Six Muscadets That Will Change the Way You Think About Muscadet

Long dismissed as an innocuous companion to oysters, Muscadet is stepping out as a white wine serious enough to nip at the heels of white Burgundy. Jon Bonné on the producers and wines that are defining Muscadet's new school.

While an ever-wider diversity of modern Muscadet can be found on U.S. shelves, some of the most innovative bottlings not yet on our shores—or, like Haut-Planty’s Muzkadig Breizh, are mostly found in restaurants—but are bound to find their way here soon. Some of these include: Jo Landron’s Melonix (his take on natural wine), Luneau-Papin’s extraordinary Champagne-style Brut, Complemen’Terre’s La Bouteille Rouge (carbonic gamay), Les Bêtes Curieuses’ Goulaine (80-year-old vines, two years on lees); the as-yet-unnamed orange Muscadets from Jérémie Huchet and Vincent Caillé and Caillé’s En T’Attendant (Muscadet Nouveau, basically); and Marc Pesnot’s Nuitage, which is left on its skins under carbonic gas for 18 hours.

What is already here, however, offers a varied snapshot of where the region is going. Reinforcing the assertion that Muscadet functions like Chablis, there is aged, affordable bottlings in the market; the 2002 Excelsior from Luneau-Papin, for one, tastes younger than most Burgundies of a similar age. And true acidheads will warm to the small amount of traditional wines from the folle blanche grape—think of it as Loire aligoté—known locally as gros plant du Pays Nantais, being made made by quality producers.

Below are six wines that offer a look at the new Muscadet.

2014 Pierre Luneau-Papin “Clos des Allées” Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie | $19
It’s hard to imagine anyone taking Muscadet as seriously as the Luneau family. Their L d’Or, Les Pierres Blanches (from 1950s vines) and ambitious Excelsior are all stunners, but this lesser-known monopole vineyard on mica schist in Le Landreau is the perfect answer to premier cru Chablis. But make no mistake, this is still very Muscadet: mineral with an almost pulpy fruitiness countered by laser-like intensity. Importer: Louis/Dressner Selections [Buy]

2014 Domaine de la Pépière “Clisson” Muscadet Sèvre et Maine | $26
Marc Ollivier’s Clisson is often the most plush of his Muscadets (versus Clos des Briords and Château-Thébaud, for instance) and has a strong U.S. following. The 2014 is in great form, with a sweetness to the fruit and an approachable side amid a ton of salinity and fresh herbs. Importer: Louis/Dressner Selections [Buy]

2014 Complemen’Terre “La Croix Moriceau” Muscadet Sèvre et Maine | $16
After just two vintages, Manu Landron and Marion Pescheux quickly caught a following for their fringier, naturalist wines. But their three traditional single-parcel Muscadets are the best wines they make. Moriceau hails from a part of La Haye-Fouassière, and there’s a real creaminess (Landron allows the wine to undergo malolactic fermentation) to balance its stony, savory side. Watch Landron fils in future vintages. Importer: Selection Massale [Buy]

2010 Domaine le Fay d’Homme (Vincent Caillé) “Monnières Saint Fiacre” Muscadet Sèvre et Maine | $28
After four years on the lees, this current release grown on gneiss soils is, quite simply, epic. Flinty like great Chablis and full of citrus, which adds a slight oily element to its austere mineral side. And there’s a phantom richness that emerges when you drink it with fatty food. Importer: Indie Wineries [Buy]

2013 Domaine de la Bregeonnette “Clos de la Coudray” Muscadet | $17
Stéphane Orieux works organically, and his family has for decades, in the hamlet of Vallet. The Coundray is all about salinity (think celery salt) with lemon peel and a quiet warmth to the flavors that emerges with time in the glass. As of this year, it can be bottled under the new Vallet cru. Importer: Winemonger [Buy]

NV (2014) Domaine du Haut-Planty “Muzkadig Breizh” Vin de France | $18
While I am a bit more partial to Alain Couillaud’s quirky, tangy One Musk a Day, which is aged in cask (it’s like Muscadet channeling Jura savagnin), his homage to Breton tradition—no sulfur, no filtration, aged about eight months in the traditional aging vat—is worth seeking out. There’s a slight bitterness and a cloudiness, but the salty mineral side cuts through its slightly plump flavors. I wouldn’t mind a bit of sulfur, though, as I think it would help it travel. Importer: Fifi’s Import / Fruit of the Vines