fruit on the nose, papaya, mango and honey, but somehow it's still really bright. Super creamy on the palate with intense acid. Lots of body, but tons of minerals and acid for balance. A very impressive muscadet that would be great to taste again in ten years. 89+ points


  • Domaine De l'Ecu Muscadet "Granite", $19 - $26.
         ($18.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    The always amusing French wine laws have now been changed to establish cru designations for the better Muscadets, which is in itself a good thing, but they chose to base them on commune names only and not on the distinctive terroirs that were the very reason for creating the cru designations in the first place. One source reports that "individual vignerons may continue to use terroir-related terms for individual cuvées", so the name of this wine may remain as is (whereas Domaine de la Pépière's "Granite de Clisson" is now just "Clisson"). Note also that while Guy Bossard has sold the Domaine, he is still a strongly contributing consultant to it.

    Pale straw in colour, and not a particularly expressive nose. Rather, it is the palate that seduces. Clean and crisp, with a fine mineral backbone. Slight chalkiness, with mollusk notes flavouring the acidity. Perhaps that’s mollusk-enticing notes. For with mussels it is a terrific match. The refreshing finish is of outstanding length, holding to a mild, but lingering aftertaste of citrus. This wine is sophisticated in its freshness and restraint, elegantly subtle, and a wine to make a regular part of your forays into the wines of the Loire.

    [I]t was Guy’s Muscadet “Expression de Granite” – so fresh and mineral and tingling – that won everyone’s hearts, minds and palates.

    Complexity is a word that is rarely invoked when describing Muscadet but it would not be misplaced with this wine; the Expression de Granite is a powerful wine with a bracing acidity and layers of flavors, though its dominant feature is minerality. Indeed, the "Granite" (a specific Muscadet soil type) more than lives up to its name.

    [Google-translated from French:] Very pure nose in any discretion and restraint. Notes of mango, peach and pear nose first; highly saline notes shell oysters and seaweed second nose. Attack even less beading on the vintage Orthogneiss (which is already very light), mineral notes (+ + + + +) and notes of seaweed, lemon. Mouth much less fat than the [Orthogneiss] but much more slender and air, more tense, "on the edge" without ever showing a marked acidity; bitterness on the finish that stretches .... A wine of mad righteousness, a wine that I like but is still on the reserve. Become large bottle, waiting.

    What sets the Bossard wines apart is they are not merely good-for-Muscadet. With the exception of the basic "Cuvée Boss'Art," which seems to be a 'what-do-we-do-with-the-leftovers' kind of wine, they all possess a chiseled grace that places them among the most enjoyable whites I tasted at the Renaissance this year. What struck me most was the aromatic focus of the vintage. All three soil-specific wines were terrific, but the "Expression de Granite" in particular had a totally captivating cologne & graham cracker nose. Say what you will about the necessity of aging these wines; they're showing wonderfully right this second.

    Mineral, bone-crushing linear drive. Summer and the beach and salads and oysters and drinking straight from the bottle.

    Current winner of the longest name wine award this year, you’ll think the name is short when you taste this wonderful wine. Still a baby, it will develop and expand for many years. A lighting bolt of a wine that in all its leanness still explodes on the palate. Concentrated mineral essence with a delicate balance.

    Cold, hard, saltwater drenched rock with a splash of lime. It’s right up there with Briords for my favorite of muscadets.

    Powdery mineral aromas (we would call it gypsum) over some attractively crisp apple-pear fruit.


For a Splurge

With the wines—even the better, more terroir-drive ones—being so modestly priced, it takes something awfully special in the way of Muscadets to justify a splurge-level expense. Of those that are reasonably available, there are several from which it is hard to choose (they all get fine reviews), so we'll list the lot:



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