Domaine de la Quilla Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2010
I’m only human, you know. I like to think I am reasonably controlled in the manner in which I approach my bottles that are due for opening. It is almost by a process of negotiation that some make their way to my dining table. After all, a lot of them have been lying in the cellar for a long time; it can be quite a shock for them to be summarily dragged into the limelight and suddenly expected to perform. Nevertheless, the festive season has weakened my courteous resolve, and more than a few bottles have been awoken from their slumber and put to the test over the past week or two. Some, such as the four different vintages of Bollinger’s La Grand Année that were lined up on New Year’s Eve, will be written up as is appropriate. Other’s, such as the 1985 Port from Delaforce, were not particularly remarkable and do not demand that much fuss be made of them, whereas others, such as the 1988 Vieux Télégraphe, were sublime but have already been my Weekend Wine, albeit quite a few years ago now.
All in good time. True to my expressed intent, which in case you missed it was stated in the final instalment of my 2011 Wine in Context updates, I’m delaying any further mention of these other wines for at least one day while I instead turn my attention towards a Loire domaine that I have been hitherto unfamiliar with. Today’s Weekend Wine comes from the Vinet brothers, of Domaine de la Quilla in Muscadet’s heartland, La Haye-Fouassière. The domaine was founded in 1948 by Gustave Vinet, but today it is his two sons, Gérard and Daniel, that run the estate. This is no micro-domaine, the family having 60 hectares (planted solely with Melon de Bourgogne) dotted around La Haye-Fouassière and Château Thébaud, and naturally this means there is a broad spread of the classic Muscadet terroirs here, everything from schist and micaschist to gneiss and amphibolite.
Despite this extensive domaine the range of cuvées here is focused, with the straight domaine cuvée accompanied by three other wines sourced from particular terroirs, such as the Clos de la Houssaie which comes from 70-year old vines on amphibolite and serpentinite. But it is the entry-level domaine cuvée (shown above) I feature here, an assemblage from a variety of terroirs spread over 28 hectares of the domaine. The domaine is not biodynamic or organic, the Vinet brothers choosing la lutte raisonnée, a farming system which permits the use of chemicals as long as they are applied in a minimalistic, reasoned manner rather than the napalm-like usage you can see in some more industrially-farmed vineyards. And let’s not get snooty or superior about this; it’s easy to obsess over only biodynamic domaines, but to ignore those vignerons who have followed a different path is to fool ourselves that (a) great wine can only come from biodynamic vineyards, which is plainly not true, and that (b) by ignoring such domaines we somehow send a message that only wine from biodynamic vines, made using ‘natural’ principles, is acceptable and worth reporting on. This also isn’t true.
With that thought, let’s get onto the wine, the 2010 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie from Domaine de la Quilla. The wine once in the glass has a pale hue, although it is not water white and certainly has a good, straw-coloured tinge. The aromatics are very convincing, intense and expressive. There are notes of lemon zest at first, later on a great minerality comes to the fore, giving the wine an almost sherbetty feel, and there are more savoury saline tinges to it as well. It seems deliciously rocky and bright, with just a little rubbed thyme adding some interest, but it is that crunchy, defined mineral character that really impresses me. On the palate it is beautifully bright and substantial, broad and defined, with a great core of energy here. It is vigorous and exciting, and as the nose suggested overall a very convincing wine. Peel away the minerality and you find deeper white fruit notes in the background, and a really peppery, pear-skin edge to the fruit. In the end it is sappy and lively. A lovely wine. I feel I’ve made a good discovery here, and I would like to taste more from this domaine. 15.5/20 (2/1/12)