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Wine Reviews: Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet, The Moose Wine
by: Vino Joe (e-mail
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Vino Joe continues the quest for interesting white wines that don't say "Chardonnay" on the label; aren't over-extracted, over-oaked or over-produced; DO work wonderfully with food; DO resemble or are typical of the region of origin; and are affordable for frequent enjoyment. Sounds like a tough assignment, but it isn't really. All it takes is spending a few extra minutes in your local wine shop. First, walk past the over-hyped bottles adorned with pretty signs, colorful bunting and obnoxious display pieces (i.e., ox carts, mobiles, TV screens, etc.). Next, talk to the person or people who work at the shop. You'll be pleased to find out that they are only too happy to steer you to something off the beaten path -- maybe one of their own favorites. Pioneers such as Lewis and Clark had the chutzpah to discover an unknown land now known as the USA, so find some boldness within yourself and explore new trails in your favorite wine shop! 

Maybe you'll stumble upon a gem such as Muscadet from Domaine de la Pepiere. Huh? It looks like a mouthful to say, but it's really not too difficult. Think of it as the "Moose" wine: It's pronounced "moose-kuh-DAY." Muscadet is one of the great underrated wine regions of France (naming wine after the region from where it comes is a very French thing to do), located in the Loire and producing dry whites that happen to go very nicely with the local oysters and shellfish. There are many neutral (i.e., boring) wines made there, but many excellent varieties come out also. The trick is to find two things on the label: "Muscadet de Sevre et Maine" -- this means the wine comes from the best appellation, between the rivers Sevre and Maine -- and "Sur Lie," which indicates the wine was left on its lees. We're not talking about blue jeans here -- it's a winemaking technique of leaving the juice on the grape remains. The concept can get pretty technical; the main thing for you to remember is that "Sur Lie" means the wine will be richer and more flavorful than a Muscadet without "Sur Lie" (at least in theory). 

Domaine de la Pepiere (PEP-ee-ay) Muscadet is fresh, clean and citrusy on the nose and in the mouth, with a delicious mineral component (so match with oysters and shellfish!). Bright grapefruit and lime flavors fill your palate, and are nicely balanced by a good brace of acidity. (Acidity is what makes a wine crisp, and therefore refreshing, on a hot summer day.) There's so much mineral it almost tastes salty, but it's nonetheless enjoyable. Bright punches of grapefruit (again!) highlight the finish, which is longer than expected for such a light-bodied wine and is perfectly balanced. I enjoyed this immensely with homemade baked ribs and BBQ sauce, and recommend it with other pork dishes, spicy cuisine, seafood (sushi!) and most white meats. In fact, it would be more difficult to find foods that it doesn't go with. Great wine, great price, and you can look like a genius to your friends when you order it in a restaurant or bring it to the next barbecue.

If you can't find Domaine de la Pepiere's Muscadet, don't fret. So few people know about Muscadet that very little of it comes over from France; as a result only the good stuff is shipped overseas. So as long as you follow the tips on what words to look for on the label, you're sure to get a decent bottle of wine -- at a bargain price.

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For even more info on wine, visit our Vices Web Guide!


More Wine Columns from Vino Joe

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