One of the staple wines of France’s Loire Valley, Muscadet is a wine that does not get a lot of love. The Loire can produce lovely whites but is a bit like the Lodi Valley of France in many respects, an area where simple table wines rule and minimal respect is proffered.
Muscadet is not a grape but rather a region in the far west of the Loire. The wine named for it is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, and it is not to be confused with Muscat, with which it bears almost no similarity. Instead, you’ll find it closer to Sauvignon Blanc or (especially) Pinot Gris, and quality can be hit or miss. At its best, this is a very light, fresh, and lemony wine with lots of acidity. At its worst, expect musty, vegetal notes to dominate, a by-product of a very wet growing region.
We recently received three Muscadets for review, all from the Sevre et Maine sub-region (widely considered the best of the best of the Loire). Thoughts on all three follow.
2009 Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Lie – A very drinkable, crisp Muscadet, with fresh lemon character, some grassy notes, and a mineral/steel-infused finish. A great example of how Muscadet should taste: Simple but fun and vibrant. A- / $17
2010 Clos des Briords Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Lie Cuvee Vielles Vignes – Steely nose, with considerable greenness. Lemon is heavy on the palate, with very high acidity. Too high, actually, and a bit lifeless on the finish. B- / $14
2010 Michel Delhommeau Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Lie Cuvee Harmonie – Surprisingly fruity, with lots of tropical notes that you’d normally associate with Sauvignon Blanc. The finish turns a little grassy, with mineral notes. Great acid but a comparably round body here. Plenty to enjoy here, and a great value. B+ / $12