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Posts Tagged ‘Muscadet’

I spent much of the weekend entering my wines into cellartracker. Though it is rather time consuming process, I had come to the conclusion that I need to do something to track my wines. In the process of getting organized, I realized I had more Muscadet than I had thought. I decided to do something about that and set aside a bottle from Luneau-Papin. I thought it would be fun to cook something on Sunday that might pair well with it. I have had the wine on three previous occasions and really liked it. It’s an interesting example of the varietal in that it offers just a touch of residual sugar. It spent 42 months on the lees — it’s a bit rich and almost creamy, but brings all the acidity you would expect from a Muscadet.

There’s nothing like Muscadet with fresh oysters or clams and it is always a great choice for seafood dishes. That said, the varietal is very versatile and pairs well with many things beyond just seafood. I happen to love it with spicy Asian dishes.  A few weeks back, I made curry laksa — and was eager to make it again. The Pueri Solis seemed like a perfect pairing. The spice would work well with the touch of residual sugar and acidity. In addition, the soup’s broth has some sour and citrus flavors (in part from the fish sauce, lime juice and red curry paste) that would pair well with the wine’s citrus notes.

Unfortunately, this time my curry laksa was not quite as good as the previous effort. I made the chicken broth from scratch, buying a whole chicken and cooking it with water, a couple of celery stalks, a couple of carrots, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, lemongrass, a little fish sauce, soy, mirin, fresh thyme, curry powder, tumeric and various other spices. After the chicken was cooked, I removed it and let it cool and then pulled all of the meat. I put the broth through a strainer and put it aside.

In a dutch oven, add some curry paste and oil over medium heat. After about 7 minutes, add shallot, ginger and garlic. After 5 minutes, add the chicken, serrano pepper, green onions and spices (curry powder, tumeric, poultry seasoning). Add chicken broth, 2 star anise, 2 cloves and a small handful of chopped cilantro and simmer for 30 minutes. At this point, you could also add shrimp if you like and simmer until cooked (about 5 minutes). Add coconut milk, more cilantro and baby bok choi and let sit for 10 minutes.  In a bowl, place bean sprouts, green onion, cooked Chinese noodles and bean thread, add the soup and 1/2 of a boiled egg.

The last time I made this, I only used chicken thighs that I dry rubbed with curry, tumeric, cumin and salt and then grilled. I thought the meat was much more flavorful and resulted in a better bowl of soup. I was able to improve this on the second night by adding some grilled chicken that I had marinated. I also opted for David Chang’s Slow-Poached egg that puts the standard hard-boiled to shame.

The Muscadet did pair very well, though a riesling, grüner or chenin blanc might also be good options.

The Luneau-Papin Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Pueri Solis 2005 is imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Pierre and his wife Monique are the seventh generation to run the domaine, though their wines are more likely to be found listed under Luneau-Papin or even Pierre Luneau, than under the estate’s true name (Domaine Pierre de la Grange). There is a broad and varied range of cuvées produced at Luneau-Papin, which in many cases reflect vineyard or terroir of origin.They have approximately 40 hectares of vines, with 38 hectares planted to Melon de Bourgogne and the remaining 2 hectares committed to red varieties. The vineyards are situated in Le Landreau, Vallet and La Chapelle Heulin, about 20 kilometres from Nantes itself. The vines average forty-five years although some are well into their seventh decade.

Related posts:
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Le L d’Or 2005
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sevre et Maine L D’Or 2002
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sevre et Maine “3″ 2005
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Granite de Clisson 2007
Domaine de la Pépière “Vieilles Vignes” Clos des Briords Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2007
Michel Brégeon Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2002

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This weekend I spent a little time downstairs picking out the wines for Thanksgiving.Thanksgiving is always a great time for wine. For me, it is a holiday spent with family and loved ones that come together to share a special meal. It is a time to raise a glass and a time to reflect and give thanks. All of this is facilitated and made more memorable by wine.

Thanksgiving is also a time for endless columns on wines to serve at Thanksgiving. I hope this isn’t one of them — all I will say is that the wines I chose this year are wines I enjoy and have meaning. They also very food friendly. Muscadet is one of the great food wines that also works well as an apéritif. Once food is served, the Huet Vouvray Le Mont Sec will bring weight, richness, complexity and acidity to the table. For red wine, a lot of people propose Zinfandel as the ultimate Thanksgiving wine, but I think Beaujolais (it’s a harvest wine and the tart and sour cranberry characteristics make it a natural fit). This year, the last bottle was selected as an homage to Marcel Lapierre. Here is the lineup for Thanksgiving 2010:

Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sevre et Maine L D’Or 2002
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Mont Sec 2007
Domaine du Vissoux Pierre Chermette Beaujolais Cuvee Traditionnelle VV 2009
Jean & Agnes Foillard — Morgon Cuvée Corcelette Vieille Vigne 2007
Jean Foillard Fleurie 2007
Marcel Lapierre Morgon 2009

Related posts:
Alice Feiring on Marcel Lapierre
Eric Asimov on Marcel Lapierre

Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Le L d’Or 2002
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005

More Thanksgiving Recommendations:
Arianna Occhipinti Il Frappato Sicilia IGT 2006
Rhys Pinot Noir
Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py 2007
Daniel Bouland Morgon Vieilles Vignes 2008
Sean Thackrey Pleiades XVIII Old Vines
Jacques Puffeney Arbois Poulsard “M” 2006
André Perret Condrieu Chéry 2006
André Perret Saint Jospeh 2007
Gerard et Pierre Morin Sancerre Chêne Marchand 2007
Pascal and Nicolas Reverdy Sancerre Cuvée Les Coûtes 2008
Lopez de Heredia Rioja Tondonia Rosé 1998

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Domaine Pierre de la Grange is considered one of the best domaines of the Nantais, a region that marks the most northwestern point of all France’s vineyards. Pierre and his wife Monique are the seventh generation (the family has owned the property for more than 200 years) to run Domaine Pierre de la Grange, though their wines are more likely to be found listed under Luneau-Papin or even Pierre Luneau, than under the estate’s true name. They have approximately 40 hectares of vines, with 38 hectares planted to Melon de Bourgogne and the remaining 2 hectares committed to red varieties. The vineyards are situated in Le Landreau, Vallet and La Chapelle Heulin, about 20 kilometres from Nantes itself. The vines average forty-five years although some are over seventy.

There is a broad and varied range of cuvées produced at Luneau-Papin, which in many cases reflect vineyard or terroir of origin. The leading cuvées are the L d’Or (a weighty expression of Melon de Bourgogne) and the Semper Excelsior Clos des Noëlles.

L d’Or is sourced from vines more than 45 years old grown on granite and mica terroirs in Vallet, one of the Sèvre et Maine communes. The vines are cared for along the lines of lutte raisonnée, and are nourished with just a little organic manure. The fruit is harvested by hand, pressed using pneumatic equipment, and the juice is then allowed to settle before a four week temperature-controlled fermentation by indigenous yeasts, regulated to 20ºC. There is also a warmer macération pelliculaire, a period of skin contact, at 30ºC. The wine is then stored sur lie for nine months before bottling.

The nose is a bit reserved with some citrus, mineral and floral notes. It’s a bit more revealing on the palate. Stony minerality with citrus, orchard fruit and some creamy almond notes. Rich and broad, good acidity and complexity.  A great example of what some age can do with Muscadet — and I wouldn’t hesitate to sit on this for another 5-7 years (or more). Recommended and an outstanding value at $22 a bottle. 12% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner.

Related posts:
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Le L d’Or 2005
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Pepiere Muscadet Sevre et Maine “3″ 2005
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Granite de Clisson 2007
Domaine de la Pépière “Vieilles Vignes” Clos des Briords Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2007
Michel Brégeon Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2002

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Muscadet is produced at the western end of the Loire Valley, near the city of Nantes in the Pays de la Loire region neighboring the Brittany  Region. More Muscadet is produced than any other Loire wine. The Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine sub-appellation is the most productive and notable region of Muscadet, producing more than three quarters of the region’s entire production. In fact, more AOC Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine is produced on a yearly basis than in any other single AOC in the entire Loire Valley.

It is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, often referred to simply as melon. The grape variety used to produced Muscadet, Melon de Bourgogne, is a relatively neutral grape. Winemaking techniques have involved in the region to adapt to the grape’s limitation and bring out more flavor and complexity. The most well known of these techniques is sur lie aging, where the wine stays in contact with the dead yeast cells left over after fermentation (the lees).  The technique was discovered, almost accidentally, in the early 20th century. Traditionally Muscadet producers would set aside a barrel of wine for special occasions, such as a family wedding. This “honeymoon barrel”, as it became known, would take on more flavor and texture due to it contact with the lees.  Through this process, autolysis occurs which contributes to a creamy mouthfeel that may the wine seem to have a fuller body. The release of enzymes during this process inhibits oxidation is also said to improve the aging potential of the wine.  During this process, the wine is usually not racked for several months. While in many wines, the lack of racking could have the undesired consequences of developing off flavors or other wine faults. However, the relative neutrality of the Melon de Bourgogne grape works in the favor of the Muscadet wine and poses minimal risk to developing off flavors.

Many top producers have been experimenting more and more with sur lie aging. Top producers like Marc Ollivier, Pierre Lunea-Papin, André-Michel Brégeon, and others are making great wines that showcase specific terroirs within Muscadet, and often involve lees aging for longer periods than are allowed under the appellation rules. In this case, Bregeon’s Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2002  spent 85 months (over 7 years) on its lees before bottling. Michel first began experimenting with extended aging sur lie in 1982 and bottled his first wine using this technique in 1985. The results provide further evidence that Melon de Bourgogne is a noble grape.

I opened this bottle with some rather high expectations as Kermit Lynch wrote this is the most exciting Muscadet you will ever taste. I tasted this side by side with the Pepiere Muscadet Sevre et Maine “3″ 2005. Both wines are outstanding and deserve time in the cellar, but I have to say that I would give the edge to Marc Olivier’s “3” — of course that is my own subjective opinion, that said both wines are worth seeking out. They also offer tremendous value (in this case a that spent over 7 years on its lees for around $20).

Highly recommended. 12% alcohol. Imported by Kermit Lynch.

Related posts:
Pepiere Muscadet Sevre et Maine “3″ 2005
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Le L d’Or 2005
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Granite de Clisson 2007
Domaine de la Pépière “Vieilles Vignes” Clos des Briords Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2007

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Domaine Pierre de la Grange is considered one of the best of the Nantais, a region that marks the most northwestern point of all France’s vineyards. Pierre and his wife Monique are the seventh generation of to run Domaine Pierre de la Grange, though their wines are more likely to be found listed under Luneau-Papin or even Pierre Luneau, than under the estate’s true name.

They have approximately 40 hectares of vines, with 38 hectares planted to Melon de Bourgogne and the remaining 2 hectares committed to red varieties. The vineyards are situated in Le Landreau, Vallet and La Chapelle Heulin, about 20 kilometres from Nantes itself. The vines average forty-five years although some are well into their seventh decade.

There is a broad and varied range of cuvées produced at Luneau-Papin, which in many cases reflect vineyard or terroir of origin. The leading cuvées are the L d’Or and the Semper Excelsior Clos des Noëlles. I wrote about the Excelsior a couple of weeks back. Not a very expressive nose, but thought what it brought in flavor more than made up for whatever it lacked in aromatics.

The L d’Or is more aromatic with citrus and mineral notes. It is also a little more ripe on the palate. Citrus, orchard fruit with mineral flavors and a some herbs. Good weight and acidity.  This was very good as well, but for me the Excelsior had an ethereal quality that really captured my attention. Still, the L d’Or certainly delivers and I would certainly recommend it — and would not be surprised if many preferred it over the Excelsior. These wines are still young and have a lot of life, so it will be very interesting to see how they show in another 3-4 years. Given the quality of the wine, this is also a very good value at $18 a bottle. 12% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner.

Related post:
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Granite de Clisson 2007
Domaine de la Pépière “Vieilles Vignes” Clos des Briords Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2007

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It’s still early February, but I am confident that my resolution to drink more Muscadet was one of my best New Year’s resolutions to date — and also one of the easiest to fulfill. As I wrote in a previous post, no survey of Muscadet would be complete without experiencing the wines from Domaine de la Pépière, home to Marc Ollivier.

In 2005, Ollivier produced his first “Granite de Clisson” — a periodic bottling of 60-90 year old vines.  It is aged on the lees for 24 months and so it cannot be labeled “Sur Lie” as it violates the current regulations which permit only nine months of aging. Ollivier takes his time in the vineyard and the cellar. Ripening is slower, and the longer hang-time before harvest allows for optimal maturity. He hand harvests (a rarity in the region), uses natural yeasts, waits for the wine to finish and bottles with a very light filtration.

The 07 Granite de Clisson is young (it is expected to benefit from 10-15 years of aging), but already showing very well. Golden yellow color with aromas of citrus and wet stones with some floral, saline and leesy notes. On the palate, great richness, depth and intensity — pure and ripe citrus and pear with honey, tarragon and a little spice. Round with bright acidity and minerality.

I thought this was more muscular than the Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005, which isn’t to say I wasn’t extremely fond of this as well, it’s just stylistically different. I’m not sure I could say which one I liked better and don’t think I prefer one to the other. Both wines are magnificent. Choosing between the two would just depend on my mood. As good as this is showing right now, it will be extremely interesting to watch this develop over the coming years. I hope I can find the patience and restraint to keep my hands off of it.  This is worth seeking out and a great value at about $20 a bottle. 12% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.

Related posts:
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Domaine de la Pépière “Vieilles Vignes” Clos des Briords Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2007

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I made a few wine resolutions for 2010. One of them was to drink more Muscadet.

Muscadet has always been the perfect pairing with oysters, so I usually will order it in a restaurant since I don’t shuck many oysters at home. However, Muscadet is not only for pairing for oysters. It is a very versatile food wine. The low alcohol doesn’t overwhelm and the wine’s acidity makes it a great pairing for many rich dishes — and certainly a great pairing for most seafood. Muscadet often is a very good value play as well.

Beyond the virtues of the grape, there are some very talented winemakers from the appellation as well. No survey of Muscadet would be complete without experiencing the wines from Domaine de la Pépière, home to Marc Ollivier. This particular bottle is a very-old-vine cuvée of Muscadet from a single-plot vineyard in schist, the Clos des Briords. These are among the oldest vines in his estate (planted in 1930) and all the vineyards are from original stock. Ollivier is the only grower in the Muscadet who does not have a single clonal selection in his vineyards.

Ollivier takes his time in the vineyard and the cellar. Ripening is slower, and the longer hang-time before harvest allows for optimal maturity.  He hand harvests (also a rarity in the region), uses natural yeasts, waits for the wine to finish and bottles with a very light filtration. Because of the soil and greater concentration achieved with old vines, the Clos des Briords is a more powerful wine that most Muscadets. It is very mineral and quite austere in its youth, rather than fruity and light. Over a few months, or even years, if one can wait for it, it develops much complexity in aromatics and structure.

Aromatics of apple, citrus and saline. Great precision on the palate with sharp acidity. Loaded with citrus and crushed rock with some orchard fruit. Briney, stoney and chalky. A tremendous value at $16-$17 a bottle. 12% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.

Also interesting to note, that Joe Dressner tweeted on January 30 —  Finished Tasting in Muscadet. Marc Olliver thinks 2009 is best he has made — I will certainly be on the look out for the 2009s.

Related post:
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Granite de Clisson 2007

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