Looking for unbeatable value? We asked six Decanter experts to choose the region or wine they feel is seriously underrated, and recommend the 12 bargains that you should snap up.
Muscadet – Fiona Beckett
The first wines you taste are often ones you remain loyal to. I was introduced to Muscadet by a London wine merchant a number of years ago and have always retained a particular affection for it despite its displacement by more fashionable but (to my mind) much less distinguished Picpoul de Pinet.
Others have been less loyal. Muscadet sales have nosedived since its heyday in the 1970s and ’80s – surely a factor in the value it now represents.
This large appellation occupies a large area at the mouth of the Loire, the predominant grape being Melon de Bourgogne. Most is designated Muscadet Sèvre et Maine and is aged ‘sur lie’ (on its lees) which gives it, despite its modest 12% alcohol, a complexity and nuttiness that Picpoul lacks.
At its youngest and freshest (some also have a slight spritz) it’s the ideal seafood wine, notably with oysters, but extended lees ageing can create wines of remarkable longevity. I’ve drunk a 17-yearold Muscadet from one of the region’s best producers, Luneau-Papin – that was still as fresh as a daisy.
It’s also worth looking out for wines from the three crus communaux – Clisson, Gorges and Le Pallet – which are subject to more stringent regulations in terms of yields and vine age, and which produce richer, weightier wines, comparable to more highly regarded Chablis.
An increasing number of producers also deploy skin contact and oak ageing to increase weight and complexity in their wines, though I’m not convinced this is always a bonus. The sharpness, salinity and piercing intensity of Muscadet is part of its charm.
Other producers to look out for include Domaine de l’Ecu, Vincent Caillé, Jo Landron/Domaine de la Louvetrie and Domaine de la Pépière. With decent vintages in 2012, ’13 and ’14, and Muscadet still seriously underpriced, now is a good time to buy.
- Vincent Caille, Clos de la Fevrie, Muscadet de Sevre et Maine, Loire 2013
- Chateau du Cleray, Muscadet de Sevre et Maine sur Lie, Loire 2013