Light wines are enjoyable on hot summer days. Muscadet wine is a French white wine known for its supreme dryness. It overflows with zest and gives incredible consistency to the palate. Some folks love it because it pairs well with seafood.
What is Muscadet Wine?
Muscadet wine gives full body richness – it carries pronounced purity and tremendous texture, so you get the best of both worlds. This is one of the few wines that link to the sea. And as soon as you taste it, you get the sharp savory flavors on your tongue.
The texture is a critical aspect of any wine. For the Muscadet, this is achieved through aging as the vines ferment on the lees.
While some look at Muscadet with disdain for its subtle flavor, those who want something with the interplay of acidity enjoy the thrill. There’s far more to this wine, and it keeps getting better every day.
Where Does Muscadet Come From?
Muscadet comes from France’s Loire Valley (Nantes). In this region, the weather is cool and damp, so it takes longer for the grapes to achieve the required ripeness. The wine is made of white grapes (Melon de Bourgogne) known to produce aromas. This type of grape requires special attention. Without proper care, it can be bland and rob the wine of its characteristic acidity.
Since the grapes are harvested early, a few polyphenols compensate for the acidity. The temperate maritime climate and proximity to the sea add creaminess to the wine. The heat is not so much, so the grapes ripen with difficulty.
The dominating grape can stand the harsh temperature, thanks to its frost-resistant capability. Genetically, the grapes lie between Gouais Blanc and Pinot Blanc varieties.
Since the Loire is one of the wettest grape regions, the goal of the grower is to ensure the grapes reach full ripeness. A smaller amount of wine is produced in the cold areas of the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Some are grown in Willamette Valley, while others thrive in cold climates. The vineyards are close to the sea, and that’s how the grapes achieve the salty notes. This type of grape is not particularly aromatic but gives layers of flavor.
The wine is produced on the Lees – dead yeast cells. They allow the fermentation to take place. This method is used on white wines. Of course, the aging process can take several months to a few years.
Most Muscadet Wines Come From the Following Sub-Appellations:
Muscadet Cote De Grandleu
This appellation is approximately about 740 acres. All vineyards with this label are located southwest of Nantes. The wine is rich and comes with lower acidity.
Muscadet Sevre –ET-Maine
It’s one of the most famous sub-appellations with over 600 different producers. Sevre-et-maine covers southeast of Nantes. This is home to the top wines than general Muscadet. There are better soils, more elevation, and the wines are aged.
Muscadet Corteax De La Loire
This is the smallest sub-appellation located southwest of Nantos. There are less than 50 producers that engage in winemaking. The ripeness and quality of grapes will depend on the prevailing weather.
In a mode towards quality, several vineyards were established. This included Clisson, Le Pallet, and Gorges. Wines that don’t meet the requirements of sub-appellations are considered to be inferior. Since the grapes don’t have much character of their own, the wine is transparent to nature.
Muscadet is not a place or name of the grape but part of the AOC system. Because Nantes is warmer than other parts of Loire, it receives a more consistent temperature. Thankfully, most of the rolling hills have fertile soils.
How Muscadet is Made
As with other table wines, Muscadet undergoes the same pressing, aging, and fermentation process.
The grapes are harvested in September and pressed. During this time, they contain a lot of acidity. They are then mixed with fine lees and alcoholic fermentation can take place. At this stage, the yeasty aromas dominate the wine. The French wine laws recommend that the lees should spend at least three months.
The ripeness of the grapes determines the thickness of the wine. Since the wine is not decanted, it develops incredible complexity. Only a small residue of carbon dioxide is left – this makes the wine wavy.
Muscadet can be enjoyed young after one or two years of bottling. Those that are 10 to 20 years old tend to have rich and complex flavors.
What Does Muscadet Taste Like?
If you put your nose on a glass of Muscadet, you can detect lime, tart apples, and lemon aromas. Some experienced tasters can also pick the yeasty bread. Since the wine is unoaked, it doesn’t give pronounced flavors.
The neutral flavor can be saline or tangy. A basic Muscadet wine has a light flavor and a little spritz. High-quality wine has tangy saltiness and a smooth texture. Aging wine results in a creamy texture and is refreshing. This is something you can figure out and factor to create that sensation.
When you compare it with other white wines grapes, Muscadet lacks the complex flavors of Chenin Blanc or Riesling. And after you enjoy the wine, you’ll feel stony flavors back and forth. The aftertaste can be likened to that of Aligoté, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, and Piquepoul. Also, the sip of salt and cedar follow each other.
Some folks believe that Muscadet is an underappreciated wine and lacks the cachet of other wines. Since the wine taste of melon is the same as vintages, it’s made without oak influence. In addition, the saline character is reminiscent of the nearby sea.
Since most French wines are labeled as per the rape variety or for their appellation, Muscadet follows the same convention. You’ll also find 15% of the wines labeled Muscadet Cotes des Grandleu or Muscadet de Coteaux. And because the wine is made from melon de Bourgogne grapes, this is not blended wine.
Muscadet Sur Lie (Serge Batard)
This is a flavorful white dry wine that displays minerality and zingy acidity. The prolonged lees aging gives the wine some unique texture.
Muscadet Sur Lie Les Granges (S. Batard)
This wine is made from grapes of the highest quality. It has high mineral content and searing high acidity.
The tastes reveal themselves sequentially. As soon as you put the wine in your mouth, you’ll notice the lemon flavor. Muscadet is dry and slightly sweet.
Muscadet is not a dessert wine but is stronger than most wines – it’s light-bodied and dry. True Muscadet is like a sharp squeeze of lemon. It’s low in alcohol but lacks the mouthfeel of contemporary whites. This is what makes it a reliable restaurant wine.
Muscadet Sur Lie
This wine is aged on the yeast as fermentation stops. Modern wine-making techniques allow for strict temperature control giving the bracing freshness. While we always see the wine young on retail shelves, this makes Muscadet age well. If you find a bottle in your collection, don’t fret.
Sur Lie practice was common on special occasions and family gatherings. It has now become part of Muscadet’s specialty.
Muscadet goes well with oysters – these are an inseparable duo. And because it’s acidic, the wine cuts through the creaminess of shrimp, salmon, and scallops. You can also pair it with light fish like perch or herring.
The versatility of Muscadet makes it great when you pair it with zesty veggies like celeriac, corn, kohlrabi, onions, and garlic shoots. The saline notes work as a palate cleanser after taking a meal. Also, the acidity makes the wine pair well with many Asian cuisines.
If you love herbs, you can pair the wine with ginger, white pepper, turmeric, nutmeg, thyme, chives, and savory.
That’s not all. Muscadet goes well with hot chicken. This is because of its non-fruity characteristics. The citrusy acidity works well with cayenne heat. If you love tacos, this wine is for you. The many years of fermentation help to form a creamy texture, and that’s why it goes bizarrely well with tortillas.
How to serve Muscadet wine
Since Muscadet is a light wine, it’s a fantastic choice during those sweltering summer days. You can also enjoy a glass after meals without getting tipsy. Before you drink the wine, you must ensure it has the correct temperature (between 48-52 degrees F). Putting the bottle in your fridge will do the trick.
You should never decant the wine because it could compromise the normal serving temperature. Instead, you can swirl your glass a couple of times.
The way you store your wine will determine the shelf life. If the bottle has a broken cork, the wine could easily go bad. Also, too much heat can compromise the quality of the wine. The best way to establish if the wine has gone bad is the smell of vinegar.
To enjoy your wine, you should use it three days after opening the bottle. Be sure to reseal with the original cork. After that, you should keep it in the fridge to stay cool.
Wines that have been aged can go for three years after bottling.
Overall, Muscadet wine gives modest acidity and fruity notes and plays nicely with salty mollusks. And there are many reasons to love it. It’s mineral-edged, full-bodied, and pairs well with seafood.
Are you ready to taste Muscadet wine?