It is hard to think of a less fashionable wine than Muscadet. These wines from the extreme coastal west of the Loire Valley near Nantes are unfashionably dry, lightweight, and it has to be said, often not terribly good. But as in all such cases, there is Muscadet, and there is Muscadet, and one of the undoubted geniuses of Muscadet is Chéreau Carré, who produce wines from several Domaines in the region, of exceptional quality. The added spice in this little tasting, is the 2003 vintage.2003 was an exceptionally hot and dry vintage, where the wines of Muscadet – for once – had the chance to ripen as fully as any vigneron could wish. Normally this damp and cool corner of northern France struggles to gain full ripeness, but not in 2003, when good producers could harness the natural benefits of higher potential alcohol and fully ripe Melon de Bourgogne grapes to create Muscadet of exceptional quality. The Cuvée de Ceps from Château de Chasseloir is an exceptional wine, and possibly the best Muscadet I have ever tasted.
Chéreau Carré (France) Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine 2003
Retailing at around £5 per bottle, this is a perfect case in point: it has all the crisp, fresh, green apple fruit you could wish for, with a really crunchy, vibrant palate, but it also has body and richness to spare. Very good indeed. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com
Château de la Penissière (France) Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2003
The added leesy richness and oatmeally aromas on this wine are obvious, with a waxy lemon fruit quality and apple notes. On the palate there’s a tiny spritz, but then a full-textured, rolling ripe apple and pear fruit with a full, grippy lemon acidity in the finish. Very good indeed/excellent. Around £6.50 a bottle.
Château de Chasseloir (France) Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine “Cuvée de Ceps” 2003
This wine is made from a parcel of 100-year-old vines giving extremely low yields. The Cuvée de Ceps is widely acknowledged to be one of Muscadet’s very best wines. There is an immediately flinty, gravelly, real terroir component on the nose with fantastic intensity. The palate is equally intense and vibrant, with masses of crunch nettle, pear and apple fruit and a great waxy core of fat, juicy lemon acidity. There is fabulous concentration here, and real length and purity. Outstanding. This retails for around £8 per bottle.
There are no UK retailers listed for the latter two wines in the 2003 vintage as yet. To see all stockists of other Chéreau Carré wines and earlier vintages – the 1996 of Cuvée de Ceps is apparently drinking beautifully – please see wine-searcher.com