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13 August 2015

Muscadet: Guilbaud Frères

Pascal Guilbaud
Pascal Guilbaud and family are the latest in a long line of grape-growers and winemakers to be at the wheel of this eye-opening estate winery, which just goes to show that there's Muscadet and there's Muscadet. They've obviously managed to lift up this well-known (and often rather boring) dry white wine onto a higher dimension, stylistically, as I noted about their 2012 old vine cuvée, like "a mix of good Burgundy and Riesling." Which inevitably translates as their wines being a little dearer, but not by much for this quality. These three tried and tested below are all made from 100% Melon de Bourgogne aka Muscadet to you and me - I get the impression the latter name is perhaps considered an inferior moniker for the variety, especially by producers like the Guilbaud brothers who obviously take it very seriously... The Vintage House in London stock some of their wines priced about £10; also available in Germany and Belgium.

Le Clos du Pont Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2009 - Sourced from a well-exposed sunny spot from a vineyard planted in "clay on schist" with 30 to 40 year-old vines. 2009 enjoyed a particularly hot summer with "selected, very ripe grapes" coming in to the cellar. The fledgling wine spent "several weeks in vat on lees" before fermentation in large oak casks, then aged for more than two years in barrel afterwards (not new oak though), which is unusual for Muscadet - most of it doesn't get any near wood or isn't aged even, made and kept in stainless steel tanks.
Seemed surprisingly youthful for its age, kind of like 'flat' Cava or Champagne with toasty almond, yeasty and appley aromas and flavours, maturing savoury and nutty notes contrasting with that crisp appley side, complex ageing and rounded finish yet still quite steely underneath. Unusual and well tasty. €10.55 cellar door.

Château de la Pingossière 'Vieilles Vignes' Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie 2012 - From "silica, schist and Gneiss soils" (for all you geologists out there), picking started late in 2012 due to a late winter freeze (causing a fair bit of damage too limiting the final crop) and slow start to summer. This vineyard is found in the Vallet village area on a hilltop, planted with 35 to 45 year-old vines. Yeast-lees stirring was done once a week for the first two months, then ageing on fine lees for 10 months "partly in underground vats and partly in old tuns in the cellar." (It must all be in the geeky detail you might be wondering..?)
Very nice style mix reminiscent of Burgundy vs Riesling, quite concentrated and intense, crisp and 'salty' with 'mineral' celery tones vs more savoury baked apple, long fine fresh finish vs nutty oily texture. Very good. €7 cellar door.

Le Soleil Nantais Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie 2014 - From "different parcels in silica-clay soils around the village of Mouzillon and schist soils around Vallet." Younger vines aged 20 to 35 years. In 2014, vintage conditions were all going fine up until a rather rainy August, but which was followed by a great September (like just about everywhere). Seven months on the lees in those "underground vats" and stainless tanks.
Refreshing and crisp with nice 'chalky' texture vs ripe apple and melon flavours, again has good depth of character and racy acidity to finish. €6.50 cellar door.

More info: GUILBAUD-MUSCADET.COM

By the way, all Loire Valley words and wines will be moved from WineWriting.com (links to page where it is at the mo) to this blog sooner or later...

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