Muscadet Crus Communaux Retrospective, 2019
Clisson & Château Thébaud

The arrival of troisième niveau Muscadet, most commonly encountered through the wines of the cru communal appellations (although there are other long-lees-aged wines made outside these of zones and regulations) is surely the most exciting development to have emerged from the Muscadet melting pot during the last few decades. In advance of a new round of Muscadet tastings to come (as I head out to the Loire Valley later this week), I thought I might take this opportunity to spend a little time looking back at some recent (and some not so recent) vintages of wines made within the crus communaux.

First, a quick word on the cru communal system, which might not be immediately familiar. These are not crus like those in Chablis or the Côte d’Or, where a grand cru or premier cru is a tightly defined sliver of land, mere ownership of which (or rental, or even just purchase of the fruit) entitles the vigneron to use the name of the cru to describe the resulting wine. Rather, these are communal zones encompassing large swathes of the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine vineyard. Within each zone there are many parcels which could be eligible for cru status; it is down to the vigneron to identify them and register their intent, in advance of the vintage, to produce a cru communal wine.

Muscadet Crus Communaux Clisson & Château-Thébaud

Once the parcels have been inspected and signed off as suitable, the vigneron must then adhere to the prescribed methods for that particular cru in both vineyard and cellars. As a result, while there are in theory thousands of hectares that are eligible, as of 2017 there were only 70 hectares of land dedicated to the three ratified crus. Once these have been joined by the four crus I expect to see signed off in 2019 this figure will probably rise to a few hundred hectares.

In this two-part report I set out to examine four prominent cru communal zones, two of which were ratified in 2011, while the other two still await formal sign-off. I begin here with two crus which feature granite, Clisson, which was signed off in 2011, and Château-Thébaud, which at the time of writing still awaits ratification. In part two I look at two more crus, Gorges and Monnières-Saint-Fiacre.

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