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Mastering muscadet

This zingy, citrussy Loire grape deserves a comeback – it’s perfect with shellfish. Here are three of the area’s best examples

Fief Guérin Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu, France 2016 (£8.49, Waitrose) In the family of dry Loire white wines, muscadet has been something of an outcast in recent decades. It was hugely popular in the 70s and 80s, but lost its way once the aromatic and fruit-driven wines of the New World arrived on the scene. Sales collapsed, with the sauvignon blancs of New Zealand drawing attention to wines made from the same grape downriver in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. But as the original Francophile foodie Elizabeth David put it way back in 1960, few white wines go so ‘admirably’ with fish and seafood as a good brisk and briny muscadet made from melon de bourgogne – and few do it with more shimmering citrussy intensity to the pound than this Waitrose stalwart.

Domaine de Verger Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, France 2015 (from £9.95, Joseph Barnes Wines) There are very good value, moules marinières-ready muscadets available, with Aldi’s Exquisite Collection Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie providing the clean-lines lemony zip at a £4.99 snip, and the Co-op’s Château de la Giraudière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie offering a touch more tart tanginess for £6.99. What’s made muscadet a cause célèbre for sommeliers, however, is the next level up, where small-scale producers make wine with the appeal of white burgundy – especially chablis – at a fraction of the price. Pierre Luneau-Papin makes superbly racy, precise, long-lived muscadets, with the Verger a crystalline, salted-lemon ideal for shellfish.

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