MUSCADET’S BAD PRESS
Just like with Paul-Eric (link HERE to my article), this is the story of an encounter and of an impulse fondness. Muscadet has had a bad press for several years: overproduction, second-rate reputation, low prices. In most people’s minds Muscadet is perceives as an easy-drinking wine, inexpensive, ideal to associate with oysters. End of story. A little reductive when one knows the excellence of some oysters and of some Muscadet vineyards.
Thankfully, there are some irresistible wine-growers, in love with their terroir and with their grape variety, the melon de Bourgogne, who are bringing about a revolution for this designation. Not only do I approve, but I highly appreciate these new styles of Muscadet
Today’s stopover: Vincent and his Muscadets (to die for !)
Vincent Caillé. Some guy! Very tall, slim, Vincent Caillé is distinguished by his shy smile, tainted with discretion and humility. Some nice curly hair to top it off and you “nearly” have an angel’s face.
During the ProWein fair in Düsseldorf, I’d ticked the number of his stand on my schedule, hoping to meet this wine-grower of whom I already appreciated some references. I was in for a disappointment. As I stopped by, I’m told he will only be arriving the next day. Looking over my busy schedule, I muse on how to reorganise it. I didn’t have to think long. Peak of dawn the next day: the appointment is taken. In Saint-Malo, we don’t give in so easily, mark my corsair words!
As soon as you meet him, you reckon Vincent is nice. Quite reserved to begin with, he ends up smiling. Watching him nearly makes it possible to tell his wines. Sweet, bound to their terroir, expressive, alive, moving.,
Making a halt in the Loire, without seeing Vincent again in his environment sounded quite illogic. Here I am in Monnières towards the end of March, a time when buds are still timid.
THE ESTATE: Le Fay d’Homme
A family estate since 5 generations, le Fay d’Homme covers 27 ha over 4 towns: Monnières, Gorges, Mouzillon, Maisdon-sur-Sèvre. In 1986, Vincent took over the family estate. He was firmly set upon guiding the vineyard from conventional to organic farming. And he had no wish to stop there. He then started, out of conviction for the soil, for the grapevines, for the wine and for his relation to nature, a conversion to biodynamism.
That’s Vincent for you. When he believes in something, he goes for it.
His principle? Quality.
I already knew « Je t’aime mais j’ai soif » (which translates to: I love you but I’m thirsty) as well as “Fief des Coteaux” (Gabbro Soil). But I discovered this wine-grower has more than on trick up his sleeve. He has a much wider range than I thought. And what a range!
To make it simple and straightforward: Vincent’ wines are based on:
- 2 designations: Gros Plant du pays nantais and Muscadet Sèvre et Maine
- 2 village vineyards
- 3 distinct terroirs : gneiss, orthogneiss, gabbro
His wines resemble him. He chose to sell some of his wines under the VDF (Vin de France) designation rather than under the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine designation which would probably sell even better. When Vincent chooses to produce a type of wine, he doesn’t pay much attention to the designation system. What matters to him is the WINE, its quality. “Je t’aime mais j’ai soif” offers the perfect example for this: designated as Vin de France, VDF, without the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine designation but corresponding to the type of wine Vincent wishes to attain. And that’s what matters.
*MY FIRM FAVOURITES*
After I tried the Sèvres et Main from distinct terroirs (gabbro, gneiss, orthogneiss), Vincent led me todiscover his village vineyards from Monnières Saint-Fiacres and Gorges, which I took an immediate liking to!
Monnières Saint-Fiacres 2012 is a white wine grown on a gneiss soil, with a 3 ½ years lees maturing in cement vats. To put it simply, lees maturing, which consists in letting the wine mature in the same vat after deposits of dead and residual yeast have precipitated (most wines are transferred to another container), adds additional aromas, mainly fruity and of additional depth.
And the most recent wine batch, Opus 4, is a top of the range red variety. Vincent may well be proud of himself. Produced with Côt (35%), Abouriour (35), Cabernet Franc (20%) Gamay (10%) with a barrel maturing which adds subtil toasty hints, this Opus 4 is in for good years and I wish this wine a long life! Speaking of which I’ll have another glass please…
A REFLECTION OF QUALITY
If eyes are the mirror of the soul, I’ll testify that Vincent’s eyes reflect the quality of his wine and the perpetual research of new experiments. For instance, he matures some references in buried cement vats, and others in concrete eggs. He has also tried amphora.
With his curly hair, his notorious discretion and his kindness, Vincent almost makes me think of a nice mad scientist in his laboratory. Without a laboratory, obviously. And without the madness.
Vincent is kindness personified: with a love for his craft, epicureanism and availability characterise him. Vincent is a good guy. His wines will put a smile on your face for the day. And smiling is good for all of us!