One of my shining moments as Cave Dweller came last year
about this time. Monsieur Jean invited me down to his cave for
a p'tit verre, I contributed a bottle of Muscadet sur
lie that my friends from Nantes had brought me the week before.
Jean was very impressed with the Muscadet. He said it was très
délicat et très fin. As we were praising this
bottle, Gilbert came by and he was also impressed with it. Gilbert
who is usually in a hurry to get back to work asks for another
glass. When you don't want too much wine you lift your glass
to lift the spout of the bottle. Gilbert did something that I
have never seen before. As Monsieur Jean was pouring, he looped
his forefinger over the spout of the bottle to keep him from
stopping the pour. This very delicate wine from Nantes created
a festive atmosphere and resulted in a prayer from Monsieur Jean.
While lifting his glass above his head he recited his mass: Il
est clair; il n'y a pas de dépôt; tu n'en veux pas;
toi non plus. Amen à boire. It's these sorts of moments
that make wine more than a beverage.
The best of this wine is the Muscadet sur lie. It is made by leaving it in the barrel with its dregs. Normally wine is separated from its dregs at least three times by drawing off the wine in the top of the barrel and allowing it to age in clean barrels. By leaving the wine in the barrel on top of its dregs(lie), the best and most natural wine is produced. It also allows early bottling which produces a light carbonation in the form of microscopic bubbles that give the wine a special freshness.
Like many good things in France, there is an ancient tradition behind the sur lie method of making wine. When a wine maker's daughter became engaged to be married, he would set aside a barrel for the wedding called the barrique de noce. This barrel was set aside for the wedding guests and allowed to ferment on its lies. The wine turned out to be so good that this method became a tradition with the Muscadet wines.
It has been AOC wine since 1937 and is made with a grape called melon de Bourgogne. It is a hardy variety of grape that is well suited to the regional terroir and the rugged climate of the nearby Atlantic Ocean. About half of its production is exported. As I glance down at another glass of muscadet and admire its pale yellowish gold that picks up reflections of green as I swirl it in my hands I can't help but remember and smile.
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|January 3, 2001 - Ode to Protein|
|December 27, 2000 - Summer Dreaming: Escargot|
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|December, 13 2000 - Back to France|
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