Loire Valley - Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine - Domaine Pierre-Luc Bouchaud
Domaine Pierre-Luc Bouchaud
Muscadet de Sevre et Maine - Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine
Producing 80% of all Muscadet, the Muscadet Sevre et Maine AOC was officially established in 1936. It covers around 8,200 hectares across 23 villages. In one of those villages, St. Fiacre-sur-Maine, sits Domaine Pierre-Luc Bouchaud. Pierre-Luc comes from a line of several generations of grape growers. After graduation from university with a BTS in 1987, he returned to his family domaine and soon took over for his father. Over the next 20 years, he expanded his vineyards from 11 hectares to 20 hectares.
Bouchaud’s winery is located next to his home in St. Fiacre-sur-Maine, the community that grows more grapes than any other in France. Coincidently, it is also the hometown of Catherine Quénard, the wife of our Savoyard producer Jean-François Quénard. There he has planted Muscadet, Egiodola (bonus points if you’ve heard of that grape!), Côt, and Chardonnay. Bouchaud works sustainably, plowing his soil and using organic composts and only spraying when absolutely necessary. He has begun organic conversion, however, and is on track to be certified with the 2021 vintage.
The grapes are picked (in come cases manually) and crushed, and the juice is fermented in cement-lined tanks and stainless steel tanks. The wine is then aged on its lees in underground tanks until bottling, which normally takes place in the late spring. In 2006, Bouchaud was the rare recipient of the Prix d’Excellence for receiving top notes over the course of five years at the Concours General Agricole in Paris.
Pierre-Luc Bouchaud Pont Caffino
This is the name of parcel of vines that make up the cru Château Thebaud, located where the Sevre and Maine rivers meet. Unlike Le Perd son Pain’s schist soil, granite terrain is the soil for this cuvée, with vines planted just above a ledge overlooking the rivers. While Bouchaud does release a Chateau Thebaud wine in certain vintages, Pont Caffino is released every year. The grapes are hand harvested and undergo a similar vinification to Le Perd Son Pain in an effort to show off its more intense minerality without the dominant yeasty notes that arrive with prolonged aging sur lie. Granite seems to make the aromas pop a bit more than schist, and give it a slightly leaner, higher acid texture. Aromas include green apple and pear pith, along with some stony grip on the finish.
Pierre-Luc Bouchaud Le Perd Son Pain: Translated literally as to lose one’s bread, this parcel with schist close to the soil was thought not to be appropriate to anything but vines, as wheat and barley were lost on these hard, arid soils. Atop the schist in the 10-hectare parcel is a thin layer of silt and sandy soil. Yields of the 50-year old vines are, on average, 55 hl/ha. The grapes are pressed gently, then go into tank. After a cold soak of approximately 8 hours, the temperature in the tanks is raised and fermentation begins. The final alcoholic degree normally is between 12% and 12.5%. The wine rests sur lie for 7 months after the end of fermentation, with some lees stirring depending on the vintage. This wine has a lovely mineraled texture, with flavors that include citrus, green apple and melon.
Pierre-Luc Bouchaud “Château Thebaud”
Château Thebaud is the name of a commune not far from St. Fiacre. It is a new cru in the appellation. Along with the other dozen or so crus, it desperately wants the world to know that the region can produce amazing, complex and ageworthy wines rather than cheap, neutral, high acid wines which often lack character. Bouchaud’s Château Thibault comes from the granite-laden Pont Caffino vineyard and sees lower yields and longer lees aging (30 months). The result is a more vinous Muscadet which, even though aged solely in tank, has the texture and complexity of a wine aged in oak.
Serve this with fish rather than shellfish.