Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Muscadet in mid-winter

It's not an obvious choice for sub-zero temperatures and while snow is still on the ground, but I do love a crisp, invigorating white to enliven the palate this time of year.

Last night we enjoyed the single vineyard Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu Sur Lie Fief Guérin I'd picked up from Waitrose before Christmas for about £6.50. I zoned in on it as it seemed an attractive option for our supper: aubergines cooked with soy, ginger, garlic, chilli and sesame, garnished with yoghurt, fresh mint and lime and served with noodles. Sipping it before dinner was a treat. The crisp, fresh salinity always make a mouthwatering apéritif and, once we were tucking into the food, the extraordinary versatility of Muscadet became clear. Yes, this is a wine that is perfectly suited to simply prepared fish and seafood – I can't think of anything I'd rather drink with moules-frîtes – but, because of its tingling acidity and subtle aromas, it's a seriously good food wine that can take on some big flavours. It cut through the rich, fatty aubergine like a rapier, yet had enough presence to stand up to the heat and power of the other ingredients. What's more, coming from such a northerly location, the alcohol level is only 12°.

Muscadet is often regarded as old-fashioned, but this demonstrated how contemporary and exciting it can taste (and sealing it with a screwcap will certainly help maximise the fresh purity of the wine – nothing stale and sharp here).

PS Look out for Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie for about the same price: another great value example of this often overlooked wine.

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