Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie
Clos des Briords 2014
It’s Bordeaux antidote time. A lifeline for all the Loire fanatics who come here, only to find that Winedoctor was last week dominated by a series of lengthy articles looking at Bordeaux 2015. Grab this lifeline, Ligérian-minded imbibers, and hold on for dear life. Only another week-or-so of Bordeaux primeurs reports to go, then the balance and harmony will return. In other words, we will have a little more Melon de Bourgogne and Montlouis, and a little less Merlot and Margaux. Oh, apart from that 2006 Bordeaux report coming up, a look at 60-plus wines from the vintage as it hits ten year’s of age, that is. But let’s not dwell on that.
Is there any wine more likely to induce a sign of appreciation, perhaps even a sigh of relief, from the Loire-knowledgeable than Clos des Briords from Domaine de la Pépière? Well probably there are a few, anything from Clos Rougeard for example (which, speaking of Bordeaux, could wipe the floor with many châteaux there not only in terms of quality these days, but also in terms of price), maybe Philippe Foreau, Didier Dagueneau, François Chidaine too I think, and probably a handful of others. But this wine from Marc Ollivier is my choice for today. Speaking of price, is Clos des Briords the greatest bargain in the world of wine? Let’s just hope it doesn’t go the same way as Clos Rougeard, which I fear from now on is more likely to appear in the tastings section of certain big-name wine publications alongside Bordeaux first growths, Napa Valley cult wines and the most exalted names of Burgundy than it is to appear in our cellars.
It must be all these primeurs reports that has brought about these slightly maudlin thoughts about price and perceived value, and less about what it is in the bottle. So let’s get back to what is really interesting about wine; the flavour, not the price sticker. The 2014 vintage was an excellent one for Muscadet, and indeed one of my favourites in recent years. From a Muscadet drinker’s point of view this is a lovely vintage; it is flavoursome and confident, but it also has that acid cut that we Muscadet fans like to find in our wine. I am quite sure that it surpasses 2013 in terms of quality, and I am beginning to wonder whether it may ultimately prove superior to the 2012 (otherwise, this is currently my absolute favourite vintage of recent years) and 2010 vintages, both of which were of very high quality. As for Muscadet in 2015, this has much richer fruit, so will appeal to some palates more on these grounds, but the acid definition is not so pure. Marc Ollivier himself summed it up perfectly when I met up with him only a couple of months ago. Speaking of 2015, he concluded “it is a vintage with less vivacity than 2014”.
So, on with the wine. The 2014 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie from the Clos des Briords, Marc Ollivier’s leading sur lie cuvée (in my opinion, anyway – but I am sure Les Gras Moutons would also get a few votes) shows a pale and limpid colour in the glass. It has a fabulous nose, very active, showing everything you could wish for, with a bitter touch of citrus pith and white pear skin, and a quite salty minerality. This is pure, classic, and impressive. The palate is full, poised, showing both impact and balance, with textural depth built upon foundations of pithy citrus fruit, and above that a lightly peppery saline twist, with a calcareous confidence going into the finish. Overall this combines a delicious succulence, showing a little weight, with a fine and fresh acidity, together with a seam of pebbly minerality. All these features move forward together into the finish, in complete harmony. This is a wine with super composition, confident and totally at ease with itself. I have to confess this is one 2014 I have tasted recently that calls me to question my belief that the 2012 vintage is the best in recent years. 17/20 (18/4/16)