Two Muscadet Dinners, 2013

On a recent trip to Nantes I was delighted to have dinner with several vignerons from across the Muscadet vineyard. Some faces around the table were familiar to me, including Bruno Cormerais and Jo Landron, both well-known names to fans of Muscadet. Some were less familiar though; these included François Lieubeau of Domaine de la Fruitière, and Jean-Luc Ollivier of Ollivier Père et Fils.

The meals were clearly intended to showcase the broad range of wines produced in the Muscadet region, and in that respect I thought they did a good job. Although homage was paid to the wine’s long association with sea food, oysters in particular, we explored facets of Muscadet which – to most people although, being honest, not me – would be quite novel. This included aged Muscadet (and by aged I don’t mean two or three years old – more like two or three decades), exploring the new, richer crus communaux Muscadets, and also matching Muscadet with foods other than shellfish; this meant everything from rather safe propositions such as white fish, to foie gras and game birds. Here I report on some of the wines, and how these dinners, which took place on two consecutive evenings, unfolded.

Two Muscadet Dinners

At the first dinner we kicked off with wines from the 1978 and 1982 vintages from Jean-Luc Ollivier (pictured above) of Ollivier Père et Fils. Jean-Luc is a cousin of Marc Ollivier, of Domaine de la Pépière, and has been working on the family domaine since 1980. He brought along two wines poured as apéros on the terrace of the restaurant L’Atlantide, which overlooks the Loire as it flows through Nantes, affording diners a unique panoramic view of cranes, docks and a lone warship. I thought the wines showed very well, being quite typical of aged Muscadet; they lose the bite and cut that makes them such great sea food wines in their youth, and develop softer flavours and textures, more like desiccated fruit and brioche, although often cut through with a very typical crystalline-mineral seam. For me, the 1978 eclipsed the 1982. I had the feeling, however, that other diners – all UK journalists and bloggers – were struggling somewhat with the character of the wines, which I suspect lay far outside their Muscadet preconceptions.

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