- 2021 Vignobles Lacheteau Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine, Loire Valley, France ($7.99 @ Trader Joe’s, California)
European wine producers have a long standing tradition of using labels that are, in a word, confusing. At least to the average wine consumer. This is such a label. But we are here with some “French Lessons” to help you decipher…
There is no small amount of information being presented here on this front label. Let’s unpack it for you shall we?
At the top of the label we read, Val de Loire. This tells us the wine is from the Loire Valley of France. This designation is akin to the Napa Valley here in California.
Next we encounter the brand name. Vignobles is a French term for a vineyard. So the brand name here can be loosely translated to Lacheteau Vineyards. (This Vignobles Lacheteau bottling is a Trader Joe’s exclusive brand. Meaning there is only one place to buy it. Lachateau is a negociant house which is part of GCF Group (Les Grands Chais de France), one of the largest privately owned winemakers in France. They made this wine, exclusively, for Trader Joe’s.)
Next up we get the vintage. This is the year the grapes were harvested. But you already knew that. Stay with me though, the road is about to get curvy!
Next we encounter the phrase: Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this might be the name of the grape variety used here. Phonetically, Muscadet sounds like Muscat, or Moscato, which tend to produce sweeter aromatic wines. But Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine is not a grape, it’s a place name. It is a sub-appleation of the Loire Valley and is named after two small rivers which flow through it. As for the grape used to make this wine, it is made solely from Melon de Bourgogne, a grape variety brought to the western Loire from Burgundy, as the name suggests. The similarity between the name Muscadet and that of the Muscat variety is sometimes the cause of any confusion. But the two couldn’t be more different in stylistic terms, as you will see in the following tasting notes.
Light golden color. Crisp, fresh, honey and apricot nose. Not overly complex, but very refreshing. It has a minerality to it which adds some depth to the otherwise bright notes. Fruit flavors including tangerine, orange, honeysuckle, melon, peach and pear. Lots of spicy acid on the roof of the mouth. Mild, crisp finish with pineapple and melon notes. Would pair perfectly with oysters and other shellfish, even potato chips.
Finally, there at the bottom of the front label is the term “Sur Lie.” No, this does not refer to a French winemaker as being surly. This is a French term meaning the wine was aged “on the lees”. Lees are basically spent yeast left over from the fermentation process and reside at the bottom of the vessel. Extended lees contact are used in white and sparking wines to add texture and flavor. The term has been used most commonly in wines from this region of the Loire Valley.
This is a great white for the price point. If you are a Sauvignon Blanc drinker, I recommend giving this one a try as an alternative. Afer all, it’s gonna be a long – hot – summer, from now on.
Need More Wine Picks from Trader Joe’s – or Costco?
If your search for this wine lands you in Trader Joe’s, take along our handy Lucky 13 list of TJ’s wine here.
And if your wine shopping excursions land you in Costco, prepare by grazing our most recent reviews of Costco wines here in our Lucky 13 list.