Every day should be a Muscadet, according to Richard.
From €14.90, $19.99, £24.75, SG$53
Amid all the hype about price, classifications and rarity, it's easy to forget that wine's most cherished quality is to provide one of life's daily pleasures.
One of the best wines for that job is Muscadet: undervalued, modest in alcohol, versatile with food and capable of far more complexity and maturity than it is often given credit for. Proof comes in the shape of the wines from Luneau-Papin, one of Muscadet's leading estates. These may not be cheap by Muscadet standards, but the quality delivered for the price is undisputed.
There are 11 different Muscadets in the Luneau-Papin line-up, two of which come from the Goulaine cru communal. Each of them is created to reflect a specific soil type, as detailed in their vineyard map below.
L d'Or is from a single vineyard in the village of Vallet, and it was my favourite of the three Luneau-Papin 2020s I recently tasted.
L d'Or is based on granite, as is proudly emblazoned on the modern label, pictured above-left. (The previous, old-fashioned label was retired with the 2011 vintage.) The vineyard is described as 'mother rock of granite and gneiss with two micas of the Armoricain Massif'. Marie Chartier-Luneau, the estate's 'vigneronne dynamique', explains that this cuvée was first born from experiments in the 1970s: 'over the course of several vintages, the granite plot coming out each time, [we] decided to isolate it at each harvest for the L d'Or'.
She adds that 'the estate has experienced major upheavals since 2005 and 2008: organic viticulture from 2008, then biodynamic from 2014, and drastic reduction of the area of vines in production (53 ha [131 acres] in 2011 and 35 [86 acres] in 2022) but the foundations have remained the same.' The estate has been certified biodynamic by Demeter since 2019.
Winemaking at Luneau-Papin follows the standard practice of the Muscadet region. In their own words: 'Grapes are pressed in a pneumatic press, strength and length of pressing is adapted to each vintage. Spontaneous fermentation using only natural yeasts. Fermentation and maturation on lees in underground glass-lined vats for seven months, without racking until bottling in summertime.'
Tasting the 2020 L d'Or is as refreshing as standing at the end of a pier and feeling the cold Atlantic washing your face. Muscadet is a marine wine, and this cuvée delivers a great gust of sea-breeze salinity. The fruit is tart but not unripe: bright yellow lemon, crisp green apple. After the first wave of flavour, there is a generous shake of dried herbs alongside persistent citrus fruit. It's utterly delicious.
I scored it 17+, indicating that the wine is likely to improve over its considerable drinking window, which I conservatively estimated at ten years. That ageability is important because several markets have only older vintages currently available, according to Wine-Searcher. The UK has only the 2013 on sale, while the most recent vintage available in the US is 2017. I would have no hesitation in recommending these.
Those seeking the 2020 specifically can find it in France, Spain, the Netherlands and in Singapore from Analogue Wine Merchants.
Last year, Tamlyn tasted dozens of Muscadets as part of a series on the Loire – read Tam's tasting notes.