The theme is international wine this week — if you’ve been hanging out reading about Languedoc and New Zealand, then you know what I’m talking about. I have one wine that doesn’t quite fall into any of the designated “regional” themes, so this one-off review is just a celebration of my first Muscadet.
About the Wine: Muscadet is made from a white wine grape called Melon de Bourgogne, originating from the western Loire Valley in France, and is the dominant grape grown and wine made in the AOC. The name Muscadet translates to the descriptor, “‘wine with a musk-like taste,” though — at least in this bottle — I didn’t find much muskiness about it. The naming of the wine is a bit of an anomaly, as French wines are usually named by their AOC and/or the grape variety.
The Muscadet growing region lies to the far west of the Loire Valley. This bottle of Muscadet was made from Melon de Bourgogne grapes grown in the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine region, the largest of the three Muscadet producing regions within the Loire Valley with 21,745 acres planted to the white grape. Here, the area’s proximity to the ocean makes the region significantly cooler than the rest of the Loire Valley. Soils here are comprised of clay, graveland sand and subsoils of gneiss, schist, granite and volcanic rock.
As you can tell from the bottle, the wine was aged sur lie. And while I can’t tell you the specifics of the winemaking that went into this bottle, I can speculate that it did spend a certain amount of time in barrel — mostly like neutral or seasoned.
Flavor Profile: Open the bottle and the first thought that comes to mind is apple juice. Specifically apple juice that’s about to turn, as there’s a distinct aroma of yeast. But along with it a simultaneous background aromatic of wet rocks along a river. The Muscadet is a very pale shade of yellow, reminiscent of the sun’s reflection coming through the glass.
Initial aromas are of fresh paint drying on the walls — so swirl and sniff again. Green leaves, sandy beaches, sea-salt air come to life, and soft yellow apples linger so subtly in the background. Bringing the nose to the top of the glass will reveal just a delicate whisper of white-flower perfume. But stick your nose all the way in and take a deep inhale, and a larger bouquet of a more colorful arrangement takes over. There’s a roundness to the scent as well, but also a thin line of acidity that cuts through that roundness.
The initial palate is a clean, clear river water-like texture with flavors of apple and honey. Mid-palate brings a deeper textural component — a rounder, fuller one — along with some heavier aromatics of pollen and petals. The finish has a good acid kick that tingles the gums around the teeth and warms the chest.
Note: Keep this wine chilled and enjoy a bit of effervescence on the palate.
Food Pairing: I paired my first ever Muscadet with a broccoli and mushroom pizza and a side salad. This wine loves herbs, playing up those grassy elements found on the initial nose of the wine as well as that pollen and petal. This wine loves cheese — that beachy sand component plays nicely with funky cheeses while the freshness of the river water and sea-salt air cut through that same funk. And this is a wine you can actually drink with a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, especially when chilled, as the effervescence will cut through the veggie’s innate “stink.”
Perfect pairing? Why not? What would you pair a Muscadet with?
More Info: I received this Muscadet from Last Bottle Wines as a sample for review. (Cheers Mike!) For more information (including exact retail price), please visit the Last Bottle Wines website.
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