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.
2018 Muscadet La Grange vieilles vignes Stelvin-luxe closure
From more than thirty five year old vines grown on mica-schist in the village of Le Landreau. Hand harvested and aged on lees for 7 months. On the palate the wine is fullish, complex and beautifully focused, with solid mid-palate depth, nice framing acids and very good length on the classy finish. “This is sourced from old vines, meaning more than 35-years old, on a number of parcels of schist around the village of Le Landreau. It will be bottled in March, after five months on the lees. It has a perfumed nose, fresh and bright, brimming with white stone and white fruits, with a great salty minerality. The palate is just as convincing, fresh and textural, but sinewy, cut with fine and salty minerals. I see great energy here, and no shortage of acidity or minerality despite the warmth of the vintage. Great. 92-94/100” thewinedoctor.com Feb 2019
2017 Muscadet Sur Lie Terre de Pierre
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.
“As any committed Muscadet fan will know, this is sourced from fairly aged vines, planted in 1974, on the serpentinite terroir of the Butte de la Roche. The aromatics are charming and correct, showing a smoky and salty style, certainly in a reductive vein, but with a pungent substance too. The palate, meanwhile, seems content to communicate primarily its sense of breadth and generosity right now, albeit cut with tension and a note of bitter citrus pith. Long, delightfully bitter and overall an attractive style. 95/100 (February 2019)” thewinedoctor.com Feb 2019
2015 Muscadet Sur Lie La Grange V.V. Stelvin-luxe closure
Fourty five year old vines grown on mica-schist in the village of Le Landreau. Hand harvested and aged on lees for 7 months. On the palate the wine is fullish, complex and beautifully focused, with solid mid-palate depth, nice framing acids and very good length on the classy finish. “From vines aged more than 35 years, planted on a south-facing slope of micaschist near the village of Le Landreau. Attractive aromatics on the nose, quite a classic style, with an expressive nose of white peach, but with a salty fresh mineral vein. The palate shows the richness of the vintage, with quite a plump texture, filled with white peach, lychee and bitter pear fruit, laced with a vein of acid and mineral beneath. Quite pure in style, but polished and accessible. 16/20” thewinedoctor.com Feb 2017
2014 Muscadet Excelsior Cru Communal Goulaine
From 80 year-old massale selection 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.