Domaine de l’Ecu, 2014 Update

A tasting with Guy Bossard, long-standing doyen of Domaine de l’Ecu, often used to feature just three wines, on some occasions four. The three wines that would regularly show up would be his three terroir-driven Muscadet cuvées, helpfully christened Granite, Gneiss and Orthogneiss. They have been, on many occasions, appellation-defining wines; tense, vibrant, minerally cuvées, and tastings here could easily degenerate into an animated discussion of one wine versus the next, picking each one apart, looking for which one showed best, and which perhaps had a chink in its armour. The fourth wine was the domaine cuvée, the Cuvée Classique. It offered good value (although which half-decent Muscadet doesn’t offer good value?) but not the depth and cut of the three terroir cuvées.

New Cuvées

Now though, things have changed. With the arrival of Frédéric Niger the range of wines has been reshaped, with more attention given to reds as well as whites. Guy has had red vines for as long as I have been tasting his wines, but he almost never brought any red wines he made to tastings, and they never came out when I visited the domaine. Perhaps, I wondered, he wasn’t really interested. Frédéric, however, certainly is interested, and there are now a number of red cuvées regularly appearing, including Rednoz, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from granite, Mephisto (probably my favourite of the bunch so far), 100% Cabernet Franc from granite, and Ange, which is 100% Pinot Noir from gneiss and orthogneiss. They are made with minimal or no added sulphur dioxide, and all are bottled as Vin de France.

Domaine de l'Ecu

That’s the easy bit. But the range of white wines is also undergoing change. First up, there are several new cuvées, including Marguerite which is 100% Folle Blanche, made without added sulphur dioxide, and put through malolactic fermentation. This is certainly a distinctive wine. The same can also be said of Taurus (although this cuvée does pre-date Frédéric’s arrival), a Muscadet aged ten months in subterranean cuve, followed by six months in used barriques, the wine kept on the lees throughout. Even though the period of time in barrel is not lengthy, and the wood is not new, this cuvée always seems, to my palate, to be heavily marked by the use of oak. Chardonnay also now makes an appearance, in a wine shaped by its fermentation in amphorae, with extended skin contact (and by ‘extended’ I mean not six hours, or six days, but six months); when I first tasted this wine in February 2014 it had no name, but when I encountered it again in May 2014 it had been christened Ange (to match the Ange Pinot Noir) and that is the name I use in my notes below. It is very much in the ‘orange wine’ spectrum.

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