Our favorite terroir expression from Fred's epic domaine. We think it's just about the best Muscadet out there!
Site & Vines: *Single parcel Melon de Bourgogne on Orthogneiss. 50-60 year old vines. This is the domaine's warmest exposed parcel planted to Melon.
*Vinification & Elevage: ** Hand harvested, pressed pneumatically and aged on the lees for 15 months in underground concrete tank.
*Production: *35h;/ha; 17,800 btls, 300 mags
*Age-ability: *10 years+
*Suggested Pairings: *Asian cuisine, hot oysters, fish curry, Cassolette, Lobster.
**Notes: Subtle exotic fruit, citrus and spice notes dominate with the piercing iodized minerality on the palate. Complex on the palate and finish with a luxurious mouthfeel. Reminiscent of a dry Alsatian riesling.
Domaine de l’Ecu was founded by pioneering Guy Bossard in 1972, certified organic in 1975 and certified biodynamic by Demeter in 1998. The domaine has been producing unique, single terroir Muscadet for almost 40 years running and makes a stunning array of Vin De France bottlings as well. Fred Niger, who trained extensively with Guy before taking over the estate in 2012, is an equally hands on owner and fanatic in the vineyards. He crops extremely low, and produces Muscadets that have remarkable depth, precision, as well as ageability. Like Guy, Fred is deeply committed to biodynamic and organic practices but he takes these commitments even further by incorporating various types of energy work, working in terracotta amphora, and using minimal to no sulfur. Fred continues to make the domaine's stunning single parcel Muscadets maintaining their benchmark quality, while expanding the domaine's offerings with myriad single variety bottlings beyond the appellation's Melon de Bourgogne and fermenting and ageing in amphora.
In the vineyard, soils are worked and green harvesting is essential in order to keep the high yielding, workhorse Melon de Bourgogne in check. This helps aerate the vines protecting them from mildew and also encourages greater expression of site in the fruit as the vine spends less energy on non fruit-bearing growth. Everything is harvested by hand. There is no modern technology in the the cellar, not even pumps. All cuvées are fermented with native yeast and gravity is used throughout the cellar, from receipt of the harvest and pressing into the fermentation and ageing vessels, whether it be an underground cement tank for the Muscadets or neutral barrel or terra cotta amphora.
Why amphora? Amphora are made of the earth, and therefore the perfect medium for working as close to the earth and naturally as possible. Fred believes amphora are the natural extension for the domaine and allows for a more pure expression of the terroir without any outside interference. In addition, ageing in amphora harmonizes the texture, softening tannins and giving a wine, even when young, structured and age-worthy, a rounded, velvety mouthfeel. These wines are as delicious as they are beautiful to look at!
Depending on the cuvée, sulfur is either used minimally or not at all. Total sulfur levels at a max are 30/40mg/l, which is less than half of the max allowed by Demeter (their limit is 90mg/l), which itself is already far more restrictive than the max levels allowed with "Agriculture Bio" certification ( French organic certification), which is 150ml/l. As Fred likes to say, he makes wines "without fuss, farce, or make-up".
Most notably, Fred continues to go beyond the limits of standard Muscadet and the Melon de Bourgogne grape with his stunning VDF wines, impressive not in the least because they have no added sulfur and yet ring with a purity, vibrancy and clarity that defies what one thinks is possible with natural wines. The Estate VDF bottlings use mature vines originally planted by Guy Bossard. Fred has also recently spearheaded two new projects, Les Temps de Copains and Love & Grapes.