Your Next Lesson: Muscadet – The New York Times

Next up is a wine that could not be more different from Napa cabernet, Muscadet. Instead of a powerful red often considered among the world’s best wines and priced accordingly, Muscadet is an unassuming white too often stereotyped as simple, cheap and good only when young and with oysters.Mass-market Muscadet producers cater to that view, making boatloads of wan, banal wine that offers at best a stream of cold refreshment. Yet, as has happened all around the wine-producing world, a small group of focused, quality-conscious growers and producers has fought the clichés of Muscadet by making exceptional, multidimensional wines, fascinating on many levels. Yes, they go beautifully with oysters, but they can do so much more.Like many great French white wines, Muscadet, which comes from the Pays Nantais at the Atlantic end of the Loire Valley near the city of Nantes, is not so much fruity as it is textured, with a range of subtle aromas and flavors that don’t leap out at you but reward careful attention. It is made from the melon de Bourgogne grape, and good Muscadet, surprisingly, can age beautifully, sometimes for decades.I would love to focus on 15-year-old Muscadet, but those wines are hard to find, and for Wine School we need more widely available examples, all of which are relatively young. The three bottles I recommend are:reader perspectivesEric Asimov, The New York Timeswine critic, is talking aboutMuscadet this month. If you wouldlike to join the conversation, try one of thebottles listed here and as you try them, ask yourself these questions.AromaDo these wines call to mind fruits? Or other elements?TextureHow do these wines feel in the mouth? Take time to note the sensations.SubtletyDo you enjoy the quiet pleasures these wines offer? Or do you prefer wines that are more bold?respondJo Landron, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine “Le Fief du Breil” 2011 (Martin Scott Wine, Lake Success, N.Y.) $20Michel Brégeon Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie 2012 (Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif.) $17La Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie “Les Gras Moutons” 2013 (Louis/Dressner Selections, New York) $17As is so often the case with small-production wines, these bottles may not be so easy for everybody to find. As alternatives, I recommend any of the many cuvées issued by La Pépière and Jo Landron, who also makes wine under the label Domaine de la Louvetrie. Brégeon makes fewer cuvées, but any will be fine. In addition, any wines from these producers will also do quite well: Pierre Luneau-Papin, Domaine de L’Écu, Chéreau-Carré and Vincent Caillé.Beyond oysters, Muscadet goes beautifully with a wide range of seafood. Don’t hesitate to drink it with light chicken preparations, seafood and vegetable pastas and cheeses. And please, drinking the wine too cold will mute the subtleties of these wines. If you don’t believe me, try it straight out of the refrigerator. Then try it again after it’s had 30 minutes to warm a bit. You’ll find two different wines.Correction: March 30, 2015An earlier version of this article misstated the sub-appellation of the three wines featured in the Wine School assignment for April. It is Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, not Muscadet Sèvre et Main.Correction: March 31, 2015An earlier version of a photograph showed the wrong vintage of Michel Brégeon Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie for April’s installment of Wine School. It should be 2012, not 2011.

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