Aging Muscadet on the lees – and a Melon de Meursault

muscadet decanter
Muscadet gives pleasure when it is freshly squeezed. But aging the best examples can be worth the wait.

Muscadet gains richness with time spent on the lees. Lees are neither Confederate generals nor blue jeans but rather spent yeast cells that fall to the bottom of the barrel or tank when their work is done. Stirring them can give a wine a broader, heftier feeling–without at all adding woodiness.

At Luneau-Papin, the wines not only highlight different soil types, but also different lees aging.The tasty “L d’Or” comes from both granite and gneiss soils and sees 11 months on the lees. (This wine can also do well with extended aging in bottle as the 1999 I recently tasted was fresh and delicious.) The golden “Excelsior” bottling, from schist soils, sees 36 months on the lees and is creamier and richer. Their structured “Peuri Solis” sees 42 months on the lees before bottling.

As the name of the grape (Melon de Bourgonge) suggests, it originally hailed from Burgundy. Some juice from Pierre Luneau-Papin’s vineyards recently made a trip back to Burgundy to be made into wine by none other than the maestro J-F Coche, making me wonder if it would be, in fact, be a Melon de Meursault. A call to Coche (he has no email or website I could find) divulged that he had, in fact, mad a “miniscule” amount of Melon de Bourgogne. Coche-Dury has been known to drive wine enthusiasts to the brink of their senses in seeking out his wines. Alas, this curiosity won’t ever be available commercially as Coche says it for “personal consumption.” But it sure would be fun to try!
white wine decanter muscade

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10 Responses to “Aging Muscadet on the lees – and a Melon de Meursault”


  1. Yes, indeed, muscadet can age nicely.


  2. Excellent! No one will look at me like I’m nuts ever again! Bring on the next funky thing, perhaps German whites other than Riesling and Gewurz? Gutedel, Silvaner, Elbling, Ortega perhaps? Thanks for the good read Doc!


  3. Nice to see this Muscadet post Tyler.

    I think an important point with Pueri Solis is that itis very atypical for Muscadet. The top two cuvées are the first two you have mentioned – L d’Or and Excelsior/Clos des Noëlles. The first is the classic Muscadet S&M sur lie – cool fermentation, no malolactic, bottling before November the year after harvest in order to get the sur lie designataion. Whereas Excelsior is their “Troisième Niveau” cuvée, handled in much the same way but left on the lees for an extended period of time, as you indicate, making it (paradoxically) ineligible for the sur lie designation.

    The Pueri Solis, however, is something of an anomaly and I am not sure Pierre-Marie Luneau and father Pierre will be making it again. It is an experimental cuvée, and alongside the extended lees aging you mention it has also undergone malolactic. It has a very different style from the preceding two wines, sweet and peachy on the nose, with a softer style in the mouth and less profound minerality than they achieve in some other wines. It is a good wine in its own right, but it veers too far away from the structure and vibrancy that Muscadet can bring for me.


  4. Hi Chris,

    Thanks very much for your detailed comment. I had “ML” scribbled next to the Pueri Solis but I couldn’t recall if the wine underwent, in fact a malolactic fermentation so thanks for clarifying.

    That is pretty ironic that the extended aging on the lees of the Excelsior makes it inelegible for the “sur lie” designation! One day I aim to understand the logic of all the French wine rules…

    Obi Wine Kenobi – Rock on!

    Dave – Thanks for pointing us to your post on the Granite de Clisson.

    All – it would be fun to do a tasting of troisieme niveau wines, especially from 2010!


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  6. Doctor, I love your Blog, and am very glad I discovered your excellent site. It is great to see attention given to Muscadet, sadly a very over-looked and under-appreciated varietal in the United States. I know your excellent and clear descripton hs inspired me to refresh my experience with Muscadet immediately.

    I recently wrote about Argentine Torrontes, another very floral and aromatic wine that doesnt get the attention it deserves and encourage your readers to give it a try. Producers like Crios and Trivento are making very affordable and very delicious Torrontes that is readily availabe in the USA.

    We are also seeing more experimentation in California with ading sur lie and battonaging of Chardonnay’s at the lower end of California’s price range for Chardonnays. 2008 Zaca Mesa and 2009 Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnays are great examples of lush, full-bodied wines under $15, created by Winemakers that put in a lot more effort but at only a little more cost.

    Again thank you for for your excellent Blog!


  7. Tasted the ’05 Pueri Solis recently as well and fell in love! Gorgeous texture that screams for some creamy east coast oysters http://wineberserkers.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=35542&p=467045&hilit=2005+luneau+papin#p467045

    Interesting to see Coche playing with Melon. My gut tells me that if it were ever made commercially, its price would immediately make it the world’s most expensive Melon.


  8. I just found your blog and love it! Thanks for the heads up on such great stuff!


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  10. [...] indigenous yeast in the fermentations (true of all their wines) and spends one year in tank with lees stirring. It’s not made every vintage; in 2008, there was no cepas vellas. The 2009 is remarkable: like [...]


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