Domaine de l'Ecu 2004 "Expression de Gneiss" and "Expression d'Orthogneiss" Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie ($9.99)
These two wines bear almost identical labels and were produced in the same vintage using similar biodynamic-organic principles from neighboring vineyards distinguished primarily by their geology, as the wine names reflect.
The Gneiss is a clear, straw-color wine; its distinctive "crushed seashells" and chalk character shouts "Muscadet!" White fruit and snappy citrus surround chalky minerality on the palate, clean, refreshing and long. Young and still showing primary fruit flavors, it might gain more minerally complexity with a year or three, but it's already fine.
The Orthogneiss is almost identical in color, clear straw with just a touch more yellowish hue. Sadly, the hoped-for comparison of minerality is stymied by an offputting volatile acidity in this bottle, "dusty" and metallic high-toned aromatics that eventually blow off, mostly, to reveal a somewhat more fruit-driven wine, lemon-scented honeydew melons and currants cloaking a stony minerality that's closer to slate than chalk. Singing acidity and intriguing minerality make me want to like the wine, but lingering volatility keeps intruding. US Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., Winchester, Va. (Mar 31, 2006)

FOOD MATCH: Muscadet's natural companion might be perfectly fresh oysters on the half shell, unadorned except for lemon. But it goes mighty well with just about all forms of seafood and fish, and was well-matched with a simple dinner of fresh cod baked with white wine and olive oil, parsley and garlic.



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