The varietal of grape is Muscadet (sometimes called Melon de Bourgogne). These grapes were hand harvested and aged for seven months on its lees (hence, sur lie). Winemakers, like Sebastien Branger, will often make this wine sur lie ($20+ price range). Lees are dead yeast cells. Once they are no longer able to consume sugar, they die and fall to the bottom, becoming lees. If grape juice (also called grape must) sits on its lees, this will add bread and butter notes to the wine. Sometimes winemakers do this in order to tame the acidity of a wine. Characteristically, Muscadet is a high acid grape. In terms of alcohol, this wine comes in at a light 12%. These particular grapes were grown on a gneiss (granite) slope (if you’re producing high-quality wine, it almost always comes from a sloped piece of land).
The label is also telling you a little something about the terroir – Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, which is a cool climate, marine appellation between the Sèvre and Maine rivers. It’s located in the Western reaches of the Loire Valley, in the Pays Nantais (close to the city of Nantes). With around 15,808 acres and 425 winemakers, it’s the most important appellation for Muscadet. The minerality and salinity attributed to Muscadet’s comes primarily from the soils found in this terroir – gneiss, granite, and schist.
AROMAS & TASTE
If you like sweet and fruity wines, this just isn’t the wine for you. On the nose, this wine expresses high citrus notes – pineapple and lime. On the palate, the citrus fades, giving way to a lean, green wine with high minerality – I kid you not, people actually say it tastes like SEASHELLS. It’s not incredibly far off… there’s definitely a salinity to it. I find this interesting because the city of Nantes is less than an hour away from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s likely that the soil could very well contain granules of crushed seashells hundreds, maybe thousands of years old.
Regionalism. Not by coincidence, this wine pairs extremely well with seafoods – try moules marinières!