If there is one white wine that should be essential on the NLC shelves it is France’s most versatile and fairly priced wine match for seafood, Muscadet.
The Corporation hasn’t stocked an example for over two years. The Melon de Bourgogne grapes of Muscadet are grown near the Atlantic Ocean and one can fancifully imagine that they pick up a brininess from that proximity. It’s a fact that they are kept crisp from acidity in the cooler ripening conditions. The best Muscadets are “sur lie,” ie left for a period over the dead yeasts and crud that falls to the bottom of the vessels in which they fermented. This gives them a bit of extra interest and chew.
A great example of this wine, it’s got the pears and sea salt you expect, but has a touch of extra richness and some faint notes of tropical fruits like pineapple and papaya and a surprising touch of a sort of nutmeg/white pepper spice. Perfect for lobster, salmon, oysters, clams, pan fried cod, a Leo’s, capelin or mackerel, and the best match ever with mussels in almost any preparation. Was dreamy with asparagus and Newfoundland shrimp risotto. Really doesn’t make sense anyway but at table, a food wine only. At $20.33 this isthe best value white wine yet reviewed here.
Another wine which doesn’t show without food is the old standard bearer for Chianti Rúfina, Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva. It’s around $25 these days, but often seems to be on sale for a couple of dollars less. Wines made from Sangiovese are notoriously difficult to describe. The Nipozzano has a forward choke cherry note, rhubarb, and some mix of dried herbs. This has always been a reliable drink, there’s nothing profound or too exotic, it’s not the most interesting expression of Chianti Rúfina but does a meaty meal good. This used to be better, unsure whether they are making too much or whether the best grapes are going to the wineries premium offerings.