Mussels & Muscadet in our Imaginary Nantes Bistro #Winophiles
#Winophiles Dive Deep into the Loire Region
After our initial cruise through the main wine regions of France, our French Winophiles blogging group is going back to spend some serious time in each region. Our first deep dive will the the Loire. We’re taking a slow virtual cruise up the Loire river from the Atlantic ocean up to the central vineyards in Sancerre.
This month we’re hanging out at the coast in the Pays Nantais region. This close to the ocean, the climate is 100% maritime. It’s cool with plenty of moisture. Delicate white wines will dominate here. There are a few red wines made from Gamay, but you’ll need to search high and low to find one.
As you might expect, the cuisine is dominated by seafood. Clams, oysters, mussels, fish, you name it, with a steamed bowl of mussels and clams a very typical meal. A classic French “Moules” preparation would include a sautéed onion base with white wine and herbs, a version we’ve had on many a Friday night at our house. I wanted to explore something a little different while keeping in the Pays/Nantais theme. After a quick Google search, I found the city of Nantes, France has 5 Thai restaurants, so I’m thinking we could find Thai Red Curry Mussels if we visit Nantes. Bingo!
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine
The most noteworthy wine style of the region is Muscadet sur lie. Made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, these delicate, high acidity wines can spend months on their lees before bottling, typically the following spring. The lees are the spent yeast cells left behind after the vinification process. Leaving a wine on its lees can add complexity and a level of richness to the wine it might otherwise not acquire. The lees also help to preserve the freshness of the wine. Muscadet Sèvre et Maine refers to a small winegrowing area located between the Sèvre and the Maine rivers, both of which flow into the Loire at the town of Nantes.
True confession: I have never been impressed with Muscadet wines in the past. Sure, they are light, minerally and acidic, but I just didn’t understand the enthusiasm for the wines. I asked Mike at Sunfish Cellars for some help picking out some exceptional wines, and he didn’t let me down! Mike pointed me to the wine we used for our pairing today, a 2004 (!) Muscadet Sèvre et Maine. As they are less famous, you can get a typical Muscadet sur lie for less than $20, and even a 12 year old exceptional bottling is only $25!
Le Clos du Château L’Oiselinière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2004 ($25 from Sunfish Cellars)
Eye: Clear, deep gold color
Nose: Smells a bit of the sea and fresh oysters, clean & fresh but briny. Also, a bit of yeasty dough with lemons and pears.
Mouth: Minerally, good acidity but not tart until the finish, then it shows up. Medium body, long finish, with tart acidity, fresh impression, and lemons.
Wine Pairing: Thai Red Curry Mussels & Clams with Muscadet Sèvre et Maine
The Château L’Oiselinière initially seemed much like previous Muscadet wines. Nice texture, but subtle. Over the course of the meal, this wine impressed me more and more, leaving a very strong memory and a desire to go and stock up! Perfect with the mussels and not overwhelmed by the slightly spicy red curry sauce, the wine, even at 12 years old was super fresh with great cleansing acidity. The Thai red curry mussels (and clams) were a perfect addition to our growing list of steamed mussel preparations. When we reach 100 different preparations, I’ll publish a cookbook!
French Winophiles and Pays/Nantais
Take a look at what my fellow French #Winophiles have discovered in our first stop up the Loire river! Join us on Saturday, March 19th for a live Twitter Chat at 8 am PST/11 am EST using hashtag #Winophiles to share your favorite wines, food, and travel experiences from Pays Nantais.
Here’s a peak at what they are sharing Saturday:
Join us this spring as we virtually cruise up the Loire:
- April 16th – Anjou/Saumer
- May 21st – Touraine/Vouvray
- June 18th – Upper Loire – Cheverny, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume/Pouilly-Sur-Loire
Interested in joining The French Winophiles? Email Christy Majors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minneapolis / St. Paul Sources
I’m not compensated by either of these sources, they are simply where I shop:
- Seafood of all types, especially oysters, mussels & clams: Coastal Seafoods
- Muscadet wine advice: Find Mike at Sunfish Cellars
This recipe is a mash-up of a couple versions I found online, here’s one. Julie and I are mussels fans, we figure 1 lb. each as a main dish serving. Ingredients Optional Instructions
Thai Red Curry Mussels & Clams
This recipe is a mash-up of a couple versions I found online, here’s one. Julie and I are mussels fans, we figure 1 lb. each as a main dish serving.