Muscadet is a really delicious, often affordable, fresh white wine and I’ve been enjoying it a lot this summer. The grape name is actually Melon De Bourgogne or Gamay Blanc. I meet people who are afraid to try it because its name sounds an awful like “moscato,” but trust me, it’s TOTALLY different, both in grape and in style. There is none of the cloying floral sweetness in a Muscadet that you’ll find in a moscato.
Muscadet originates from the western part of the Loire Valley in France, near the city of Nantes. Traditionally, the grapes are harvested early to preserve acid, and then, to maintain a complexity, aged sur lies (on the dead yeasty sediment.) Muscadet actually doesn’t have a super great reputation globally, and many people are willing to overlook them. However, I think there are enough decent ones out there that you should give them a try till you find one you like. I’ve had a few tasty, tasty ones that are fresh, acidic, and have a long mineral finish- an unusual complexity for a basic, inexpensive white wine. Muscadets that are aged sur lies will say so on the bottle. I recommend finding one that is. Most are under $20.
The ones I’ve tried are acidic, with a hint of lemon, but nothing too crazy. The fruit is never cloying, the acid never painful, and the limestone-tasting minerality never overpowering. Yummy and balanced.
It is almost universally acknowledged that the perfect pairing for Muscadet is oysters, but its mineral complexity -I think- makes it pretty dang tasty with lots of different foods, or even on its own. It’d be a delish companion to a cheese spread, or a chicken dish. Maybe even lightly seasoned pork chops (but I wouldn’t go crazy with ribs or anything, you’ll overpower the wine.)
Find one if you can, and give it a whirl. It’d be fun to taste a few from different price points and see what you thought.
It’s a great summer wine, but will transition well to winter. I’m stocking up!
Did you know?
The addition of sugar during the winemaking process is called Chaptalization. It is illegal in many countries (including France) and not permitted in several US states. Even where permitted, some winemakers see sugar additions as a cheat- proper grapevine management and harvesting at the right time are preferable. I personally care about the quality of the end product more than I do tradition and rules, but it is a hot topic!