What to drink this week

Sur­prises in Mus­cadet

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook -

This wine can ri­val Chablis and Mosel Ries­ling, de­clares Harry Eyres

I don’t know about you, but my gen­eral view of Mus­cadet was, un­til re­cently, of a neu­tral, crisp white wine, good for ac­com­pa­ny­ing oys­ters or mus­sels in a har­bourfront restau­rant in Hon­fleur, but which didn’t taste of very much. To be sure, the qual­i­fi­ca­tion sur lie, mean­ing the wine has been aged on its lees, might add a bit more rich­ness and depth, but, es­sen­tially, Mus­cadet was a light quaf­fer.

Why you should be drink­ing it

How wrong I was! Af­ter a rev­e­la­tory ex­pe­ri­ence with a trio of ter­roir-spe­cific Mus­cadets, I’m now think­ing that this is one of the most ex­cit­ing wine ar­eas in France—mus­cadet can be as great as Chablis or the finest Mosel Ries­ling. A move­ment to­wards iden­ti­fy­ing and defin­ing the finest cru sites has been un­der way for some time: in 2011, the first three —Clis­son, Gorges and Le Pal­let— were es­tab­lished, with sev­eral more in the pipe­line. It’s just the be­gin­ning of some­thing truly re­mark­able.

What to drink

Mus­cadet Les Gautron­nières Sur Lie Bon­net-huteau 2015 (£11; www. tan­ners-wines.co.uk) is a pos­i­tive, pale-straw colour, with a crisp nose that sug­gests wet stone—not ob­vi­ously aro­matic, but ap­petis­ing. On the palate, there’s sur­pris­ing rich­ness, but also fine ten­sion and lemony acid­ity. Mus­cadet Goulaine Bon­net-huteau 2013 (be­low, £14.95; www.tan­ner­swines.co.uk) has a fas­ci­nat­ingly in­tense, min­er­ally nose and great fi­nesse, with ten­sion and salin­ity on the palate—you may think my com­par­i­son with Mosel Ries­ling is far-fetched, but stay with it. Fi­nally, Granit de Château­thébaud 2010 Do­maine de la Chau­vinière (£14; www. tan­ners-wines.co.uk) shows the fas­ci­nat­ing, smoky and earthy com­plex­ity the finest cru Mus­cadet can achieve with age—as good as pre­mier cru Meur­sault? Why not!

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