The first installment of Muscdet Monday commences with a soilful bottle of the 2006 Domaine Cluade Branger Le fils des Gras Moutons Muscadet Sevre et Maine(Vintage 59 Imports $15.00). The Branger family domaine, and all its vineyards are located in the Muscadet Sevre et Maine–the most well known of the four appellations in all of Muscadet. Lead by father Claude and son Sebastien, the estate consists of 57 acres of vineyards, all of which are farmed sustainably. The Le fils des Gras Moutons hails from 25 acres of their earlier maturing parcels scattered throughout the appellation; and with vine age averaging around thirty some years. The work done in the vineyard is thorough: all grapes are picked by hand(a rarity in a region full of machine harvesters) and yields are kept low to ensure balance,ripeness, and quality. In the cellar, the wine ferments only with native yeasts in order to express the “placeness” and originality of their terroir. Domaine Claude Branger makes honest, living wines replete with mineral stuffing and class.
Typically, Muscadet is a wine reserved only for warmer months. However, the bright acidity infused in the wine through lees aging and CO2(Melon de Bourgogne, the grape used to make all Muscadet is naturally low in acidity), make it a charming aperitif or focus with many hearty meals of fall and winter. Take for the example the other night, when I prepared a delightful mixture of roasted root veggies sprinkled with fresh herbs; and served next to it a shimmering glass of the 2006 Domaine Claude Branger Le Fils des Gras Moutons. Swirling first and dipping the nose, I was struck by the precision and definition of aroma–stuffed with minerality and soaring citrus daggers. One swig; and the sea saw texture of silk combined with bright acidity was breathtaking and made me dream of the languid Loire River. The fresh herbs from the root veggies echoed nicely the subtle, dried thyme nuances I found hiding in the wine. The marriage was delightful and re-affirmed my opinion on the flexibility of Muscadet at the dinner table.