Monday, March 8, 2010

The Mos Mighty Muscadet

Photo courtesy of The Ten Bells, New York City

There is something just so incredibly likeable and exciting about Muscadet; once you find it you're not likely to ever shed the excitement you have while craving it and then downing a glass (or more) of it. There is nothing pretentious about the wine, there is plenty of it available, and everyone from the most jaded of wine drinkers to someone who enjoys wine uncritically will agree that Muscadet quenches thirst and flatters a variety of foods. When made well from top vineyard sites, Muscadet is both deeply satisfying and intellectually stimulating in a way that few wines can be. In the case of the true grand cru vineyard sites of the AOC, I do not think I stand alone in arguing that there probably is no better white wine value in the world. Here are two such wines I have been slowly following over the past two days, and will continue to do so over the next several.

2007 Pierre Luneau-Papin L d'Or Muscadet Sevre & Maine Sur Lie
Their top cuvee. Any info on the domaine and wine that you might need are readily available on Joe Dressner's site. 30 hectares is a lot of land, but in these hands I trust how that land is used. There is an effortless, seamless balance in this wine that is tough to verbalize and simply should be experienced. Having had examples of this wine - not often, but on a few occasions - going back to 1989, and seeing how well and consistently it tends to age, it's worth mentioning that while metrics such as acidity, tannin and residual sugar are important indicators of a wine's development, ultimately a young balanced wine from great terroir will age a long time. We are not sure how this happens but invariably it does. There is no better indicator of wine ageability than a solid track record.

2007 Domaine de l'Ecu Expression de Orthogneiss Muscadet & Maine Sur Lie
While the Luneau Papin L d'Or is muscadet minerality and typicité personified, this particular bottling from Guy Bossard always seems something quite other. Bossard's vines are located in Le Landreau the same as Pierre Luneau-Papin. Shortly after I first opened this, it was rich, comparably fat, and seeming to lack in the type of acidity and rocky minerality that I come to expect in most Muscadet. A few days of sitting in the fridge after opening, however, and the singularity of this bottling really comes through. This may seem strange (it certainly does to me) but the aromas and flavors suggest more red fruit than white, and I even get a sort of Pinot Noir like character out of it, albeit with white wine acidity and texture. Richer and fleshier than the norm for Muscadet, to be sure, the Expression de Orthogneiss still has loads of finesse, a Burgundian sensibility as well as gravitas that sets it apart. Domaine de l'Ecu has been farmed biodynamically since 1986.

For less than $25 for each of these, I will likely pony up for at least 6 bottles of each, and ideally a case so that should I be tempted to drink a few, I will still have some bottles remaining.