After all the excesses of the holidays, let’s begin the new year on a lighter note, with a classic and delicious white wine that you can enjoy with all kinds of fish dishes and beyond.
The 2018 Muscadet “La Pépière” from Marc Olivier’s Domaine de la Pépière is one of the top examples of Muscadet, which is from the western end of France’s Loire Valley not far from the Atlantic Ocean.
In the past, Muscadet, which is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, was typically sold and bottled in bulk, a thin, inconsequential wash-down wine, often served in a carafe to accompany oysters or perhaps moules frites.
These days, as La Pépière reminds us, Muscadet has come a long way and can produce wines of real character and complexity that reflect their terroir and the commitment of producers to it. The 35-year-old domaine is in the village of Maisdon-Sur-Sèvre, located in the most important of the Muscadet appellations, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, named after the two rivers that flow through it.
There, Olivier farms about 85 acres of vines using organic and biodynamic techniques and relying on indigenous yeasts for fermentation.
In the $15 La Pépière, he achieves a gorgeous, complex wine that shows intense pear and apple notes, some tropical fruit, and a touch of orange. Hints of baking spices and honey come through, as do minerals and a creamy layer from sur lie aging, or aging on the lees, which is typical of Muscadet.
Alcohol is a mere 12 percent and aging takes place in stainless steel tanks, which is all rather remarkable given the depth of this wine. While Muscadet has traditionally been thought of as a wine to drink young and fresh, some of the best wines can age beautifully, and I would certainly include this one among them.
Olivier also makes a small amount of red wine, including “La Pépie,” a delicious non-oaked Cabernet Franc.