Guilbaud Frères, 2021 Update
Guilbaud Frères is not the most well-known of names in Muscadet circles, but the Guilbaud family have had a presence in this region for many years. The domaine was established by brothers Edouard and Marcel Guilbaud, themselves descended from a long line of vignerons, in 1927. The domaine was passed to Marcel’s son, also called Marcel. I recall meeting Marcel junior when I first visited the domaine in 2013. At the time he was 86 years old, and he cut a sprightly figure. Indeed, he could have passed for sixty, a good advertisement for the health benefits of drinking Muscadet, I am sure. The domaine then passed to the third generation, Pascal Guilbaud.
The Guilbaud family own several domaines and cellars in the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine appellation, in the communes of Mouzillon, Vallet and Gorges. This is not an uncommon finding, for simple economic reasons; the profit per bottle in Muscadet is so small that if a vigneron is to thrive or even just survive it helps to have a lot of bottles to sell. You can scrape a living in various Anjou or Touraine vineyards with 4 hectares (although it helps to have more), but in Muscadet life gets better with 40 hectares. The most dedicated run domaines double this size.
The Guilbaud family also operate as négociants, turning out a range of wines from up and down the Loire Valley. I confess I have never investigated these wines, perhaps reflecting a bias against the concept of a négociant producing wines from such disparate appellations (it works in Burgundy, but the Côte d’Or is a lot smaller than the entire Loire Valley). But I thought it might be worth my time checking in on some recent Muscadet releases, so I report here on three current releases from the domaine.