Import Selection: Muscadet, 1989. Marquis de Goulaine

Few wineries (or brands, or companies in general, for that mat­ter) can boast the extensive heri­tage which the Marquis de Gou­laine winery is heir to. The origins and history of the Goulaine family and its wine are, one can easily say, an inextricable part of the leg­end of the Loire Valley, its famous chateaux and its prolific vineyards. Their Chateau de Goulaine has a drawbridge and moat, turrets and towers, medieval tapestries and stone stairways where, once-upon-­a-time, knights in armour rattled up and down.

Wines have been made along the Loire River ever since the Ro­man occupation of France. The Muscadet district there has three subdivisions. The most famous of these is Muscadet de Sevre & Maine, which name derives from two small rivers that run through the vineyard area about 10 miles south of Nantes. As the Goulaine family owned most of this region practically without any interruption for well over a thousand years, they are currently considered the oldest family in Europe holding vineyards under their name.

The wine is made by Robert, who is the 11th Marquis of Gou­mine. Grapes which have reached the proper sugar content are crushed and pressed immediately to maintain the correct sugar / acid ratio. Unlike many other French wines, no additional sugar is add­ed to the fermenting juice. After vinification, the wine rests on its “lees” (spent yeast cells) until the following March when it is bottled ready to be enjoyed fresh. An unu­sual note: the word “Muscadet” refers both to the grape and to the region in which it is grown. These grapes yield a typically fresh and delicately fruity white wine with a distinctive bouquet and a certain amount of crispness, best enjoyed in its youth.

Goulaine reports 1989 as one of the greatest vintages ever in the Loire Valley. This wine has a very pale green-gold color and a fresh, somewhat flowery bouquet that has a hint of musk in it. On the palate it exhibits very tangy, re­freshing acidity. It is medium-bodied, crisply dry and has a le­mony, melon-like flavor that has a trace of licorice. It finishes clean with the lemony taste lingering.

This wine should be served chilled with raw oysters or sauteed sole, shrimps or scallops.

 Cellaring Notes: Excellent through 1991.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

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