Andrew Guard

Muscadet Sèvre et Maine

After a disastrous frost in 1709 wiped out most of the mediocre red grapes that were originally planted around Nantes, Louis XIV ordered the growers to come up with a white replacement. They chose a Burgundian grape called the melon, actually an offshoot of Gamay, the grape of Beaujolais.

Jerome Bretaudeau set up on his own in 2005 having made wine for others for the previous 10 years, notably Jo Landron at Domaine de la Louvetrie.

His Domaine de Belle-Vue is today one of the leading lights in the region and the quality of his wines is outstanding, indeed there is an underground buzz on these wines amongst France’s best wine bars and bistros.

Three things set him way apart from the rest and are the reason that his wines are so good; he harvests by hand, his vines yield only 35hl/ha (in a region where 90hl/ha is normal!) and he only uses the available natural yeasts for fermentation. With these principles in mind, Bretaudeau stands beside others in our portfolio like Belliviere, Tue-Boeuf and Foillard.

He has 8 hectares in the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine AOC in two separate plots. The first has clay soils and vines planted between 1950 and 1960; it's the larger of the two and produces a softer, more generous wine - still briny, steely and mineral, it has an attractive green apple flavour and is deliciously thirst quenching.

The second has granite soils and vines planted in 1920; this produces very fine, very mineral wine; tight as a drum yet silken and sensual, it tastes of flint and flowers and is very inspired drinking. Next time one of your customers asks you about 'terroir' you could pour them a glass of this by way of explanation.

Muscadet is delightful when young and is generally consumed within a few years of the vintage yet, believe it or not, a good bottle like Jerome’s can evolve with age into a wine that combines the racy acidity and almost kerosene aroma of older Riesling with it’s enticing nutlike, mineral and honey flavours. And it is still fairly inexpensive. If you haven't had a good Muscadet at 6 to 15 years old, it will be a very pleasant surprise.


Written by Andrew Guard — June 23, 2012