One of the leading domaines of the Nantais, Pierre Luneau-Papin, hails from a long line of vignerons. The Luneau family is well established in the region; their presence here may be traced as far back as the late 17th Century and Pierre Luneau is the thirteenth generation of his family to bear the name Pierre. Pierre and Monique, his wife, are the seventh generation of vignerons to run Domaine Luneau-Papin, which was founded by Pierre's forebears in the 18th Century.
Having studied at Briacé and gained experience with Emile Peynaud and Pascal Ribéreau-Gayon, both of the Faculty of Oenology at the University of Bordeaux, it is perhaps no surprise that Luneau-Papin is one of Muscadet's leading lights. In his immaculate winery, Pierre proceeds to vinify in small batches according to the origin of the fruit. The harvest is done by hand, also a rarity in the region, to avoid any oxidation before pressing. There is an immediate light débourbage (separation of juice from gross lees), then a 4-week fermentation at 20 degrees, followed by 6 months (or longer for some cuvées) of aging in stainless-steel vats on fine lees. This is the classic Muscadet-sur-lie process, where the wine is kept on its lees, with a fair amount of CO2 as protection, until bottling in the spring following the harvest. The only modern technique used here is macération pelliculaire (maceration of lightly crushed berries before pressing), which varies in proportion according to the cuvées.
The family estate now consists of approximately 40ha, with 38ha planted to Melon de Bourgogne located about 20 kilometres from Nantes itself. This is a landscape characterised by gently rolling vineyards and a remarkable variation of terroirs, which include micaschist, gneiss and schist and other rocks of volcanic origin, as well as the sandy soils that first spring to mind when thinking of the region. The vines have a good age, 45 years on average although some are well into their seventh decade. The wines produced at this estate are strikingly pure, with each cuvée expressing its unique soil-signature. They never fail to impress.
NV Luneau Brut
This wine is made from a blend of 40% Melon de Bourgogne, 30% Folle Blanche, 20% Chardonnay and 10% Blanc de Noirs Cabernet all from old vines of more than 40 years. The vineyard is South facing of Le Landreau, planted on micaschist and on gneiss in Vallet. It is grown only using organic fertilisers. The wine is then stored sur lie (on lees) for a period of 5 months before being bottled for secondary fermentation. The wine then remains on lees for a further 18‐24 months before being disgorged.
2014 Muscadet Sur Lie La Grange V.V. (StelvinLux)
From vines more than 35 years old, grown on mica-schist in a south-facing vineyard overlooking the village of Le Landreau and aged on lees for 7 months.
‘Bottled in April 2015, like its younger-vines “Pierre de la Grange” counterpart, this leads with an unusually pungent nose featuring zesty lemon and grapefruit, crabapple and ocean breeze, all of which translate into a vividly bright, invigoratingly crunchy and tart-edged palate performance buffered by palpable extract and suffused with crushed stone and mineral salts. A focused, penetrating finish milks the salivary glands, its meld of fresh citrus and salt leaving behind a sense of mineral matter that even brushing your teeth with industrial-grade Muscadet might not remove. Drink 2017-2026.’ 92 points, David Schildknecht, RobertParker.com, May 2017.
2014 Muscadet Sur Lie Terre de Pierre (17 months on lees)
Vines planted in 1974 on one of the highest and most exposed sites in Muscadet, La Butte de la Roche, in the village of Loroux-Bottereau. Here, the terroir is based on rare 500 million-year-old Serpentinite (pictured above). The juice is cold-settled then fermented with native yeasts and matured on lees for 17 months without racking.
‘Fresh lime and green herbs offer penetrating but cooling aromas and a pungent, brightly refreshing palate impression. For all of its vintage-typical brightness and sense of mineral density, this is alluringly expansive and silken in feel, having clearly gained a great deal from its extended lees contact. A vibrant finishing interplay of alkaline and crystalline notes with citrus and herbs is teamed with saliva-liberating salinity, leaving your mouth tingling and energized and making the next sip irresistible. Drink 2017-2028.’ 94 points, David Schildknecht, RobertParker.com, May 2017.
2014 Muscadet Excelsior Cru Comunale Goulaine (36 months on lees)
From 80 year-old vines grown on schist and mica-schist at La Plécisière in the village of Chapelle-Heulin. The juice is cold-settled then fermented with native yeasts and matured on stirred lees for 36 months. Since 2011, Cru Communal is the new elite appellation in Muscadet. The wines must come from the designated terroir (in the case of Goulaine, schist) and spend a minimum of 17 months on lees. The finished wines are then tasted and certified by a regional panel before bottling. Serve as you would for a good white Burgundy.
‘Last tasted in late July 2016, around three months ahead of bottling, this leads with an intriguingly Chablis-like combination of struck flint, herbed chicken stock and fresh, seed-inflected lemon. A polished, sensationally savory midpalate suggests the introduction of mussel broth, leading to a long finish that awes with its diversity even as it tugs relentlessly at the salivary glands. Drink 2017-2028.’ (93-94) points, David Schildknecht, RobertParker.com, May 2017.
2010 Muscadet Clos des Allées Vieilles Vignes
'The 2010 Clos des Allées from Luneau-Papin is a beautiful example of this outstanding vintage in Muscadet. The wine delivers a complex and vibrant nose that is a tad deeper and more refined than the Pierre de la Grange, as it offers up notes of green apple, beautiful granite soil tones, orange peel, ocean breeze and gentle leesy tones. On the palate the wine is medium-full, crisp and laser-like in its focus, with a fine core of fruit, snappy acids and great backend minerality and briny drive. This is an utterly classic bottle of young Muscadet that will age very gracefully. Drink 2012-2025+.' 92 points, John Gilman, View From The Cellar, January 2012.
2007 Muscadet Excelsior Vieilles Vignes
'As I noted last year, the Excelsior bottling from Pierre-Marie Luneau is crafted from seventy-five year-old vines originally planted from selection massale cuttings in a vineyard with fine southern exposure. The deep, pure and nascently complex nose offers up a refined blend of apple, lemon, spring flowers, beautifully complex, gentle leesy tones, a great base of salty soil, lemongrass and just a whisper of the ocean breezes to come. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and utterly seamless, with a lovely core, impeccable focus and balance, bright acids and a very long, perfectly balanced and youthful finish. This will be a great bottle of Muscadet (it already is!), but for full effect, tuck it away in the cellar for a few years and really let it blossom fully, as it is quite tightly-knit behind its effortless structural veneer. Drink 2016-2035+.' 95 Points, John Gilman, View From The Cellar.
2002 Muscadet L d’Or
'Quite a classic style although there is certainly expressive fruit on the nose. The palate is delightful, full of concentrated, lightly desiccated fruit, but in place of the polished texture seen in some other older cuvées there is an exciting direction, a fine acidity and a lightly reductive, minerally trace. Very dry, and very exciting, with a lemon-fruit purity. Excellent.' 18/20 points, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, February 2013.