Pepiere Clos de Briords Muscadet 2009

Is there a better value than a good bottle of Muscadet?  When temperatures ascend well over 95 degrees as they did this week I often find myself craving this crisp white, which like Anne Hathaway, surprises me with personality every time.

Grown on the western coast of the Loire Valley, the grape Melon de Bourgogne is more commonly referred to as Muscadet. Unless yields are controlled it can result in boring, acidic wine with little character. A production method, known as “lees aging” was adopted in order to insert some heft and complexity.  Once yeast cells have played their role in the fermentation process, they sink to the bottom of the fermentation vessel.  These spent yeast cells are known as “lees.” Allowing young Muscadet to age “sur lie” adds complexity, body and bready aromatics. Wines labeled “sur lie,” may not be bottled until the March following the harvest, although most spend at least 9 months aging in this manner.

Marc Ollivier in the Clos de Briords Vineyard.

The western most part of the Loire is known as the Nantes and there are a few important appellations for Melon de Bourgogne. The Muscadet-Sevre et Maine is by far the most important, making up more than 75% of production. Two other up and coming appellations include Muscadet-Coteaux de la Loire and Muscadet-Côtes de Grandlieu. We just brought in a stunning new wine from Grandlieu produced at  Domaine Haut Bourg. Hailing from the 2000 vintage, this surprisingly fresh white spends 7 years “sur lie.”

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.  Cool off with this Muscadet as you suffer through the last of the summer heat.

– Will Sugerman

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11 Comments »

  1. Andy Green said

    Thanks for the tip. I just discovered Muscadet. Yes, it is a bit stony with just the right acidity, somewhat reminiscent of its neighbor Sancerre.

  2. amantivinoblog said

    Thanks for reading. I had a bottle of the 2006 out of Magnum last night and it was fantastic. The minerality of Sancerre at half the price!!

  3. Alli M. said

    I love that you compared this wine to Anne Hathaway! Your description beats my latest posting about JETS branded Cabernet Sauvignon.

    • amantivinoblog said

      Thanks Alli. A beautiful wine that you can have a conversation with. Seemed liked an appropriate comparison.

  4. Barbara Alper said

    You were very prescient to be talking about Muscadet before Eric Azimoff & co. reviewed them this Wednesday. AV does not seem to carry any on their list…
    Congratulations on earning your degree.
    Barbara & Edmond

    • amantivinoblog said

      Thanks guys!! Yeah I hate it when Azimoff steals my ideas :-). Along with the two of you and my mom, he must be one of my 4 readers.

  5. Dan Rosenheim said

    Actually, you have more readers than you might imagine! Interesting column. Nice writing, too! Now, where does THAT come from, I wonder.

    • amantivinoblog said

      Thanks Dan. I’m not half the writer of either of my parents but I appreciate the kind words. Thanks to you we can boast readers coast to coast. 🙂

  6. Dan Rosenheim said

    By the way (it’s the copy editor in me), the guy’s name is spelled A-s-i-m-o-v, like his cousin the science fiction writer.

    • amantivinoblog said

      Apparently I am not half the fact checker either.

      • Phil Sikora said

        Accuracy is overrated. (8-)

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