Why is the Loire Valley the most under-rated wine region in France? Bordeaux is possibly the best known wine region in the world. The wines produced in Burgundy are possibly the most coveted wines in the world. Champagne is the arguably the greatest sparkling wine region of the world. And of course the wines of southern France are unique Mediterranean wines that march to the beat of their own drum. So what about the Loire Valley? Is it under-rated because it focuses more on white varietals than red? I really don’t know the answer. But what I do know is that over the next few months our French Winophile group is seeking to expose the beautiful wines of the Loire Valley.
The Loire Valley is known as the heart of France. It is an area rich in history and culture. It is filled with castles and chateaux and blanketed in amazing natural beauty. Did you know Joan of Arc led the French troops to victory in the Hundred Year War in the Loire Valley? Furthermroe, it is the birth place of the French language, with its residences speaking the purest French. Our French Wineophile group is beginning our Loire Valley journey on the far western edge in Pays Nantais.
The vineyards in Pays Nantais specialize in crisp, light, dry white wines with the most famous grape of the region being Muscadet. Muscadet wine is produced in four appellations, with the most well-known being Muscadet Sevre et Maine. Melon de Bourgogne is the most widely planted grape in Pays Nantais, other grapes in the region include Chenin Blanc and Pinot Gris for white wines with a small amount of Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc planted as well.
Melon de Bourgogne is a white grape that is synonymous with Muscadet. It is a high acid grape that can struggle to produce a nice concentration of flavors if not well crafted. In the Pays Nantais region typical flavors include orchard and citrus fruits with a crisp minerality and subtle saltiness that indicates the maritime influence of the region that rests on the west coast of France with the Atlantic as its coastline. With proper wine making skills the grape can produce wines with depth, texture and layers of flavors.
Domaine des Trois toits – Muscadet Sevre Et Maine “Tire sur Lie” 2012: straw yellow in the glass; crisp notes of green apple, citrus notes of lime zest and lemon curd, touch of honey and white floral notes, penetrating salinity, with crushed stone, all on a firm mineral foundation; creamy texture on the palate with a crisp and round acidity that coats the mouth with a lingering, zesty mouth feel; very fresh, clean, mineral driven wine that is quite pleasing. 12% alcohol.
After harvest the grapes are pressed and the juice is placed in underground cuves in typical and ancient fashion in the Muscadet district. The alcoholic fermentation proceeds at low temperatures for three to five weeks. Afterwards the wine is racked off the gross lies and is left to age on the fine lies until bottling. During the period of elevage, the wines are in constant contact with the lies, with frequent batonage.
Domaine des Tois toits is imported into the US via Rosenthal Wine Merchants. Here is what Rosenthal has to share about Domaine des Tois toits:
The Domaine des Trois Toits was built on the old foundation of an ancient abbey established there in the 17th century. The cave is built entirely of stone and its roof is marked by three peaks – thus its name: “Trois Toits” or three roofs. The vineyards are well situated as they are each in the immediate proximity of the chai; they are also all within the confines of the village of Vertou which is the first commune devoted to the vine as one leaves the city of Nantes in a southerly direction. Vertou is traversed by the river “Sevre” which gives its name to the appellation: Muscadet de Sevre et Maine. The major part of the vineyards (24 hectares) are planted to the Melon grape and produce the fine Muscadet of the domaine. The soil is dominated by Gneiss with the parcels in Louée and Bézier being particularly rocky and spare with the effect being small yields which result in powerful and structured wines; the soils of La Nicoliere are somewhat more generous and the wines from this site are usually more fruity and fine. Rousseau is a signatory to the charter of “lutte raisonnée” which obliges him to strictly respect the environment and severely restricts the treatments in the vineyards.
I chose the pair the Muscadet with a crab and gruyere quiche. The pairing was inspired by the Loire Valley Wine web site, which is a great resource for exploring the Loire Valley. It was a delicious quiche filled with lump crab meat, crisp veggies and herbs and creamy gruyere cheese. It was a wonderful, light and yummy pairing with the crisp, dry Muscadet! I highly recommend this pairing, perfect for spring! Plus the quiche was easy and is always a crowd pleaser in my home.
Here is what my fellow French Winophiles discovered in Pays Nantais:
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla “Balsalmic Roasted Strawberry Bruschetta with Chateau Mattes-Sabran Rosè”
Jeff from Food Wine Click “Mussels & Muscadet in our Imaginary Nantes Bistro”
Jill from L’Occasion “Light & Fresh with Muscadet”
Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog “Pays Nantais and Taste of Contemporary Muscadet”
Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva “Puff Pastry with Bleu Cheese & Pair with Wines from Pays Nantais”
Please join us this morning at 10CST for our Twitter chat using #Winophiles. Additionally join us next month when our journey through the Loire Valley continues with Vouvrays from Touraine.
My Song Selection: French wine brings out my romantic side. I can get lost imagining sitting in a cafe on the ocean in Pays Nantais sipping a gorgeous Muscadet! This song sounds like what I would be hearing in that cafe. Enjoy
Get your own bottle of Muscadet from Pays Nantais in the Loire Valley and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!