Domaine de la Pépière, 2012 Update
Which is the most dynamic, exciting and vibrant appellation in the Loire right now? There are plenty to choose from, well over 70 (and still climbing) at the last count, and yet I don’t find this semi-rhetorical question too difficult to answer. This is despite the fact that there are quite a few candidates for the shortlist; recent discoveries in Anjou mean that this appellation – which I described long ago as a ‘melting pot’ for new developments – would make the grade. So too Sancerre, which is proving with ever-greater frequency that Sauvignon Blanc can express its Kimmeridgian terroir just as convincingly as Chardonnay can. But usurping them all, I think, would be Muscadet, an appellation which is undergoing something close to a revolution in how the wines are defined and – eventually I suppose – marketed.
Of course it’s a little sloppy to answer simply “Muscadet”. More specifically, it is Muscadet Sèvre et Maine that really interests me. More specifically again, the cru communaux, which are taking near-appellation status; although the wines remain officially Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, the name of the cru takes dramatic pride of place on the label in most cases. Little enclaves of this region are waving farewell to their association with this long-misunderstood appellation and restyling themselves as something new; Clisson is the most commonly sighted, although we also have Gorges and Le Pallet ratified, and Château Thébaud, Monnières Saint Fiacre, Goulaine and Sanguèze are all promised for the near future. I’ve high hopes for these new designations; I don’t think we will see an immediate resurgence in the fortunes of Muscadet as a result, as today you need to be a bit of a Loire-geek to understand the high quality to be found within Muscadet, and so far it’s only this inner circle of geeks that have really latched onto these new crus I think. The benefit I hope for will come more slowly, better definition of the terroirs and the wines eventually allowing Muscadet to break through to a broader consumer base once again. Well, who knows? If Picpoul de Pinet (which, for the benefit of readers outside the UK, is receiving a lot of exposure in the British press at the moment) can do it…..