Domaine de Bellevue
For many years our perception of Muscadet has been, rightly or wrongly (I would suggest the latter), that it is one very large amorphous appellation. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. The entire region is peppered with distinctive terroirs, igneous and metamorphic rocks of all types, granite, gabbro and gneiss, serpentinite and amphibolite to name but a few. If you were to set out to walk the length of the Loire, travelling upstream, once you had passed Brissac-Quincé in Anjou you would not see rocks like this again for hundreds of kilometres, not until you reached the volcanic landscape of the Auvergne.
Muscadet cognoscenti, however, know this well, and they know the little towns and villages associated with these terroirs. To the committed drinker of Muscadet, the names of Clisson (where we find granite), Gorges (famed for its gabbro bedrock) and Château-Thébaud (we find here a different type of granite, to be precise granodiorite) carry no less significance than names such as Fourchaume, Montée de Tonnerre and Montmains do to your average Chablis addict.
Of these names perhaps Clisson is the best known, and perhaps rightly so. As noted above the vines here are planted on granite which, even though it accounts for barely 5% of the Muscadet vineyard, in terms of quality and interest this is a very significant terroir. Clisson lies right on the banks of the Sèvre, and just downstream is Gorges, where gabbro rocks give this commune’s wines a spine-tingling minerality which for me, I think, makes this another of the more exciting terroirs here. One figure tending soil in this region is Jérôme Bretaudeau (pictured above), of Domaine de Bellevue. He is based in Gétigné, on the opposite side of Clisson to Gorges, and he landed here just after the turn of the century. This century, in case you were wondering.