Muscadet – it’s time to take a fresh look

When I first tasted these wines early in December 2010 the day before disappearing to Australia for a fortnight, I thought they were excellent. But what made them all the more remarkable was that I retasted them when I returned, and they were still delicious, even the Sauvignon. No fancy storage, just corks pushed back in and then shoved in the cellar. (If you’re ever wondering whether a wine will age, it’s a good exercise to try – the trip to Australia is optional. Have a glass every three or four days, and see whether you think it’s improved or deteriorated since the previous glass – make sure you pop the bottle back somewhere cool in between. Many supposedly ageworthy modern reds respond very badly to this treatment…)

Château du Coing de St Fiacre Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2009 (£8.99 Bentley’s Wine Merchants, Richard Granger, Noble Green Wines, Henderson Wines, Liberty Wines)
Delicious fresh youngster, with crisp citrus, pear and apple matched with briny intensity and a creamy note to the finish. S-

Domaine le Fief de la Brie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2009 (£6.90 Tanners)
A slightly richer style, with almost peachy edges to the orchard fruit, but there’s still that same bracing seaside character and refreshing, sappy finish. B+

Domaine Du Haut Bourg Le Pavillon Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu Sur Lie 2009 (£6.60 Sommelier’s Choice)
Quite exotic in style, still with the marine influence and (ripe) green apple edges, but also with a plusher peach and coconut character, has the body and backbone to age. S(-)

Domaine Du Haut Bourg Signature Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu 2005 (£10.20 Sommelier’s Choice)
Is there a touch of botrytis here? Certainly there’s a honeyed richness, some exotic apricot and mango flesh and maybe a touch of sweetness too. But all the while, there’s that backbone of minerality and brine. Intriguing, tasty wine. S

Domaine Du Haut Bourg Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu 2001 (£11.10 Sommelier’s Choice)
Age has added a honeyed, yeasty roundness and toasty notes, but there’s still plenty of fresh fruit, again with what seems to be a signature touch of the tropical among the apple and citrus flavours. Still very much alive, thanks to the spine of brine. S(-) (Producer link is to the 2000 vintage)

Domaine Du Haut Bourg Sauvignon Blanc Vin de Pays du Val de la Loire 2009 (£7.60 Sommelier’s Choice)
A keen, clean and tangy bargain, full of gooseberry, elderflower, citrus and apple flavours and leafy herbal notes, all underpinned by zesty acidity. Shames many a Sancerre at twice the price. S(-)

PS I was given this information prior to the VAT rise in Jan 2011 – the current prices may be higher

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