Chateau Thébaud, Muscadet de Sevre et Maine, 2012

  Famille Lieubeau

Chateau Thébaud, Muscadet de Sevre et Maine

The Schist and Gneiss soils of Chateau Thébaud play host to some of the Lieubeau family’s oldest vines, up to 70 years old, and the resulting wine possesses a wonderful mineral elegance, the result of poor soils and the schist bedrock. Fresh golden fruit notes combine with a touch of smoky yeast character on the nose, the result of 36 months spent on the lees without battonage. On the palate this has caressing, wonderfully fluid attack, with lemon balm and peach notes alongside fresh fennel and anise flavours. No hard edges, but plenty of complexity here. Released 4 years after harvest.

Contains Sulphites.

About Famille Lieubeau

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 Confluent cuvee is a classic Muscadet with fine minerality and very true, salty citrus oil flavours – it’s a wonderfully pure wine that doesn’t fall back on cold stabilisation or skin contact for character; summer drinking par excellence and the definitive partner to an extravagant plate of fruits de mer.

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. The Domaine is currently in conversion to Organic status.

Appellation: Muscadet

Muscadet is a region which extends south-east of Nantes towards the mouth of the Loire river. The most important region within is undoubtedly Muscadet-Sevre et Maine, home to the Sur Lie wines that rest on their lees giving greater character to the dominant grape variety Melon de Bourgogne. Unsprisingly given their proximity to the sea these wines can prove to be excellent partners to shellfish and simple fish dishes.

Grape Type: Melon de Bourgogne

Melon de Bourgogne is found almost exclusively in the western parts of the Val de Loire, especially in the Maine-et-Loire areas surrounding the city of Nantes. The most highly regarded and densely concentrated plantings of Melon are found in the Muscadet Sevre-et-Main appellation. Recent decades post the 1970s have seen a resurgence in quality following a reduction in overall vineyard area and a more analytical approach to suitable site selection. In the past Melon’s naturally hardy personality; being generally well resistant to frost and cool temperatures, and relatively abundant yields, tempted producers to plant vineyards indiscriminately and on scale. Regarded as a generally neutral grape in terms of actual character, it nevertheless has a uniquely saline appeal in the better examples and pairs particularly well with oysters and seafood for this reason. Melon’s generally inexpressive fruit character lends itself well to extended ageing on the lees, producing Muscadets that combine crisp lemony fruit and salty savours with bread, yeast and brioche notes. This “leesy” character is generally encouraged, serving to soften acidity, add texture and impart a savoury complexity in the wines.