By Justin Chao
After spending months tasting wines from Italy, my wine tasting group has finally hit France. We started France with white wines of the Loire Valley. The star of the night was Muscadet.
Muscadet is a region in the Loire Valley of France that produces a white wine with the Melon de Bourgogne grape. The Muscadet region is close to ocean, creating a cooler and wetter climate compared to the rest of the Loire Valley. Because of the cooler climate, Muscadets tend to be acidic. In addition, I noticed that the many of the wines we tasted were slightly effervescent.
The Melon de Bourgogne grape is somewhat neutral in flavor. In order to make the wine more interesting, many of the wine producers age the wine sur lie, meaning that the wine is aged on the old yeast. Aging the wine sur lie sometimes gives the wine a biscuit-like or creamy aftertaste.
Since the Muscadet region is located near the Atlantic Ocean, the wines are designed to go with the local seafood. The Muscadets that we tried generally had citrus overtones and almost had a salty or briny character to them. We had oysters and ceviche with our wine, and it paired perfectly. What shocked most people at our tasting was the low price of Muscadets. For example, the wine I brought only cost $7.99 at Du Vin. At this price, Muscadet is an incredible value.
Summary: An affordable, easy-drinking wine that goes well with seafood, i.e. raw oysters, shrimp and lobster.