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One for the Luneau-Papin fans

During the Salon des Vins de Loire I stopped off at the Luneau-Papin stand. Well, you have to, don’t you? The Luneau-Papins are gracious, welcoming people, Pierre is always smiling, Pierre-Marie always laughing. They always seem so happy and relaxed in what they do, and yet they are clearly dedicated and precise individuals who don’t pull any punches when it comes to viticulture and fruit selection; it is no accident that these are some of the best examples of Muscadet in existence.

I stopped off to taste, and was taken aback by what came out onto the tasting counter. It was the famed Cuvée L d’Or, but not as you or I know it. It has undergone a makeover; gone is the traditional somewhat angular Muscadet bottle, and the old fashioned label. In its place is what the Luneau-Papin’s refer to as a ‘sommelier‘ bottle, and a more minimalist label, which also highlights the terroir of origin, the granite of Vallet, a commune just to the south of Le Landreau where the Luneau-Papins are based.

Luneau-Papin - the new L d'Or label

The new label states that the wine is Muscadet Sèvre et Maine (and not sur lie) which initially raised my suspicions that it was not just the label that had changed, but the wine too. Are the Luneau-papin’s moving L d’Or to a long lees-aged style, I wondered, akin to the crus communaux wines? I probably shouldn’t have worried, as the wine is already in bottle, and of course cru communal wines usually see 24 months sur lie. But I checked all the same, and it was confirmed that this is just a label change, the wine itself – the vineyard of origin, the fermentation, bottling and so on – are all exactly as they once were.

And as for the taste – it’s superb, as you might expect from the 2012 vintage. Definitely one for the Luneau-Papin fans, and indeed anybody who loves vibrant, fresh and minerally wine. Now, where can I get some?

2 Responses to “One for the Luneau-Papin fans”

  1. Chris,
    It may no longer be so, but I thought that at least at one time, there was an upper limit on the time spent on the lees that was allowed for a ‘sur lie’ designation, and that quite a few long-aged bottlings exceed that limit.

    Not that France would ever have any crazy rules about wine, or any such.

  2. Hi Joe

    That’s absolutely correct, and it is still the case. To be labelled ‘sur lie’ wines have to be bottled between March 1st and November 30th during the year after the harvest, typically giving somewhere between 4 and 10 months on the lees, depending on the exact timing of the harvest and how the fermentation progresses. This can be extended by derogation when the vintage permits it, and this was the case in the 2012 vintage, when growers were able to extend the lees-aging into December 2013 (I presume until the 31st) and still label the wines as sur lie.

    Any wines aged sur lie beyond this date, despite extended time sur lie, can’t be labelled as sur lie. As you say, crazy. That’s why when I saw the ‘sur lie’ had been removed, I wondered if they had aged the L d’Or for a longer time sur lie, but that isn’t the case. The wine was still bottled before the 2013 deadline. I assume they just dropped the ‘sur lie’ for some other reason, perhaps just to declutter the label.

    To my ordered mind the sur lie regulations should be revised, but I guess it isn’t really a priority for most (normal!) people.