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Clos les Montys Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie ‘Vigne de 1914’ 2019

Clos les Montys Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie ‘Vigne de 1914’ 2019

I have been enjoying checking out some recent vintages from Muscadet over the past few months, not least because there is so much joy in the wines. They are so different to the vicariously formed preconceptions I held about Muscadet two or three decades ago, before I decided to begin exploring this region and its wines for myself.

While the region has no shortage of cult domaines, there is much to be discovered beyond the obvious names. Jérémie Huchet is one vigneron whose wines I have come to admire, both those he produces from vines in the extensive Huchet family holdings, as well as the wines he makes with his pal Jérémie Mourat, the pair having teamed up a few years ago to create Les Bêtes Curieuses. The Huchet family have a number of well-known domaines in their possession, but one of the most noteworthy is the Clos les Montys.

The Clos les Montys was once a possession of Jean de Saint-Aignan, a 15th-century nobleman; he had a grand residence here, of which today only a single stone tower still stands. The château that now looks over the vines was built during the early 19th century by François-Léonard Seheult (1771 – 1840), a renowned architect responsible for some of the most notable buildings in Nantes. Like many properties in the region, château and vineyard were ultimately separated; the former now operates as a hotel, while the vineyard came into the hands of the Marquis de Goulaine, another noble family, members of which accompanied Louis IX (1214 – 1270) on the seventh crusade in 1248. It finally came into the possession of Jérémie Huchet in 2001.

Clos Les Montys Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Vigne de 1914 2019

The soils here are for the most part sandy and silty, as is the case for much of the Nantais vineyard, firstly because this is the usual result of degradation of the many hard igneous and metamorphic rocks of the Massif Armoricain, secondly because this is a very alluvial region, the soils shaped by the presence of the Loire, the Sèvre, the Maine, the Lac de Grand Lieu and the seasonal marshes of the Marais de Goulaine. The bedrock at the Clos les Montys is a mix of amphibolite and metagabbro; these are both ophiolites, rocks which started out on the seabed and which have been lifted up to this position by plate tectonics. In the northern part of the vineyard the soils are very thin, allowing the vines to latch onto these hard, blue-green rocks.

In keeping with the site’s remarkable history, many of the vines are also very old. The most ancient are those planted in 1914, although other sections in the clos were planted in 1917, 1922 and 1926. This weekend’s wine features fruit from only the oldest vines, of which there is just 1 hectare planted. The work in the vines is certified organic. The freshly-picked fruit goes through a pneumatic press and then fermented using yeasts selected from the vineyard. After that the vinification is pretty standard for the region, with élevage on the lees, and bottling within the time limit for the sur lie designation, which is before the end of December the following year (this is one of several Muscadet rules which has changed recently – the cut-off used to be the end of November).

In the glass the 2019 Clos les Montys Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie ‘Vigne de 1914’ shows a shimmering, straw-coloured hue. There follows a delightfully scented nose, perfumed with intertwined threads of mineral and fruit. The former presents as smoky crushed flint, the latter as sweet orchard and citrus fruits, especially freshly cut pear and tangerine zest, with threads of chamomile, lemon peel and mint. The palate brings all this together with an impressive vinosity which it is tempting to ascribe to the concentration that comes from old vines, backed up by a tingling spine of minerality and a diaphanous and delicate acid lift. All in all this is absolutely charming, fresh and lightly bitter, with no shortage of character. Hats off to Jérémie Huchet. 93/100

For another expression of the vineyard at Clos les Montys, I also recommend tracking down Jérémie Huchet’s other cuvée Les Montys Le Parc, from younger vines (well, they could hardly be older, could they?). (27/9/21)

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