I have just returned from a week traveling through the Loire Valley wine region in France. From Muscadet in the far west near Nantes, to Sancerre and Pouilly Fume farther east, the Loire Valley has to represent some of the greatest value wines available. For example, this delicious, crisp Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie
from Château du Cléry
. Very refreshing with a solid backbone of crisp acidity and lots of bright fruit, it's also quite citrussy with nuances of orange, lime and grapefruit. A clear stony minerality emerges mid palate and lingers, adding weight to the palate and compliments the slight spritz in the wine. While quite light-bodied, it is very flavorful and hugely appealing to drink.
At the table: I have long been a fan of Muscadet and find it very versatile at the table. It is light and breezy enough to sip on its own or with nibbles, and a natural partner for freshly shucked oysters. I often serve it with steamed mussels, and of course it works fantastically with any white fish, simply prepared. We recently enjoyed the 2010 vintage with a dish of skate and black butter and caper sauce . The crispness and hint of spritz of the wine were a perfect contrast for the rich browned butter and a compliment to the delicate poached fish.
About Muscadet, Château du Cléry and the designation Sèvre et Maine sur Lie
Muscadet is a designated French wine region around the area of Nantes, where the Loire river flows into the Atlantic ocean. The region encompasses a number of different Muscadet designations, of which Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie is one. Sèvre et Maine is in the heart of Muscadet territory, and is named for the two rivers that cross the vineyard area. The designation "sur Lie' indicates that the wine has spent around six months on its lees post fermentation before bottling. By law "Sur Lie" wines must be bottled between March and November following the vintage.
Contrary to popular opinion Muscadet is not a grape variety. Muscadet wines are made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape variety, which was brought to the Nantes area from Burgundy post Phylloxera and it thrived in the soft, humid coastal climate.
Château du Cléry is one of the most well known Muscadet producers' available in the United States. Pierre Jean Sauvion, who runs the estate today, is the 4th generation of the Sauvion family to cultivate the Château vineyards, which he calls his beloved 'jardin" (garden). Château du Cléry was purchased by his great-great grandfather back in 1935.
Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant.
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