Chateau de la Bodiniere Muscadet 2006
Cool, Refreshing, Inexpensive
By Cynthia Hurley
The Tall, Cool Green Muscadet bottle - Chateau de la Bodiniere
I've got a big pot of moules on the stove steaming in their white wine and onion bath. It really wasn't hard to decide what wine to uncork for them: Muscadet. A lot of people just don't take Muscadet seriously preferring to experiment with all kinds of "Johnny-come-lately" whites with jazzy labels and names. Muscadet's been around since the 17th century; we're talking about growers with history and tradition and know- how and appetites.
Muscadet may not be a wine that thrusts itself into the middle of your meal trumpeting oak notes and a full octave of florals, spices, and flavors, but I'll tell you one thing. You will come away with a very satisfied feeling by the time you've eaten that last mussel or oyster or any kind of fish, really, and you'll be back for more.
And, of course, it doesn't hurt that Muscadet is pretty darn affordable these days. We all want wines we can drink regularly and this is one of them. Why, just looking at that tall, green, icy-cold bottle of Muscadet makes me think that it won't be long before the air warms and I'll be on the road somewhere in the French countryside. Maybe even Nantes. That's where Muscadet comes from.
Nantes is the westernmost big town on the Loire River before it streams out into the Atlantic Ocean. Muscadet is a Loire Valley wine and as you know, the Loire Valley stretches halfway across the breast of France all the way east to Sancerre and Pouilly. The Loire is a lush, green, rolling hillside sort of place, which produces a lot of France's foods and wines. Wines like Chinon, and Bourgueil, and Vouvray are Loire wines. Muscadet is a white Loire that is made from the melon grape.
Muscadet is lively, fresh, and dry. The best have lemony flavors, some nuttiness and minerality. Most Muscadet is made to be drunk within a couple of years from the harvest. It is not a particularly complex wine, but it soars with shellfish and seafood. And, aren't we all on our bathing suit diets and eating a lot of the white stuff with fins and shells? So what could be timelier?
There is more than one appellation with the word Muscadet in its name. So let's be very clear about this: Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine established way back in 1926, is the appellation you want. This area makes the best Muscadet. And best brings me to Chateau-Thebaud. Chateau Thebaud isn't a Chateau (there may be a one with that name lurking about, but we're not interested in that here). It is a commune or wine growing area within an appellation that is officially allowed to put the name of the appellation on its label. Communes take their names from their villages.
But there is a Chateau in Chateau Thebaud that I want to point out: Chateau de la Bodiniere. This is an estate that makes a great Muscadet - lively and fresh and, of course, very dry. The proprietor here is Pierre Lieubeau. He bought the estate in 1982. He completely updated the vineyard and built a modern winery. His wines have a nervousness about them - a little spark on the tongue from natural CO2 which actually draws the flavors out. Pierre is a traditional wine maker and doesn't believe in messing around with oak in his Muscadet and I have to say I agree with him. The average age of the vines is about 25 years old and of course his wines are sur-lie.
That's another thing. Don't buy a Muscadet that doesn't have sur-lie on the label. Sur-lie means that the wine has sat on its lees or the sediment that forms during fermentation - right up until the time it is bottled. One racking to remove the whacking big pieces of sediment, is allowed, but that's it. Sitting on the lees emboldens a Muscadet's personality and puts a little flesh on its bones.
I have watched the sunset too many times to count, nipping from a glass of Chateau Bodiniere and sipping off the brine of oysters from their little shell cups and been sublimely content. So, stop fiddling around with all of those gussied-up, over-done, heavy whites and come back to (inexpensive) Muscadet. You'll be very glad you did. Cynthia Hurley
Lemony flavors, some nuttiness and minerality from Chateau Thebaud (one of the best Muscadet communes). Completely updated vineyard and modern winery. Average age of the vines is about 25 years old and, of course, his ... more
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