Melon de Bourgogne is a varietal that is considered to be neutral in terms of flavour, which has contributed to a similar reputation to the wines it is eventually made into. If all else were equal this would be true, but Muscadet wines are another enlightening example of how human intervention can bring out more depth of character from a wine.
Flavor Intensity: Medium+
Quality: Very Good
Readiness/Cellaring: Can drink now, potential to cellar
Identity: France / Loire Valley / Melon de Bourgogne
Price: Inexpensive ($9.99)
Slow, thick tears
Bright and vibrant rim
Aromas of yoghurt, grape and white flowers
Flavours of apricot, yoghurt, lemon pith, yeast (Vegemite-like element), white flower, nectar, wax
Slightly bitter, waxy finish
Food match with oysters and rock salt
Sushi and sashimi
A simple but detailed tasting will highlight this complexity to you. Let’s have a brief look at the tasting notes above. Fruit and floral items like apricot and white flowers are typical of a young wine. Yoghurt seems a little specific, suggesting a tart creaminess that could indicate malolactic fermentation was introduced at some point. But a yeast- or vegemite-like element? That is a dimension you wouldn’t immediately expect from a young white wine.
The words “sur lie” on the bottle help to explain the mystery – the wine would have been left on lees, the dead cells of the yeast used to turn the grapes into wine. As the yeast cells break down, they contribute a savoury character to the wine.
I had actually wanted to write down “soy sauce” but felt it wasn’t appropriate for a wine. Vegemite is an extreme but fitting example, as it is also a yeast by-product left over from alcohol production (in this case, beer). What ties these descriptors together is umami, that hard to grasp taste often confused with mere saltiness. Together with a crisp, refreshing acidity, you can see how Muscadet has been considered a perfect pairing with raw oysters and other salt-water shellfish for so long.
Coincidentally, a few days after I had bought this wine and lined it up for tasting, a very informative article about Muscadet was published by Eric Asimov, a wine writer for the New York Times.
Great Muscadet can be a complex treat. Along with subtle flavors of fruit and herbs, Muscadet, like so many of the best white wines, offers an almost tactile expression of the earth in which the grapes were grown. Best of all, great Muscadet can age exceptionally well over decades, evolving in complex and distinctive ways. It’s a rare wine that is beautiful at each stage. Even on the more expensive end, it’s a steal.
Excerpt from “Muscadet Just Doesn’t Get Its Due”
I highly recommend for you to read the rest of the article. In fact, I would recommend for you to bookmark a number wine-related websites so you can easily access them for information.
PS – Want an immediately accessible resource to understand your wine preferences? A Personal Wine Consultation may be just the thing for you.
Read more: Rational Wine Experiment – The Vertical Tasting