Domaine de L’Ecu makes the best Muscadet in France. It has done so since 1972 under the leadership of Guy Bossard. These are iconographic wines that raised the bar for Muscadet and was one of the first biodynamic producers in France. Recently, Guy Bossard has brought on his successor Fred Niger, who took over ownership in 2012. For now Bossard remains at the estate as a consultant. Since then, the red wine program has been revamped and several new cuvees added, with a focus on cab franc from old organic and biodynamic vineyards, fermented in amphora. As with any change in ownership in a legendary estate, many were in ‘wait and see’ mode. Mr. Niger has proven to be an honest caretaker and fanatical devotee to the region. He is hands-on and has learned from Bossard himself how to tend to the vineyard and make truly transparent wine. The early results of the new red cuvees is very promising.
Can Red Wine Help Muscadet?
The story of Muscadet is one of decline. Despite the success of domains such as Domaine de L’Ecu and Luneau Papin, vineyards are abandoned regularly. Acreage has declined from 14,000 hectares in 2000 to 7,000 today due to downward price pressure and over-supply. The only way to change this is to raise the reputation for quality by making better wine and, perhaps, imposing stricter regulations. Bossard has contributed to the latter by working on establishing a new ‘village’ AOC system with higher standards to promote the concept of quality and terroir.
As may be obvious, Domaine L’Ecu is located in the Nantes, and the Domaine’s AOC does not permit red wine. Moreover, L’Ecu ferments in Amphora, a technique that makes it difficult for the wines to pass the regulatory tasting panel. As such, the wines are all labeled ‘vin de France’.
The Invictus is one of the newest additions to the lineup. It is an amphora fermented Cab Franc from vines planted in 1975 on granite soils. These grapes used to be used for sparkling production but have been converted to dry reds due to what Fred sees as the potential for the region to make great red wines so long as they employ the highest quality farming with continually learning how to adjust canopy management to ensure full ripeness. The wine sees 8 months skin maceration in amphora and is bottled without the addition of any sulphur.
Burgers and Cab Franc
At 11.5% this is easy wine to drink. It is quite mid-weight, but with fresh crackling acidity. The pyrazines are strikingly extremely low, and you can expect far more spice and mineral savor with mouth-watering black berry fruit.
I had this with a burger. Forget your big jammy zins and so-called BBQ wines and pick up a bottle of Loire Cab Franc. Trust me…
In conclusion, these are some of the most exciting new additions to the world of Loire red wine. They show the neat potential of Muscadet for red wine. It is refreshing to see a storied domaine acquired by a passionate hands-on owner who respects the philosophy but also wants to extend it to new ideas that are not driven by commercial development. I will be following the development of the Domaine de L’Ecu with relish.
Very Good+ to Excellent
~$40 USD at Arlequin, SF