Definition - What does Muscadet mean?
Muscadet is a white wine produced from Melon de Bourgogne grapes grown in the Loire Valley in France. The Melon de Bourgogne grape is considered a neutral flavored grape, and Muscadet is known for the use of winemaking techniques to bring out flavors and to develop mouthfeel in the wine. Due to the different types of winemaking and aging techniques used, Muscadet is rarely bottled earlier than the spring after harvest and isn’t available until the the wine has finished bottle aging.
WineFrog explains Muscadet
Muscadet is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape variety that was brought to the Loire Valley during the 17th Century after a hard frost destroyed the majority of red wine grapevines that were planted there. The grape adapted well to the granite schistous soils of the region and was notably frost resistant. Muscadet is considered a dry white wine, and winemakers rely on winemaking techniques to bring out flavors in the high yielding, mineral, neutral fruit flavored grape.
Among the different techniques used to produce Muscadet are: sur lie aging, oak barrel aging and batonnage or stirring of the lees. Each of these techniques produces a different chain reaction and results in developing different characteristics in the wine. In sur lie aging, the yeast left over after fermentation are left in the wine, this allows autolysis to occur which both adds flavor and develops a fuller body and creamy mouthfeel.
Sur lie aging also greatly reduces oxidation in the wine through the release of enzymes, which means that the wine can be aged longer. Oak barrel aging allows the wine to increase tannins from the oak and to further develop its smooth flavors. Battonage or the stirring of the lees, allows the dead yeast to actively mix with the wine and prevents the wine from absorbing too many tannins while also preserving its color. These techniques contribute to the presence of carbon dioxide in the wine at bottling and give Muscadet a very subtle effervescence, however, Muscadet is regulated by the French AOC to a maximum alcohol content of no more than 12%, and is the only non fortified French wine to be regulated.