Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine
If you have a long memory, you may recall that in previous years I have taken to totting up the regions represented in my weekly Weekend Wine feature just to be sure that the Loire Valley had more than its fair share of the limelight (it is a rare moment of positive discrimination for this wine region, so often overlooked – not by me though – in favour of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace or similar). I know the cynical among you all will look at this recent run of wines from the Loire Valley – I featured the 1990 Quarts de Chaume from Château Bellerive last week, and Pépies Bulles also from Domaine de la Pépière the week before that – and suspect that I am merely trying to ‘enhance’ my end-of-year figures. You are, of course, completely correct.
Well, not entirely. This mini-run of Loire Valley wines is more to balance out what had come during the preceding weeks, which included wines from Alsace, Burgundy, Beaujolais and even South Africa. It is also because during the past couple of weeks I’ve taken in quite a few wine deliveries, some wines long-awaited, such as the 2009s (Sec, Moelleux and Moelleux Réserve) from Philippe Foreau (which I originally ordered about twelve months ago – I’m sure there’s a story there), a top-up of the 2007s (both Noëls de Montbenault and Clos des Rouliers) from Richard Leroy (while I wait for the 2009s to arrive) and a selection of 2009s and 2010s from Domaine de la Pépière, including the 2010 Clos de Briords, 2010 Cuvée Granit and 2009 Clisson. I wouldn’t want you to think I don’t put my money where my mouth is when I recommend these wines; hopefully these data will go some way to assuaging you of such negative thoughts!
And so, despite the recently featured Pépies Bulles, it’s time for another wine from Marc Ollivier, in the shape of the just-delivered 2009 Clisson. I just adore this cuvée, and desperately hunted around for more of the 2005 and 2007 to add to the cellar, as all (well, almost all) of my original bottles have strangely disappeared. Unfortunately, wines such as these are like gold dust; unlike top-class Bordeaux which is traded for decades after release, once a year or two has passed and the merchants lucky enough to hold stock have sold out, you just can’t find these wines. Having said that, unbelievably (to me) there is still (at the time of writing) one merchant in the USA carrying bottles of the 2005. Snap these up if you are anywhere near Florida, or if the crazy inter-state shipping laws don’t prohibit a purchase from further afield; you won’t be disappointed. The same is true of the 2007, which has slightly wider availability, although again only in the USA. This should come as no surprise; the American market is much more awake to these wines than we are here in the UK, and it is where Marc sends the vast majority of his exports.
Anyway, onto the 2009, and the label (above) adds two new plotlines to the story of Domaine de la Pépière, and to Muscadet as a whole. I will not expand on these in great detail here, but will do so in a forthcoming Pépière update. First of all, suffice to say Marc has taken on a young associate named Remi Branger, as I described in my report on Pépies Bulles. Secondly, note that the name of this cuvée has changed from Granite de Clisson to plain Clisson, in accordance with the new cru communal regulations, Clisson having been included in the first wave of crus legally ratified during 2011. Sadly, terroir-derived names for these crus were rejected in favour of purely geographical ones, which to me seems like madness, but that’s what we have. So no more ‘granite’ here. For more details, see part two of my Muscadet guide. As for the wine itself, the 2009 Clisson has a pale hue – nothing unusual about that considering the cool-climate origins – and yet this belies the hugely expressive nose which is minerally and sherbetty, stuffed with crushed rocks and sliced lemon citrus zest, with just a little hint of creamy substance in the background perhaps denoting the richness of the vintage. It doesn’t have the profound intensity of Andre-Michel Brégeon’s 2004 Gorges, but it comes close, despite the fact that Brégeon’s wine spent about double the amount of time on the lees that this one has. The start of the palate is fresh and sappy, and yet laden down with substance and breadth. Through the middle it shows this weight more clearly, although this comes with a fine, precise, very linear acid backbone which persists through to the finish. It is lively and substantial, with a very long, sappy, citrus-infused finish. There are beautiful tones of stone fruit and white pepper swirling around in the centre of the wine, which has quite savoury tones. Deliciously complex, this is an exciting, vigorous, beautifully composed wine which is a delight to drink now, despite my occasional twinge of infanticide-related guilt as I think this will go for many, many years in the cellar. 18.5/20 (12/12/11)