What's New in September

The Muscadets of Chéreau Carré

“The 2002 Le Clos du Chateau l’Oiselinière Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie – grown in a sheltered, riverside site of eroded orthogneiss and schist – is one of, if not the finest Muscadet I have ever tasted, and well worth its (only relatively) exalted price”

- David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate # 172, Aug 2007

I met Bernard Chéreau of Chéreau Carré about twenty years ago in 1987. A trained doctor, Bernard had been brought back to the property to take over the family business and continue the long viticultural tradition that his ancestors initiated four centuries earlier. Bernard’s exacting standards and continuous investigations propelled his estate to become recognized as one of the top producers in the appellation. Through his friendship, I became enamored with this unique viticultural corner of France. And as you can imagine, the combination of a fine, crisp Muscadet with fresh, briny Brittany oysters may have also contributed to our lasting relationship!

Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine is an appellation wedged in between the rivers Sèvre and Maine in Northwestern France. Here the soils are varied with prominent outcroppings of schist and granite. Other sites, which were once ancient sea beds, are comprised of sand with mineral deposits. Bernard Chéreau owns three distinct plots that cover each of these soil types.

We represent three estates that Bernard tends and each represents a different style of wine. Chateau de La Chesnaie with its sloping hills produces the “little” wine of Muscadet. Not so little, mind you, in that it is a “sur lie” bottling from a 30 year old parcel. The next wine in line up is the Comte Leloup that comes from an eight hectare parcel of pre-phylloxera vines planted on sandy soils. Here the wines are aged on the lees for twelve months and released after certain bottle age (usually three years later). I personally drink this wine at home and, luckily, I’m still on the 1999 vintage. The last in the trio from Bernard is an exceptional wine from an enclosed parcel, or “Clos” (hence the name), of 60 year old Muscadet vines on schist and granite outcrops. Le Clos de L’Oiselinière was born of Bernard’s continuous investigation of Muscadet. It was aged 31 months on the lees before being bottled.

Muscadet has always been an inspiration to my portfolio with Bernard’s vision very much in line with my own, so you can imagine my reaction when the “mad” ranting from David Schildknecht on Muscadet appeared on my desk.

So, as David said in his article “Don’t miss any of these wines!

The Reviews:

92 Points
Chereau-Carre
2002 Chateau de Chasseloir Comte Leloup de Chasseloir Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Cuvee des Ceps Centenaires
$17

The 2002 Chateau de Chasseloir Comte Leloup de Chasseloir Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie Cuvee des Ceps Centenaires issues from 100 and more year old vines in a phylloxera-proof limestone-rich terroir unusual for Muscadet. It is never released with fewer than three years in bottle, and in good vintages will age fascinatingly for more than a decade. It also represents one of the most remarkable wine values on the planet, and with the current release being from the great 2002 vintage, readers should rush out and buy it. That said, not every taster might love the style, so please pay no attention to that score, and read carefully what follows. Vivid chalk dust, white truffle (the ‘96, too, had this!), peaches, herbs, and (Chablis-like) chicken stock practically overwhelm the nose. Lean, bright, focused and implacably mineral (wet stones, chalk, salt) in the mouth, it features flavors of green tomato, grapefruit and under-ripe peach, with subtly bitter peach pit and grapefruit zest very much part of the package. Finishing blazingly bright, this wine would wake you up over breakfast, or for that matter in the dead of the night. - D.S (W.A. #172, Aug 2007)

90 Points
Chereau-Carre
2005 Chateau de la Chesnaire Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
$13
The 2005 Chateau de la Chesnaire Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie smells fetchingly of peaches and green apple with diverse herbs and flowers. In the mouth, a chalky, brothy character suggests Chablis-like expression of minerals. Faintly bitter notes of wet stone, chalk, iodine, apple pit and peach kernel inform a strikingly long finish, but they cannot subdue this wine’s infectious, primary fruit juiciness, and the overall effect is invigorating and refreshing, so much so, in fact, that if you don’t find yourself going back for the next sip, somebody should check your pulse! - D.S (W.A. #172, Aug 2007)

93 points
Chereau-Carre
2002 Le Clos du Chateau l'Oiseliniere Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
$30
The 2002 Le Clos du Chateau l’Oiseliniere Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie – grown in a sheltered, riverside site of eroded orthogneiss and schist– is one of, if not the finest Muscadet I have ever tasted, and well worth its (only relatively) exalted price. The nose is greeted by a great Riesling-like combination of citrus, herbs, musk, pit fruits, and an ineffable, amazing mineral piquancy. Firm, bright, and insistently juicy in the mouth, this displays spectacular length of juicy, salt- and fruit pit-accented lime, nectarine, quince, and Persian melon. “Salt” in fact completely fails to do the savory minerality on display here any justice. The Ceps Centenaires bottling may have more sheer grip and mineral mass, but this has more polish and class. Don’t miss any of these wines! - D.S (W.A. #172, Aug 2007)