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6 of the Best Muscadets From the Loire Valley

Muscadet is a quintessential summer white wine, a top choice when it comes to pairing simple fish recipes and shellfish, especially oysters and clams on the half shell and popular dishes like linguine with clam sauce and mussels meunière.

Dry, saline, herbal, mineral, and high-acid are some of Muscadet’s defining qualities, which, for me, make it a natural for seafood, though pairing with grilled herbed chicken or pork chops will also work.

The wine comes from the far western part of France’s Loire Valley, near the city of Nantes, where the Loire River gives way to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a relatively cool, maritime climate that lends itself to Muscadet, which is quite reserved in character with alcohol almost never more than 12 percent or so.

Most commonly on labels, you’ll see “Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie.” This refers to the Sèvre Nantaise and Maine, two tributaries of the Loire in the heart of the Muscadet zone. “Sur lie” signifies that the Muscadet, like many other white wines, is aged on the lees, the yeast remnants and other solids that give the wines a softer, slightly creamy texture.

And on the topic of “Confusing French Wine Terms,” Muscadet is only the name of the wine; the grape is the Melon de Bourgogne, which, as the name suggests, originated in Burgundy.

The wines range from the simple wash-down variety to more complicated examples. Many, including some of the wines below, come from vineyards long farmed organically and biodnamically. Soils include clay, gravel, schist, granite, and volcanic rock. These wines are typically vinified without oak. And while most Muscadets are meant for early drinking, some can age beautifully for a decade or more.

Muscadet is also an excellent value; you’ll find most of them on store shelves in the $12 to $20 range. It’s worth spending a bit more to experience Muscadets with greater complexity, too.

Here are six of the best Muscadets to try now.

Domaine de la Pinardière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2021

Green apple, white peach, lemon and a mineral touch characterize this good-value Muscadet that is aged on the lees for 7 and a half months. It’s a prototypical Muscadet that will pair with everything from baked clams to oysters on the half shell.

Price: $13
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Domaines Landron “La Louvetrie” Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2020

Domaines Landron is often considered one of the pioneers of the natural wine movement in the area, achieving organic certification in 2002 and implementing biodynamic practices in 2005. There’s nice complexity here along with ample freshness. Lots of mineral “chewiness” frames the generous fruit, including apricot and a touch of strawberry. There are hints of saline and baking spices on the soft finish that result from the lees aging.

Price: $17
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Château de la Ragotière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie “Les Vieilles Vignes” 2020

An excellent-value Muscadet, this one is quite dry with green apple, pear, and some tropical fruit notes, including a hint of pineapple. (Did I say oysters?) As with all of these wines, please don’t drink them too cold or you’ll miss the nice subtlety they offer when they warm up slightly.

Price: $14
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Domaine de L’Ecu “Granite” Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2021

From Muscadet superstars Claire and Fred Niger, the “Granite” refers to the granitic soils in the vineyards, which contribute to the wine’s stony minerality. This was the most complex wine I tasted, with a touch of white pepper on the first sip, followed by McIntosh apple, lime, and tropical fruit notes. There’s a nice creamy layer on the finish from aging “sur lie” for a long 15 to 18 months.

Price: $26
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Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie “La Pépie” 2022

From one of the most famous Muscadet producers, this stellar $15 wine carries on the legacy of owner Marc Olivier, who retired a few years ago. It’s marked by notes of pear, sliced orange, and saline with a touch of herbs on the finish. A classic Muscadet.

Price: $15
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Chéreau-Carré Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2021

This is a fairly basic Muscadet at a great price. It’s bone dry, with lemon-lime and melon notes and a steely minerality. A large order of moules-frites is going through my mind as I think about this wine.

Price: $13
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Next up: “Bourgogne” wines from France’s Burgundy.

The article 6 of the Best Muscadets From the Loire Valley appeared first on VinePair.

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