Muscadet has tended to be an overlooked and under-estimated wine – too closely associated with with an earlier age pf Berni Inns, Black Forest Gateau and the Prawn Cocktail. And as with German wines of that era the market was flooded with cheap, thin wines which ruined its reputation.
Muscadet is named for the grape from which it is made rather than its place of origin. The Muscadet, also called the Melon de Bourgogne, was brought to the Loire centuries ago from Burgundy. It flourished in the Pays Nantais, the region around Nantes (44 Loire-Atlantique, Pays de la Loire), producing wines that perfectly reflect their maritime environment, and which make a natural partner for the Atlantic seafood which is the prime produce of the region.
Muscadet is the largest white wine appellation in France. It includes Muscadet AOC and three regional appellations, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire and Muscadet Coteaux des Grands Lieux. Each winery must have its wines approved by an official tasting board before it can use the appellation.
Muscadet which has been produced and aged in accordance with certain strict guidelines may be designated “Muscadet Sur Lie. – and these are the best wines to look out for. Keeping the wine in the barrel (on the lees or “sur lie”) all winter, allows the wine’s aromas to develop, and carbonic gas produced by this process imparts a liveliness on the palate. Only wines made from the best vineyards are permitted to use the Sur Lie designation.
At its best Muscadet retains a fresh acidity, but with sufficient body and almost a creaminess to counterbalance the sharpness – this makes it an ideal companion to fish and shellfish.
Sauvion/Chateau de Cleray is one of the best producers – their website has lots of info and some recipes for a variety of local and some oriental dishes.
For more info on the region see www.nantes-tourisme.com