As a career wine pro, my tastes are very much “Europhile”. French/ Italian/ Portuguese and Spanish wines float my boat the most. This wasn’t always the way; in my first 5 yrs, my nickname was the “Cali-Kid”. I loved California Cabernet best. I also very much appreciated similar wines from Washington State, Australia, South Africa (once the barriers were dropped) and even Bulgaria. Back then, the wines of B.C. were in the fledgling stages or at least were essentially unavailable in the shop in Calgary where I got my start. Back then I once said that “if I ever came into a vineyard planted to Muscadet, I’d yank every vine”. Yep, I knew it all.
Many (sigh) years later my opinions and palate have changed significantly. The taste buds no longer crave the big reds full of sweet berry fruit, big extraction, and all too often, the character of a plank of oak across the tongue. I now seek out the more subtle, restrained and balanced offerings being produced in the Old World. Not to sound like a snot but rather our tastes change with time. The same comparisons could be made with food, music, clothing or what have you. People evolve. My thoughts on Muscadet have also evolved; not just because my palate has, but also because I’ve had the opportunity in those years to sample and learn more about “Melon de Bourgogne” as it’s also known. Often misunderstood as a simple, uninspiring white wine (my narrow grasp in those early days), I came to realize that grapes grown on the right sites have the ability to produce complex, age worthy wines that are highly mineral and pair ideally with food. In fact they might be the best overall wine to go with oysters, our fave local bivalve. But because the Loire region is little known beyond the Sauvignon Blancs of Sancerre, Muscadet and Chenin Blanc see little fanfare and are typically undervalued as a consequence. Flipside of that though is they’re a great deal.
Enter Chateau du Coing St. Fiacre. Owned by Veronique Gunther-Chereau ‘s family since 1421, she now runs it with her daughter, producing several whites wines across 75 hectares. Together, the’ve been working to convert their vineyards to organic farming since 2011.
This brings us to our two feature wines. Both are aged on their lees (yeast cells) for 14 months to flesh out the wines and add minerality. No oak present so if big California Chards are you thing, these aren’t for you. That said, they both pair superbly with shellfish and seafood which barrel aged Chardonnays won’t. Both of these can be cellared for several years which is due to the premium vineyards they come from.
Chateau du Coing St. Fiacre Muscadet
The terroir brings finesse and elegance to this wine. White fruits and grapefruit on the nose. Gunflint aromas.
Powerful, mineral-driven palate. Very long finish. Body and roundness, with nice balance.
Comte de Saint Hubert
From what is arguably the winery’s best site. They hold the wine back for later release to add complexity.
Pale lemon coloured wine. Floral nose with fruity notes of peach and grapefruit. Very good structure and minerality on the palate. Very long finish.
Both of these wines are available at Blackfish Liquor Store.
$24.50 & $28.80 respectively. Both prices are pre-tax.