We opened a bottle of Muscadet recently. It’s a wine I don’t often buy; many examples I’ve tasted have been rather thin and with unpleasantly high levels of acidity. But there may also be another explanation for my reluctance which goes back to an embarrassing moment many years ago.
My wife and I were on holiday in northern France, not far from where Muscadet is produced. Of course, we had to sample a glass of the local wine and so went into a small café. I asked (in French) for “two glasses of Muscadet, please” pronouncing the name of the wine as we do in England: ‘muss-cad-day’. The lady behind the counter repeated the “two glasses of” and then looked at me blankly. I pointed to the bottle on the shelf behind her. “Ah, it’s Muscadet, monsieur”. She had said ‘moose-cad-day’ and it was clear that the 2 glasses in front of her on the counter would remain empty until I’d repeated the name and pronounced it correctly!
I’ve been rather anti-Muscadet ever since. But I’ve seen a number of very favourable reviews of different bottles recently and I decided to swallow my pride and buy one: Le Clos du Château l’Oiselinière (Wine Society, £13.50). I’m pleased I did.
My first surprise was that the wine was from the 2015 vintage. Surely, I thought, Muscadet is a wine to drink young. Would a 5 year old example still be drinkable or would it be way past its best? I needn’t have worried. The wine was delightfully fresh and attractive and with lots of complexity. It had spent more than 2 years resting on its lees (the dead yeast cells that remain after the fermentation has ended) before being bottled and this had clearly mellowed the acidity. It was now perfectly in harmony with clean, citrus flavours and a full, long finish.
Definitely a wine to look out for – however you pronounce its name.