Not far from the mouth of the Loire, where France’s longest river meets the windswept Atlantic coast, sits the appellation of Muscadet. For centuries its signature product – a classic, bone-dry white wine – has appeared by the carafe in the oyster bars of Paris, London, and New York. It’s refreshing, abundant, and inexpensive — a perfect glass to wash down a plate of crustaceans.
In the last few decades Muscadet has undergone a reinvention of sorts with the elevation of three of the region’s best towns to a new “Cru Communal” status. Today’s wine comes from one of this new wave of Muscadet. Combining excellent terroir with extended years on the lees, this is an unusually complex take on a classic.
Martin-Luneau is a fourth generation family domaine farming old vines on the plains south of Nantes. Their 2016 Clisson is a marriage of the brisk, refreshing essence of the sea, with the delicate herbal and fruit flavors of western France. The nose is clean and pure, showing dried flowers, melons, and lemon. The mouth is smooth and very dry, with notes of stones, salt air, and apple skins.
Oysters are the longstanding pairing of choice with Muscadet, and the thick savoriness in this wine is an exceptional foil for the fresh brineyness of an oyster. But the winemakers themselves recommend serving this with a simple moules marinières, made with shallots, parsley, thyme, butter and, of course, Muscadet.
As wine writer Lettie Teague once wrote, “an $8 glass of Muscadet will always be better than an $8 glass of something else.” (And this one comes in under $5.)
Martin-Luneau Muscadet Clisson 2016
bottle price: $22
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