Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie
There is little more exciting in wine than uncovering new talent, finding a little-known and under-appreciated vigneron turning out wines which are worthy of our time and attention. Last year (we’re in 2019 now – just a quick reminder) I used my Weekend Wine slot to cast the spotlight on all sorts of less familiar names. There was Muscadet from Pétard Bazile, Les Grands Presbytères, Domaine des Tilleuls and Complemen’Terre (a domaine I went on to visit just last month, profile to follow soon), a quite brilliant Anjou from Pierre Menard, of a quality to revivify the most jaded of palates, some quirky bulles from Domaine Ricard and even a handful of overlooked names in Bordeaux, such as Domaine du Jaugaret (which I guess some will know, but it will be news to others) and Château Bel Air Perponcher.
Sometimes, though, I find it beneficial (and pleasurable) to reaffirm my grasp of the classics, and I can’t think of a better way of doing that, nor indeed a better way of eschewing any notion of a dry January, than with a glass or two of the 2017 Briords from Domaine de la Pépière. Having recently tasted my way through twenty-or-so cru communal wines from the region (something quite different to this traditional sur lie wine, so more on that at another time…. in other words, report to follow), including more than a handful from Marc Ollivier and team, I was reminded of the superior quality to be found at this domaine. This look back at the 2017 seems to fit right in with that conclusion.
There is not really any mystery about the Briords cuvée; I think it is merely a matter of good terroir, meticulous organic methods in the vines, and a considered approach to both harvest and vinification. The vineyard itself sits right on the banks of the Maine, a stone’s throw from the cellars, but it is just 3 hectares of old vines, propagated by sélection massale and planted between 1930 and 1950, which provide the fruit for this cuvée. Underfoot, beneath superficial soils of gravel and clay, there is granite. While this terroir is fairly typical for this corner of the Muscadet appellation, around Château-Thébaud and Clisson, it is not commonplace and contributes towards the rare character of the wine. The fruit is picked by hand, again not commonplace, and after pressing the juice is vinified in traditional subterranean cuves, and bottled after eight or nine months on the lees.
The 2017 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Briords is the latest in a long procession of cuvées and vintages from this domaine to have passed through my cellar, it being a valuable source of excellent long-lees-aged wines. But, when it comes to value for money, I think it almost impossible to beat this cuvée. In the glass it shows a very fresh and pale straw-coloured hue. Aromatically it is completely classic in style, leading with the scents of peach, pear and green apple, all laced with a whisp of saline minerality. While totally correct, there is no denying it has an evocative and expressive confidence. The palate has everything you could ask for, with zesty and pithy citrus fruit to the fore, showing a slightly bitter frame, but with plenty of substance, energy and a captivating salty-smoky depth. Vigorous and biting, this is an deliciously charming Muscadet, with a focused, mouthwatering, spine-tingling central chord of acids and minerals. Another top notch effort from Marc, Rémi and Gwénaëlle. 94/100
Postscript: At the time of posting I have just noticed that the 2017 has been christened Briords, rather than Clos des Briords. I asked why this was at the Salon des Vins de Loire; see my 2019 Domaine de la Pépière update for more. (14/1/19)
Read more in:
- My guide to Muscadet Sèvre et Maine
- My report on the Loire 2017 vintage
- My guide to Melon de Bourgogne