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Domaine de Haut Bourg Muscadet: Aged to Perfection

Sure, Muscadet is one of the wine world’s best secret weapons, but can it age?

Muscadet may be the perfect white wine, crisp and refreshing, endlessly versatile and slightly saline. We happily drink it immediately after release, but it's a wine that can age supremely gracefully. We've been blown away by 30 year old wines teeming with elegance and vigor. All of this for a wine with average bottle prices of $15-25, where the finest examples from the best producers cost less than other regions' entry level bottlings.

Domaine de Haut Bourg, a 4th generation winery in the Côtes de Grandlieu AOC, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Loire River, does something few Muscadet producers do. They hold back parcels of their old vine cuvée, only releasing it after extended lees contact and in prime drinking condition. Just one bottle will convince you that not only can Muscadet age, maybe it should.

Perhaps the most crucial step in making Muscadet is lees aging, a process that imparts complexity and a richer, more complete texture. Haut Bourg’s ‘Origine’, which comes from 30-60 year old vines, spends 7 years aging on its lees (for reference, the average bottle of Muscadet sees 6 to 12 months of lees contact), and then another 5 years in bottle.

And yet, with over a decade of bottle age, the wine is almost unbelievably fresh, bursting with lively fruit and bright minerals. It’s a testament to what careful and deliberate aging can do to a great bottle of wine.

The most noticeable difference between the Origine and a bottle of the estate's new release, entry level bottling is the unbelievable texture — lush, broad and silky. Acidity hasn't suffered, nor has Muscadet's classic notes of crushed stone and citrus. It's as if all of the wine's individual characteristics have melded into a fine, cohesive entity, and we can't get enough.

At regular price, this wine would be a steal, but with today's special discounting, it's a no-brainer. With warm weather approaching, you'll want to stock up. Perfectly aged wine, for less than $20? What more could you ask for!

Haut Bourg, Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu "Origine du Haut Bourg", 2009
Crushed stone, citrus (lemon peel, lime leaf) and more subtle notes of mint, iodine and pineapple abound in this delicate, slightly savory wine. A wonderful wine with tons of complexity.