Thursday, July 10, 2008

Laurent Gregoire Domaine de Beauregard Muscadet Sevre et Maine, 2006

If you haven't had a Muscadet recently, you might be surprised by this wine. It represents a growing trend toward bigger, richer more dramatic wines from this area of the Loire. But it's still very much within the Muscadet tradition and a perfect match for oysters or seafood.

The "sur lie" on the label indicates that the fermenting juice has been left for a certain period on the spent yeast cells--a process that adds complexity; a creamy, yeasty flavor; and sometimes a slight tingly feeling on the tongue from carbon dioxide. "Sur lie" is part of the Muscadet tradition, but it's also become an accepted part of New World winemaking. I noted last weekend that some of the Good Harbor whites (the Pinot Grigio and the Tall Ships Chardonnay) had been given this treatment after fermentation in stainless steel. It's a pleasing alternative to barrel fermentation or barrel aging, both of which are more inclined to add some vanilla sweetness along with the lemon cream. When lees aging is combined with barrel fermentation and barrel aging, then you have a white wine that may be getting too big for its own good.

This wine, however, is nicely scaled. The "leesy" smells remind me of pears and apples with a lemon butter sauce. Plenty of pineapple and melon too with a slight chalky finish. Rich but no sweetness. Big for Muscadet; could be mistaken for a Chardonnay. The tingly finish works fine with grilled salmon and roasted vegetables but might be too powerful for whitefish.

Even with the unfavorable exchange rate, I bought this Muscadet for $10 at Village Corner in Ann Arbor--an excellent value. I'm glad I have more, because this wine is not going to fade any time soon.

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