2018 Nicolas Suteau 'Arzur' Melon
Region: Muscadet < Loire < France
Grapes: Melon de Bourgogne
Vineyard/cellar stats: Certified organic, practicing biodynamic; schist soils; grapes are picked late in order to ensure full ripeness, de-stemmed with no maceration on the skins, the fermented and aged 5 months in stainless steel; bottled unfined/unfiltered with no added So2; zero-zero; 13% ABV; 166 cases
Winemaker: Nicolas Suteau
The Loire valley ranges from more continental climates in the east, to maritime as the region approaches the Atlantic in the west, which is why the Muscadet AOC is famous for cool climate wines with a distinct coastal influence. Here, Nicolas Suteau took over his old family farm along in 2007. Like his family had, and like most in the region do, Nicolas worked conventionally for many years until he had an epiphany, and converted to organic farming in 2016. He is currently working towards complete conversion to biodynamic viticulture and eliminating all added So2. His small estate is split between traditional Western Loire varieties: Melon de Bourgogne, Folle Blanche, Pinot Noir, and a local variety Egiodola, which reflect the variety of soils in the Western Loire.
Nicolas' wines are very different from the often linear and one-dimensional Muscadet on the market, so he chooses not to use the Muscadet AOC. Because he's way out on the eastern end of the appellation where the climate is less oceanic, the wines have less of that briny salinity you get in Muscadet, and a touch more body. Also, Nicolas doesn’t manipulate the wines at all – so the wines, unlike most Muscadet, do their malolactic thing, which brings a pleasant roundness and texture to the wine. This is a beautiful, pure expression of Melon, crisp, dry and chalky, with lime zest, chamomile, yellow apples and wet rocks. While Melon is a no-brainer with things from the sea, like oysters and sushi, it's also a surprisingly good pairing with spicy foods. The labels, which look like something out of Games of Thrones, pay homage to the Celtic heritage of Nantes and depict different characters of the Knights of the Round Table - this bottle is the crown jewel, featuring King Arthur himself.