04 Jul 2016 | By Barnaby Eales
The new rules mark a seismic change for Muscadet: in the Muscadet appellation, for example, rules have not been modified since 1937.
Until now, only Melon de Bourgogne grapes have been permitted for white wines in the region.
Appellation authorities in the Pays Nantais for the Muscadet, Coteaux D’Ancenis and Gros Plant du Pays Nantais appellations said the latest endeavour would make entry level Muscadet stand out from Muscadet sur Lie; wine aged on the lees and the new high-end ‘Crus’ – three of which were approved in 2011; four more villages in the Pays Nantais are expected to obtain ‘Cru’ status by the end of the year.
The Federation des Vins de Nantes (FVN) said the new rules would cement the structure of Muscadet’s wine pyramid with each level presenting wines of distinction in their own right.
As well as new grape varieties, there will be flexibility on sugar levels and alcohol levels, giving young entry level wines a punchy, aromatic, fruiter, fresh style the FVN said.
“For consumers there will be now a lineal range, showing the breadth of diversity of styles of Muscadet; the segmentation of Muscadet wines is something which has not been very visible for the consumer,” said François Robin, communications director at the FVN, a new body which replaced, this year, the generic Inter-Loire promotional body for the three generic Muscadet appellations. In comparison to the food-pairing wine Muscadet Sur Lie which is aged on the lees and wines from the new ‘Crus’ lying at the top of pyramid, the new entry-level Muscadet’s will be easy drinking, quaffable quality wines said Robin, who added that the rules had come about following tests made on wine blends of different grape varieties.
The new rules have now been submitted to France’s national appellation institute I’INOA are expected to come into force next year.
The new rules are a fresh initiative aimed also at sustaining strong growth in exports. According to French Customs, Muscadet exports to the UK increased 31% in volumes to 23,046 HL and 23% in terms of value to €5.29m last year compared with 2014.
“Today there is a whole new generation of consumers who are looking for a white wine which is dry, fruity and clean, and they love the little zest on the end of your tongue from the lees. These consumers are coming to Muscadet afresh – they don’t have the negative preconceptions that perhaps the older generation of wine drinkers have,” said Chris Davies Sales Director UK On Trade & Independents for distributor, Les Grands Chais de France (LGCF).