Domaine Luneau-Papin

Many growers in Muscadet still speak admiringly of Luneau-Papin’s 1976 Le “L” d’Or, which was kept on its lees for ten years, a hitherto unheard of aging period. Pierre and Monique Luneau have continued championing quality over quantity and they now make a wonderful variety of Muscadet from schist-heavy vineyards in the communes of Le Landreau, Vallet and La Chapelle Heulin. Pierre-Marie, their son and the eighth generation to join the family estate, added the La Butte de la Roche parcel in Loroux-Bottereau in 2008, a unique and fantastic serpentine-dominated terroir.

Their methods are deceptively simple in the vineyard and cellar: minimal use of chemicals, low yields, hand harvesting, gentle pressing, fermentation with indigenous yeasts and an unhurried elevage on the lees to develop complexity and flavour. The results are anything but simple, and speak for themselves.

The wines

Each of Luneau-Papin’s top plots is vinified separately to distinguish between the respective terroirs. Les Pierres Blanches, as the name suggests, has a layer of whitish silt (placages limoneux) over its schist bedrock; the resultant wine is ripe yet lithe, while its cousin Clos des Allées in Le Landreau is tenser, with more apparent acid from the mica in the subsoil. Le “L” d’Or has always been the prestige cuvée, a beguiling blend of granite and gneiss influences (structure from the former, body from the latter) buttressed by at least nine months on the lees. It’s strikingly rich when young, and multi-layered with age; the best examples improve for three decades. Two of the newer additions to the portfolio are also amongst the most exciting: the Semper Excelsior, with extended lees contact, rich and heady, and the Terre de Pierre, fabulously exotic.