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Domaine de la Sénéchalière Miss Terre 2010

Looking back to see when I last featured a wine from Marc Pesnot of Domaine de la Sénéchalière I discovered it was about this time last year, with his 2009 La Bohème. This was right in the midst of my 2010 Bordeaux reports, which seems somewhat fitting as tomorrow I kick off with my commentary on Bordeaux 2011. As I did with my write up of the 2010 vintage, I will try to provide some contrast each Monday with my Weekend Wine; organic Melon de Bourgogne which, as Marc describes it, is "vin naturel sans intervention vulgaire", seems as good a contrast as any.

A quick recap on Marc for those not familiar with the domaine; based in St Julien de Concelles, to the east of Nantes, on the road out to Le Loroux-Bottereau. Without reference to any maps it is tempting to assume that places Marc in the Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire appellation, but that isn't the case. Although much of the really interesting Muscadet action goes on to the south and southeast of Nantes, around the confluence of the Sèvre and Maine rivers were we find Clisson, Gorges, Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine (for Marc Ollivier, André-Michel Brégeon, Véronique Gunther-Chéreau, for example) and so on, the appellation does extend around to the east as well. Naturally it encompasses La Haie-Fouassière (Jo Landron), Le Landreau (Pierre Luneau-Papin) but it also runs northwards, along the south bank of the Loire, as can be seen in my guide to Muscadet.

Domaine de la Senechaliere Miss Terre 2010

The domaine comprises approximately 13 hectares of vines, mostly Melon de Bourgogne although in recent years Marc has also been working with Abouriou, and having written that I've just remembered that I have also featured this wine (in truth more recently that the Bohème linked above) when I wrote up the Marc Pesnot Labouriou 2009. The soils are schistous, and many of the vines well over 50 years of age; for Miss Terre the vines are up to 80 years old. He favours organic viticulture (although to the best of my knowledge the domaine is not certified), working the soil and opting for plant teas, essential oils and copper treatments over synthetic products. This 'natural' feel continues into the cellar where he uses a minimal amount of sulphur, with a single addition of about 20 mg only at the time of bottling.

What distinguishes the Miss Terre from the rest of his portfolio, however, is malolactic fermentation; not a process generally associated with Muscadet, this wine undergoes malolactic, and as a consequence has a lower acidity than we might expect from Melon, as indicated on the label where Marc has written "Ce vin est sec, mais pas acide". No wonder, then, it is marked up as Vin de France, although Marc's wines are no stranger to this classification (which replaced the old Vin de Table). The 2010 is initially somewhat muted on the nose, despite having been decanted half an hour before, but it soon opens out to reveal some delightfully well defined and grippy fruit characteristics, with scents of pear and citrus pith, alongside elements of white pepper and also a very faint seam of bright, perfumed almond. The palate is quiet exhilarating, with a deep texture, piles of almost sherbetty minerality and a rich, flavoursome substance. Underneath it all there is moderate acidity in keeping with the malolactic, and it is the bite of the minerally component that contributes most to the structure of the wine. The fruit has a savoury vein, and the wine a bright, vibrant, pithy finish, with an appealing bitterness to the fruit here. All in all good; a little atypical, but not in a distracting manner. 15.5/20 (9/4/12)

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