Today's Sponsor
 California Wine Club
All-time Most Popular Winery Is Back! Join today, mention The Wine Advisor, and get three bottles for the price of two!

In This Issue
 Memorable Muscadet Austere and mineral-driven, the subtle wines of Muscadet Sèvre et Maine lie at an opposite pole from fruit-forward blockbusters. I love them.
 Domaine de la Pepière 2005 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie ($9.99) Chalky minerality, fresh fruit and mouth-watering acidity win applause for this basic Muscadet from Marc Ollivier, one of my top wine values of the year at this price.
 Clos des Briords 2005 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie ($12.99) Intriguing aromas, full flavors and lovely Loire minerality from Ollivier, and all for just $3 more.
 California Wine Club All-time Most Popular Winery Is Back! Join today, mention The Wine Advisor, and get three bottles for the price of two!
 Tour and poll Which French wine region would you like to visit with me?
 This week on
Matching wine and wings, reviewing new releases and seeking value from the Southern Rhone. In our forums, we're talking about how to run a memorable wine bar and get E-mail responses back from wineries.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index The Wine Advisor archives.
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Memorable Muscadet

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.

Have I mentioned that I love them?

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.

  • Muscadet comes from the Nantais region, where the Loire River meets the Atlantic. It's a seafaring and fishing region, so it's no coincidence that the wines make a natural match with seafood and fish.
  • Sèvre and Maine, tributaries of the Loire, run through the middle of the wine region on the south bank of the river across from the city of Nantes. The "Sèvre and Maine" designation is significant, as wine labeled just-plain "Muscadet" is sourced from a broader region and may not offer the same subtle complexity.
  • In contrast with the Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc varieties that dominate the Upper Loire, Muscadet is made from Melon ("May-lawN"), a less-familiar grape that's said to have its roots in Burgundy.
  • Many of the most interesting Muscadets add the term "Sur Lie" ("on the lees") on the label, indicating that the young wine was left to age on its yeast sediment ("lees"), a traditional process that adds flavor and complexity to the wine.

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 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 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.

Ollivier = "Ohl-leev-yay"
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine = "Moos-cah-day Sev'r eh Mehn"
Sur Lie = "Soor Lee"

Both these wines are imported by LDM Wines Inc., NYC; Louis/Dressner Selections, which has a fact sheet about Marc Ollivier and his wines at this link:

Both these wines are available from Chambers Street Wines in New York City, one of my favorite shops anywhere for unusual and intriguing wines of value. (This is not an advertisement, simply an expression of pleasure from a satisfied consumer.) To browse their portfolio, click

To find other vendors and check prices for Marc Ollivier's Muscadets on, click:

To read and comment on today's column in our non-commercial WineLovers Discussion Group, click:

Today's article is cross-posted in our Netscape WineLovers Community, where we also welcome comments and questions.

To contact me by E-mail, write I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

California Wine Club
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
Decadent and luxurious, a silky blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah with aromas of cherry pie and dried cranberries.

2004 Foxy "California" White Table Wine – 86 pts. Wine Spectator
Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay dominate this blend with an exotic mix of flavors, from baked pears to lemon to vanilla sorbet.

To join the club and make your first shipment these two award-winning wines from KitFox, visit
You may also call 1-800-777-4443. Mention today's Wine Advisor and we'll give you three bottles for the price of two in your first shipment.

Or save up to 30 percent on case reorders, just $10.50 per bottle. Visit our wine store at
or call 1-800-777-4443 to order.

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 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

Some highlights of recent articles on that I hope you'll enjoy:

Vino 101: Wine and wings
Most people think of beer with spicy chicken wings, but a self-confident server should be able to sell wine with them, advises Jorge Castillo.

Bucko's Wine Reports: Late Summer 2006 Releases
This is a wonderful time of the year, when reds, whites and pinks all work equally well. Randy "Bucko" Buckner reviews 100 wines in his monthly new-releases report.

QPRwines: 2001, 2002 and 2003 Southern Rhone
Comparing these disparate vintages by critical ratings scores in relation to price, the 2003 vintage boasts 12 "Great Value" ratings, while the more traditional 2001 vintage has only four. Not surprisingly, no wines from the rainy, flooded 2002 vintage reached "Great Value" status. Neil Monnens' QPRwines provides reports on 279 Southern Rhones.

Hot topics in our WineLovers Discussion Groups
Our WineLovers' Discussion Groups are the best places online to ask wine questions and participate in the civil and intelligent discussion of good things to eat and drink. Our WineLovers Discussion Group (WLDG) is the Internet's original wine forum, a non-commercial venue intended for wine-related conversations that range from apprentice-level to wine professionals. Our WineLovers Community on the Netscape/CompuServe service is dedicated to wine education, a friendly place to get quick answers to your questions about wine, beer, spirits and all good things to drink.

How to make a wine bar hum
A wine bar has 112 wines on sale, but business is slow. On our CompuServe forum, we're offering some advice and tips on how to run an operation that wine enthusiasts will love. Join in with your suggestions here:

Idle Complaint - Response from Wineries
You visit a winery Website, click a link to ask an E-mail question, and nobody replies. Ever. How irritating is that? Read the discussion and tell us about your experiences (or if you're a winery owner, tell us how you handle E-mail):

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
Copyright 2006 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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