Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie
Cuvée Eden Les Gras Moutons 2009
I make no apologies for returning this week to Domaine de la Pépière, the Muscadet domaine run by Marc Ollivier which I featured in this Weekend Wine segment of Winedoctor only a few weeks ago, when I focused on his 2009 Cuvée Granit. The wine, a cool-climate blend dominated by Cabernet Franc but also incorporating Cot, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, all from granite terroirs, was just lovely. Having said that, when I first tasted Marc Ollivier’s red cuvées I wasn’t immediately convinced; they seemed, on that occasion at least, to have such a stark seam of stone and steel that I didn’t find much pleasure. Since then I’ve tasted more, and moderated my view considerably. Indeed, the 2009 Granit alone would certainly have been sufficient to dissuade me of that view point, showing as it did a deliciously sappy cushion of fruit alongside its rather electric backbone.
Nevertheless I am sure there are many for who these wines will always display their more northerly and sea-breezy origins too plainly, for a red wine at least. If you are to persuade those individuals of the merits of Pépière it might be wiser to pour one of Marc’s astonishingly vibrant Muscadets, the wine on which his redoubtable international reputation surely rests. By and large these are very structured examples of the type, originating from the same seams of granite that give Marc his red Cuvée Granit, but one exception to this rule is Cuvée Eden, also known as Les Gras Moutons, which is sourced from vines planted on gneiss, a metamorphic derivative of granite. I find the wine tends to have a more effusive energy than Marc’s granite cuvées, and I do wonder if this isn’t a mark of the terroir.
Devotees of Marc Ollivier and his wines have been watching the development of the Cuvée Eden with anticipation over the past few years. Once a blend of fruit taken from a small plot of vines in Les Gras Moutons, a favoured vineyard near Saint Fiacre, together with two plots of vines near Maisdon sur Sèvre where Marc is based. From the 2008 vintage, though, Marc has had enough vines – about 2 hectares of vines aged about 85 years (having been planted in 1926) in several different sections – to make a wine from fruit sourced purely from Les Gras Moutons; I had thought that with that move he would drop the Eden moniker, but glimpses of the 2008 and now also the 2009 labels suggest otherwise.
The fruit for this wine was hand harvested, not common in the Muscadet appellations, fermented by wild yeasts at a cool temperature, before resting en cuve until bottling the following year after approximately seven months on the lees. The finished wine has a pale hue and, initially at least, a very clean and bright aromatic character. But then with a little more time in the glass it starts to show more evocative elements, notes of peach juice and sherbet, along with a very floral streak over a more stony base. On the palate a fresh and sappy style, full, quite juicy, broad and pervasive. Lots of lovely tingly minerality reflecting that sherbetty element found on the nose, with an appealingly bitter, lemon zest twist to it as well. Full of life despite the slightly fleshy, peachy character it possesses, especially into the finish which has a good, stony punch. This is delicious stuff – it will be difficult to keep my hands off my remaining bottles! 17.5/20 (21/3/11)