Pierre and Chantal Lieubeau started their Domaine in 1982 with just 5ha in Chateau Thebaud, right in the heart of the Muscadet appellation. Today that estate has grown to 70ha through the acquisition of a wonderful array of old vine parcels, whose low yields lend concentration to the top Cru bottlings. Their aim is to make wines that are food friendly, terroir driven and age-worthy - a far cry from the generic and rather anodyne Muscadet that we so often see on the market.
Their Confluent cuvee is a single vineyard plot selection from gneiss soils situated, as the name would suggest, between the two great rivers Sèvre and Maine. The Gneiss vineyards here are the geographical and historical heart of Muscadet. Aged for around 9 months sur lie, 1/3 longer than the appellation norm, this has so much more fruit and presence than your average Muscadet, without losing a textbook maritime salinity on the finish. Versatile and yet not simple. In short, hugely drinkable and satisfying. Organically certified as of the 2018 vintage.
However, venture beyond this point and we’re into the sorts of wines that are making Muscadet rightly famous once again. The Cru bottlings of Clisson and Chateau Thebeaud represent all that can be achieved from old vine low yielding Melon de Bourgogne grown on a mixture of schist, granite and gneiss. Clisson, on granite, receives a full two years sur lie in underground cement vats, while Chateau Thébaud receives 40 months on its lees in the same vessels. Neither sees any new oak nor chaptalisation and both are fermented with natural yeasts, prior to which there is no addition of sulphur. The poor soils of the Chateau Thébaud vineyard provide freshness, a mineral core, an elegance, while Clisson’s slightly richer top soils provide a shade more body, more spice and more profundity. For both, the extended ageing sur lie provides complexity, freshness, savoury notes that often lead to a touch of smoke and a remarkable longevity – indeed, contrary to conventional wisdom on Muscadet, these would appear to be at their best between 5 and 10 years of age.