Domaine Martin Muscadet Ocean NV
For my penultimate Weekend Wine report of 2022 (yes, I will be squeezing one final wine in next week, at some moment during the Christmas-New Year interregnum) we are off to Muscadet. Not for the first time, you might say. Although this wine is certainly a ‘first’ in at least one way, both for Winedoctor, and me personally.
It’s a wine in a can.
The issue of alternative packaging formats occupied quite a few column inches during 2022, and rightly so; there are a myriad reasons why the traditional 750ml glass bottle is the wrong vessel for wine. First is the environmental impact of glass, both its manufacture, its transport, and finding a purpose for those bottles submitted for recycling; in an ideal world they would be washed and reused, or at the very least melted down for reuse, but in truth much ‘recycled’ glass ends up as building aggregate.
And while the combination of glass bottle and cork (or some equivalent closure) is a tried and tested method for the storing of ageworthy wine, that is not the fate to which most wine purchases are subjected. We are constantly being told that 95% of wine is consumed on the day of purchase. This ‘fact’ appears to be little more than urban legend, but back in 2018 a study from Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute demonstrated that it is not far from the truth; while only 20% is consumed within 24 hours, 90% of wine is consumed within two weeks of purchase. In which case, why are these wines being sold in heavy glass bottles rather than more convenient cans, Tetrapaks, or bag-in-box?
Then there is the issue of portion size; alternative formats can facilitate smaller portion sizes, which can bring consumption benefits. And it is convenient too; small cans can be squeezed into a cooler, alongside the rest of your picnic, which makes it ideal for days at the beach, or out on the boat (I don’t actually own a boat, but you get the idea).
Of course, the big stumbling block for anyone reading this is surely the quality of the wine inside the can (or indeed any of the other alternative materials and methods mentioned above). And yet I have it on good authority that the quality of canned and bag-in-box wines is on the rise. Of course, there is one easy way to see if that might be true…
The source of this wine is Domaine Martin, in Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine, a domaine which boasts a proud viticultural history stretching back to the very early years of the 20th century. Currently at the press is Dominique Martin, the fourth generation of the Martin family to take on the running of this 35-hectare estate. Dominique produces a rather modest portfolio of wines, but it does include a Monnières-Saint-Fiacre cru communal wine. I have not written on the domaine on Winedoctor before, but I have tasted the wines many times when judging the Loire category at the Decanter World Wine Awards; I recall we awarded a rare gold medal to Dominique’s 2010 Monnières-Saint-Fiacre cuvée back in 2015.
Coming back to the wine in the can, this is an entry-level Muscadet, in this case hailing from the 2021 vintage, although this is not declared on the label. It is a 250ml serving, which is plenty for one (very) large glass, or it can be shared as two smaller, more sensibly sized pours (I believe there is a smaller 187.5ml size available). Popped (if that is the right term for opening a can) and poured, in the glass the Domaine Martin Muscadet Ocean reveals aromas of green apple skin and peach stone, with effusive notes of citrus, crushed chalk and fresh thyme. It is undeniably Muscadet in its aromatic profile. It has a quite plush, textural confidence on the palate, cut through with bitter herby notes, crushed chalk and fine acidity, before finishing with a deliciously bitter twist. This is a really charming, mouth-watering, entry-level Muscadet which I would drink any day of the week, and importantly – coming back to this wine’s unique feature – it presents no hint of metallic flavour or indeed anything that would suggest this has not been poured from a glass bottle. 89/100
All in all, I think this concept a great success, and I wish Dominique Martin (and his business partner Half Full Wines, who presumably provide the canning savoir faire) all the best. I hope to taste more canned wines from Dominique in the future. And maybe from one or two other domaines, too? Here’s hoping. My recycling bin stands ready. (19/12/22)
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