Les Vignerons du Pallet
The creation of the first three Muscadet crus communaux in July 2011 was, I suspect, greeted by jubilation in some quarters of the region. It had been a long and drawn-out development process, and one led by interested growers – who would much rather be making and selling wine, of course – than the Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité. Exponents of Clisson, where the soils are largely granite, and Gorges, where gabbro dominates, could at last promote the unique benefits of the geology beneath their feet. The relevant domaines, already well-known (to Muscadet fans at least), such as Domaine Brégeon in Gorges, and Domaine de la Pépière or Bruno Cormerais in Clisson, had new strings to their bows; these vignerons, by taking advantage of the new crus communaux regulations on vine age, yields, élevage and so on, had the potential to take Muscadet Sèvre et Maine to a new level of quality. The wines, with a greater expression of terroir, with more texture and complexity, all enhanced by a prolonged time sur lie, can be – certainly in the case of the two crus mentioned above – nothing short of exciting.
And what of the third of this first flurry of new crus, Le Pallet? This little village sits to the south-east of Nantes, and the commune’s vineyards account for about 500 hectares of the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine appellation (which, at the time of writing, stands at about 8000 hectares). Of this, a small fraction – perhaps around 20 hectares – was ratified to the new cru communal Le Pallet. And it is a cru that seems very different to Clisson and Gorges, on several counts. The most fundamental distinction is that there is not one dominant rock or soil type here. The delimited area seems to be blessed with a greatly varied mix of bedrocks, including granite, gneiss, orthogneiss and gabbro, about as diverse a selection as you could possibly hope to find. Further differences, admittedly not enshrined in the communal regulations, are down to the peculiar philosophies of the commune’s most prominent producer, a consortium of local growers who go by the name of Les Vignerons du Pallet.