Pierre Luneau-Papin, 2015 Update

Covering any wine region in detail means trying to discover new talent, but it is an undeniable fact that you also have to know and revisit the benchmark domaines. Dare I suggest that you can’t write about Bordeaux with knowing the wines of Château Latour and Château Ausone, for example, and likewise I suspect you can’t write with authority on Burgundy without having at least some experience with Domaine de la Romanée Conti or Domaine Leroy. So too it is in Muscadet, although at least here the benchmark domaines make wines we can all still afford to drink. There are just a small handful of such domaines, and although most fans of the region probably have their own favourites I don’t think anyone can deny that Pierre Luneau-Papin is one such benchmark. At the top end, such as the Cuvée Le L d’Or and the Cuvée Excelsior, the wines display exceptional quality, sufficient to charm the tastebuds of any Muscadet geek. But the wines made by the Luneau-Papin family have another attribute which reinforces their benchmark status, and that is reliability, vintage-in, vintage-out. You only have to taste their 2011s (delicious) against those of their peers (largely awful) to realise that this is a domaine where you get to drink something good in every vintage, not just the more favourable years.

Domaine Luneau-Papin

The Wines

I met up with Pierre’s son Pierre-Marie Luneau (pictured above) in February 2015 to taste the latest releases. As is customary we tasted some 2014 brut de cuve samples, and these tasting notes I have already published in my Muscadet 2014 report. Then it was on with the 2013s, plus some older vintages. I kicked off with the 2013 La Folle Blanche, a wine with an interesting story to tell. A few years ago Folle Blanche, the traditional grape variety of the Cognac and Armagnac regions of France, was more widely known in the Muscadet region as Gros Plant, and sold under the Gros Plant du Pays Nantais appellation. Gros Plant grapes tend to have high acidity (which means the variety is a good choice for distillation, hence its popularity in regions that produce brandy), even higher than Muscadet, and the wines have long been regarded as Muscadet’s poorer cousin. Which is for many people, I suspect, a bit like saying someone is a little less personable than Hannibal Lecter. The Luneau-Papins seem set to wipe the Gros Plant slate clean though. They have 3 hectares of this variety planted on schist, the fruit is fermented cool and held sur lie for six months before bottling, and the resulting wine is proving popular with French sommeliers. I suspect the fact that the bottle has received a makeover in recent years, and the wine is marketed using the more appealing name of Folle Blanche instead of Gros Plant, may also have helped.

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