Monday, May 7, 2007

The Cheap Date of the Loire Valley

The Loire valley gets fairly ignored by the average wine drinker. Other regions of France interest him more. But the Loire wine that is ignored even by Loire wine lovers has to be Muscadet. This is a shame, because its the best value of the region, and one of the best values of the world. Chosen carefully, a Muscadet will cost you $11 and provide much pleasure.

It's reputation seems to be of a wine of little potential and narrow range. I remember a wine instructor once dismissing the grape by saying the variation in taste from one bottle to the next is about .01 percent. "Indistinct" and "grapey" is how she described Muscadet flavor. I sort of thought this, too, until my attitude was completed upended by a bottle of 2002 Domaine de la Louvetrie Muscadet Sevre et Maine. (It sort of goes without saying that, for a quality Muscadet, you buy a Sevre et Maine.) This wine was as close to perfection as any I've drunk. The array of flavors were awe-inspiring. Insistent artichoke, grass, and various medicinal, chemical and metallic impressions.

I know, I know
—who wants to drink medicine, metal and chemicals? But wine makes seemingly unpalatable thing taste wondrous. It was crisp, briney and amazingly complex. Since then, I've been a convert. You can still get a neutral bottle, that's for sure. But know your makers, and find a clerk who likes his Muscadet and you won't go wrong.

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