Clos les Montys Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie ‘Vigne de 1914’ 2012
After spending a long time this morning trying to resolve the many questions whirling around in my head, I have decided instead to focus on wine. Not on wine writers, nor on philosophical wine debate, not on the seemingly inexorable rise in prices of the very best wines and certainly not on the farce of wine score inflation or indeed the whole concept of scoring wine at all. All these topics deserve some discussion, but perhaps my weekly Weekend Wine report isn’t the place. I think here, in future, I shall focus more on the wine, the vintage, the terroir, the winemaker and his story, much as I do with my many Bordeaux and Loire profiles. I shall leave more contentious issues for my blog, where readers can tell me how much rubbish I am talking.
So to this week’s wine, and not for the first time we are off to Muscadet. This is a region which turns out fabulously vibrant wines, superb in their youth and capable of aging (now there’s a contentious issue for debate already). The wine is made by Jérémie Huchet, a successful name in the region, although not one I have given much time or space to on Winedoctor before. The Huchet family (father Yves and son Jérémie, to be precise) have built up quite a Muscadet empire over the years, with four different domaines to their name, and very recently Jérémie has also started a new cru communal project with his namesake from the Fiefs-Vendéens, Jérémie Mourat, named Les Bêtes Curieuses.
Here I shall focus on just one of the four Huchet domaines, Clos les Montys. This vineyard is located north of the Sèvre, east of Nantes, in the Marais de Goulaine. I have written of this slice of the Muscadet vineyards before (in my Pierre Luneau-Papin profile in particular); it is best known for the Butte de la Roche, an arrow-shaped mound of rock planted with vines and surrounded by wild bocage, essentially Loire scrubland. This surrounding land tends to flood each winter, but the vines are safe atop their mound of metamorphic rock. Ask any Muscadet expert and they will tell you that the terroir of the Butte de la Roche is serpentinite, but of course as always the truth is a little more complex than that; there are several metamorphic rock types running together here, including amphibolite and metagabbro. Clos les Montys has its vines on both, covered by a thin layer of superficial sandy-gravelly soils. There is a prevailing opinion that wines from grapes grown on such terroirs have great minerality and potential for aging; certainly this is true of gabbro, as seen with the wines of André-Michel Brégeon, although my thoughts on amphibolite are naturally coloured by Jo Landron’s cuvée of the same name, which is so bright and saline, and really intended for drinking young. This may be a case of a self-fulfilling prophecy, however, as Jo bottles the wine young and sells it quick, without significant time on the lees, and perhaps this has as much influence on the wine as the terroir.
Anyway, I digress. The best (the only, surely) way to judge is to taste the wine for myself. The cuvée under the microscope here comes from the older vines on the domaine, which were planted in 1914, with other parcels planted in 1917, 1922 and 1926. Cuvées made from old vines such as these are one of the joys of Muscadet I find. These older vines tend to be planted in the northern section of the vineyard, where the soils are thinnest and the bedrock most exposed. The Clos les Montys Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie ‘Vigne de 1914’ 2012 has an attractive pale but polished hue. The nose is full, expressive even, with open and accessible aromas of pear-skin and citrus fruit tinged with nuances of thyme, and there is a saline twist to it as well which I do find reminiscent of Jo Landron’s Amphibolite, although the surrounding framework of fruit and herb feels very different. The palate has the substance that the nose suggested, with a solid grip at the wine’s core, with some beautifully peppery acidity dancing all around it. This is a wine of substance more than verve, with a texture and weight that perhaps says something about the very old age these vines possess as much as the terroir. Overall this is convincing, long, ripe yet lively, an enjoyable and slightly meaty style of Muscadet which I think will develop in a positive manner over the next five to ten years. 16/20 (20/10/14)