Hooray For Muscadet!

2007 Domaine de la Quilla Muscadet Sevre et Maine
White Wine; other white varietal; Loire;
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Whew! Spring has sprung and we’ve been hustlin’ here. Two weeks ago, had you asked me, “What’s new?”, I probably would have thought for a minute before saying, sadly, “Not much”. Well, that’s all changed now! A few 40 foot trucks have been backed up into our loading dock recently, and they’ve left us with a bunch of new wines that we are so excited about tasting and telling you all about. If you’re nearby, you should stop by and check them out. If you’re not, that’s okay, we can fill you in via email or telephone. I guess we’ll eventually get around to tasting them all, but for the moment, one must proceed one wine at a time.

Beware, I am about to talk up the very wine that solidified my status as a true wine geek. In brief (like that’s possible), my wine appreciation began with reds from California. Fortunately, I was always one to try new things, so I started trying old world reds, and when I put my nose in a 1988 Chateau Margaux I was gone. Gone gone. Buh-bye. I’m off the subject. Where was I going? Oh yeah, so for a long time, it was all about big reds for me and white wines were almost forgotten. Then, something really interesting happened. I had lobster with Chardonnay. The pairing was indescribable. Well, maybe not. How ’bout perfect? It was. So perfect that I mentioned it during my interview before I was hired here. So then, I thought, hmmm, there was something to this pairing thing.

When I started working here at The Wine House, I found out quickly, that there were a lot of wines that I had no idea about, but needed to know about straight away. One of them was Muscadet. Our Muscadet producer is la Domaine de la Quilla. What sets them apart from their peers is that they leave the wine on it’s lees and bottle it at the end of May. Everyone else does this in March. It’s what gives these wines their distinct character. It was described to me as bone-dry, crisp, mineral-like, and lipsmacking. My cohorts here also advised me to drink it with shellfish. Oysters in particular were the optimal pairing. Not to yet again drift from the subject, but let’s just say that seafood and I have had a distant relationship. Though I do try to eat my share of it, and have two people that I’m close to pushing me to try new things, it is a relatively recent foray for me. I still haven’t eaten an oyster, but I’ll get there. So this time, I settled for jumbo shrimp, or prawns if you will. This bottle of Muscadet would be responsible for my cooking seafood at home for the very first time! I bought the shrimp, shelled them, and marinated them in garlic, lime, and cilantro for a couple of hours. It was so new for me, I felt like a kid. I then pulled out the grill pan and put ’em on for a couple minutes per side, and popped the Muscadet. Talk about an eye opening experience. The citrus from the lime, the punch of garlic, and the herbal aspect of the cilantro were all matched by the crispness of the Muscadet. But it was the warm, mellow meatiness that jumbo shrimp has that was perfectly complimented by this wine. I was sold immediately, and have replicated this combo several times.

The appellation of Muscadet lies where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Loire Valley. The wine is made from the grape variety known as Melon de Bourgogne. Seeing that there aren’t any White Burgundies made from this grape, I’m guessing that once upon a time, it took a trip to the beach, and decided to stay there. Forever. As I’ve said already, Muscadet pairs with les fruits de mer perfectly. How convenient. It is grown and made right there next to the ocean. It doesn’t ever work out this perfectly, and a good number of you are already on to this wine, but the last bottle of the 2006 Muscadet sold on the very day that one of the aforementioned trucks dropped off the 2007. And it is great! In a word, great! It is crisp and zingy, a wine that suits this time of year perfectly. And if you look for it, you can get more than a hint of the salinity of the nearby ocean. You know how you can hear the roar of the ocean when holding a shell next to your ear? Have a sip of this 2007 Muscadet and you will be bodysurfing in the ocean of Nirvana. Peter Zavialoff


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Filed under French Wine, Peter Zavialoff

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