Close to the opposite pole from the fruit-forward blockbuster wines that draw so much critical acclaim, we find the subtle, mineral-driven wines of Muscadet Sèvre et Maine.
It has only been about a year since I last sung the praises of Muscadet, so I'll refer you to the Nov. 5, 2005 Wine Advisor for more specifics. Today, let's just hit a few bullet-point factoids, then jump straight to the tasting notes for two very fine Muscadets from a first-rate producer that, in the $10-$12 range, ring the bell for outstanding wine value.
Bring together two or more Loire-heads, and you'll almost certainly soon hear an admiring reference to Marc Ollivier, one of the most highly regarded Muscadet growers and producers. His vineyards lie over granite, imparting exceptional minerality even for Muscadet, and he makes his wines the old-fashioned way, not hurrying the sur lie process for the sake of cash flow.
Domaine de la Pepière 2005 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie ($9.99)
Mark Ollivier's basic Muscadet bottling shows a transparent pale straw color; a few bubbles line the glass. Subtle and delicate aromas focus on pure white fruit and "crushed seashells," a characteristic of fine Muscadet. Mouth-filling, dry and tart, delicate citrus, lemon-lime, ripples over a base of chalky minerality, finishing clean and long. (Sept. 8, 2006)
Clos des Briords 2005 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie ($12.99)
Made from a single vineyard of 75-year-old Melon vines grown on deep topsoil over granite, this is a brilliant straw color. Intriguing aromas begin with melon and lime, opening up to stones and shells, then complex, earthy nuances of ripe Camembert and wool with time in the glass. Full flavors follow the nose, limey fruit and earthy grace notes, white fruit and chalk in a very long finish. A remarkable wine, and one that will gain from cellar time. (Sept. 8, 2006)
The following comments apply to both Ollivier wines:
FOOD MATCH: Shellfish is the classic pairing for Muscadet, and fine, fresh oysters on the half-shell may be the ultimate match. We had no complaints with an Asian-accented stir-fry of fresh, sweet sea scallops and snow peas.
VALUE: Both these wines will surely make my annual "Best QPR" lists at these prices.
WHEN TO DRINK: The basic Pepière is best drunk up young, and its synthetic cork underscores that advice: Enjoy it this year. The Briords is fine now, but will gain complexity and richness with cellar time, even a decade or more under pristine storage conditions.
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The California Wine Club: All-time Most Popular Winery Is Back!
A few years ago The California Wine Club featured the tiny and new KitFox Vineyards from Stanislaus County. This award-winning micro-winery went on to become The California Wine Club's most popular selling winery. Members couldn't get enough of their delicious wine and now, KitFox is back!
This month's selection from KitFox Vineyards is just $32.95 plus shipping and includes:
2003 Foxy "California" Red Table Wine – Gold Medal, Best Of Class
2004 Foxy "California" White Table Wine – 86 pts. Wine Spectator
To join the club and make your first shipment these two award-winning wines from KitFox, visit
Or save up to 30 percent on case reorders, just $10.50 per bottle. Visit our wine store at
EDITOR'S NOTE: By happy coincidence, I ran into KitFox owner Hunter Vogel at a tasting in Louisville last week and had the pleasure of tasting the "Foxy" red and white with him. California Wine Club's tasting reports above are right on target: These wines are fresh, open and easy to enjoy, real crowd-pleasers. I found the white particularly interesting in its aroma complexity, with intriguing aromatics contributed by the Viognier and Orange Muscat that make up small components of the blend.
Tour and poll:
Which French wine region would you like to visit with me?
This week's online poll features only French choices for a simple reason: After taking 2006 off in hope that the Euro and the dollar might come back into better balance, we're planning to organize another wines-of-France tour in 2007 with our good friends at French Wine Explorers, and I would like to know where in France you would most like to go if you were able to join us.
To cast your ballot, click
While most of our past French tours have been close to the luxury level, featuring top-tier accommodations and starred restaurants, we're contemplating a shift in perspective that would continue providing VIP, insider tours of the selected region's excellent wineries, but accomplish this on a bit of a budget - a QPR tour, if you will - surrounding the winery tours with quality but affordable accommodations and dining experiences that reflect the region's cuisine with both quality and value.
Even with the strong Euro, we're planning to hold the total cost of the weeklong tour, exclusive of air fare, under $2,995, which I hope would open it up to some of you who've been hesitant to budget the higher costs of our past tours.
To help us in planning, let's start with this simple poll, to help us sample the level of interest in specific French wine regions. Then, if you think you'd like to participate personally in such a tour next spring or summer, I invite you to contact me by E-mail at email@example.com and let me know. There's absolutely no commitment, but if you think there's even a chance that you might be interested, let me know, and I'll put you on a list for personal notification. And regardless of the likelihood that you'll join us, I hope you'll vote in the poll. Again, click
This week on WineLoversPage.com
Some highlights of recent articles on WineLoversPage.com that I hope you'll enjoy:
Vino 101: Wine and wings
Bucko's Wine Reports: Late Summer 2006 Releases
QPRwines: 2001, 2002 and 2003 Southern Rhone
Hot topics in our WineLovers Discussion Groups
How to make a wine bar hum
Idle Complaint - Response from Wineries
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
Italian goodies (Sept. 8, 2006)
Vintage - Avoid generalizations (Sept. 6, 2006)
Wine Focus - Chile vs. CalCab (Sept. 4, 2006)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Celeriac remoulade (Sept. 7, 2006)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Monday, Sept. 11, 2006