Muscadet wine and history blend in the Northern Loire Valley of France. This is a favored wine for seafood and the finest wine for oysters.
This wine is produced throughout the region, where the Loire River meets the sea. Yet it is worth remembering that the grape of Muscadet, the Melon de Bourgogne, is a rather thin grape. It is often bolstered after harvest by continuing contact of the grapes with their lees (pips and grape skins), to lend body to the juice as it develops. The practice is widespread, and the label on your bottle should specify that it is “Muscadet sur lie.” Then you will know you are tasting the wine at its best.
Muscadet, is neither costly nor rare. It is a perfect complement to fish and shellfish such as crabs. My wife and I recall lunch at the Old Port of La Rochelle enjoying Muscadet with freshly caught fish. This enjoyable and wine should be easy to find. You may find recent vintages of the following:
- Muscadet La Quilla ($9)
- Muscadet Moulin Camus ($10)
- and Muscadet Chereau-Carre “Chasseloir” ($11)
My favorite remains Muscadet Marquis de Goulaine. It is a Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie, from the Pays Nantais in the Loire Valley, and it retails for $14 a bottle. The wine is rather full bodied, while remaining fresh and a pleasure to drink. This is not a light wine, like Sylvaner. It has enough body and flavor to stand up to firm foods. Well chilled, it matched the lobster pies that served at our daughter’s wedding supper.
I visited this historic property near Nantes thirty years ago, and also became a member of the Chevaliers de Bretvin. I recall tasting the Muscadet on a fine fall day after another successful harvest. Our host was the Marquis Robert de Goulaine, the thirtieth generation of owners of this distinguished property. It is now passed on to his wife and son, Christophe.
The estate, with a few generations interruption in the nineteenth century, has been in the hands of the Goulaine family since the twelfth century. The bottles bear the royal arms of France and England. This recalls an early Marquis who negotiated truces between the nations during the Hundred Years War, when the property must have seen the front lines of the endless conflict. And Marquis Robert added, for the delight of visitors and his family, a large butterfly aviary in 1984.
I have discovered that the Chateau de Goulaine—said to be the oldest European family owned business, and perhaps the last chateau of the Loire to be actually producing wine—has now broadened its choices. Besides the flagship Muscadet, you may also savor their Pouilly-Fume, as well as their La Roseraie Rose d’Anjou. Their flagship Muscadet was released in a special “Millenaire” edition several years ago, recalling the years of this wine production.
Savor the wines, and by all means, visit this historic chateau. Delight in serving Muscadet to guests. And do not forget to recall your wine discoveries from the Northern Loire Valley.