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What our expert thought of Marquis de Goulaine Cuvée du Millénaire, Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie




about this wine About this wine
 
Muscadet is unique, and much under-appreciated. This crisp, clean white from the Pays Nantais, around the town of Nantes at the mouth of the Loire, is famed for its purity and subtle salty tang that make it the perfect match for seafood.
 
Muscadet’s uniqueness starts with its name. It’s the only French AOC that isn’t named after a place or a grape variety. The name appears to refer to a “musky” taste, yet modern Muscadet is as resolutely unmusky as a wine can be. Puzzling.
 
It’s also the only AOC to specify a maximum alcohol level - 12% - which is particularly welcome given the trend to ever-stronger wines. When I’m drinking something as delicious as Muscadet, I want to be able to drink more of it!
 
Muscadet’s grape is unique too. The origins of the Mélon de Bourgogne lie in Burgundy but it is no longer found there or, indeed, anywhere else. Only in the Pays Nantais do they grow Mélon but there they grow a lot of it; there’s more Muscadet produced than any other AOC in the Loire Valley.
 
But there isn’t as much produced as there used to be. Muscadet became hugely fashionable in the 1980s and quality suffered as a result. Lots of off-dry, dilute wine was produced to meet supermarket demand and its reputation took a battering from which it hasn’t yet recovered. This is most unfair as, after several decades of lean years, the only producers left are the really good ones. And this wine is from one of the very best - and certainly the oldest!
 
The aristocratic Goulaine family have been making wine at Chateau Goulaine for over a thousand years, apart from one short break. In 1788 they sold the estate to a Dutch banker, a move which undoubtedly prevented its destruction in the French Revolution which started the following year. Seventy years later they bought it back, and they’ve been making Muscadet here ever since.
 
This is their top wine, named Cuvée du Millénaire in honour of that thousand year history. It’s a blend of the two or three best vats produced each year, and has been aged on its lees for an unusually long seven months before bottling. The sur lie aging is what gives Muscadet its sea-spray character.
 
the tasting The Tasting
 
Palest lemon in colour - almost water-white. The light nose is mostly mineral, with a saline aroma like wet stones on a beach, backed up with hints of lemon.
 
The palate is bone-dry and light-bodied with high acidity and great purity. There are subtle citrus flavours and a hint of white pepper, but this is mostly about those salty wet stones. It gains weight as it warms in the mouth, but doesn’t lose its focus.
 
There’s a surprisingly long finish for such a light-bodied and subtly-flavoured wine, on which the mouthwatering acidity really makes itself noticed.
 
Assessment
 
This is a textbook example of fine Muscadet, featuring all the qualities that make it so deliciously right at any time and with any food. It’s about as weighty and powerful as Muscadet gets (so not very), without losing the delightful purity and precision that characterise this most unfairly neglected of white wines.


Tasting notes

Appearance
Very pale lemon
Nose

Intensity light

Aromas saline & mineral - wet stones on a beach. Hint of lemon.

Development youthful
Palate

Sweetness bone-dry

Acidity high

Body light

Intensity medium-

Flavours citrus, white pepper, salty wet stones
Finish

Length medium+

Flavours as palate
Other notes
Great purity. Unoaked.


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