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The appellation is located in the Loire wine-growing region at the end of the Loire Valley in western France on the coast to the Atlantic Ocean southeast of the city of Nantes. It belongs to the Pays Nantais region. A decree of the Roman Emperor Probus (232-282) testifies to the ancient wine-growing tradition in this area. In the past, red wine varieties were also cultivated here, but this was put to an end by the extreme frost of 1709. The white wine variety Melon de Bourgogne, introduced in the 16th century, developed into a quasi-monoculture. It became particularly popular with the Dutch, who were involved in winegrowing and distilled eaux-de-vie from the wine and marketed them in Northern Europe. The name Muscadet, which is commonly used here, finally gave its name to the area, which was already classified in 1937. The hilly vineyards cover some 13,000 hectares of vines in 54 communes spread over the entire Loire-Atlantique department. The area is divided into four sub-appellations:
Muscadet: The area covers 3,400 hectares; the simpler qualities grow here.
Muscadet-Coteaux de la Loire (until October 1995 Muscadet des Coteaux de la Loire): This area is located to the north, left and right of the Loire and covers 200 hectares of vineyards.
Muscadet-Côtes de Grand Lieu: This area is located in the southwest and comprises 300 hectares of vineyards on the left side of the Loire around the lake Lac de Grand-Lieu, which gives the region its name.
Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine (until 1995 Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine): named after two small rivers, this is by far the largest area, covering some 9,000 hectares on the left side of the Loire. Here, the best wines are grown on clay soils (Vallet) and slate and granite slopes (St-Fiacre). The production accounts for 80%.
The wine is called the "white answer to Burgundy Beaujolais". As shown in the picture, Melon de Bourgogne is the only grape variety allowed. From the 1990s onwards, experiments were made with and barrel fermentation. Before fermentation, the natural sugar content of the must must must be at least 144 g/l, which corresponds to 9% vol alcohol. If enrichment (chaptalisation) is allowed in bad years, the alcohol content of the fermented wine must not exceed 12% vol. The white wines produced normally (without yeast ageing) can also be marketed as Nouveau (Primeur) from the third Thursday in November after the harvest.
In order to be allowed to use the term "sur lie" (matured on the yeast) on the bottle label, the wine must remain in contact with the yeast in the fermentation vat after fermentation at least until 1 March of the year following the harvest (see under yeast storage). This is reserved for the three higher appellations. This gives the wines a fresh and sparkling taste. A further prerequisite is lower yields. Bottling then takes place immediately after racking without clarification or filtration. For even more full-bodied wines, storage is until 30 November.
Well-known producers in this field are Domaine de Beauregard, Domaine Bouffard, Domaine du Bois Bruley, Domaine de la Chambaudière, Château de la Chauvinière, Domaine Bruno Cormerais, Domaine Michel David, Donatien-Bahuaud, Domaine de l'Ecu, Domaine de l'Errière, Château de la Ferté, Domaine Gadais Père et Fils, Gauthier, Domaine Guindon, Domaine de la Haute Févrie, Domaine du Haut Fresne, Domaine Landes des Chaboissières, Martin Luneau, Marquis de Golaine, Château de la Preuille, Sauvion, Domaine du Paradis