Muscadet wine is quite separate from Muscat wine. Muscat wine is made from the Muscat grape, where as Muscadet is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. Muscadet is actually named after the region it is produced in which is located in the Northeast area of France along the Loire Valley.
Melon de Bourgogne, the sole grape variety used to produce Muscadet, was initially planted in the region sometime in or before the 17th century. The grape became dominant in the area after a hard freeze in 1709 killed most of the region's vines. Dutch traders who had major interests in the local wine trade encouraged the planting of this variety and distilled much of the wine produced into eau de vie for sale in Northern Europe.
Melon de Bourgogne grapes are so flavorless that many producers let the wine sit on the lees all winter, letting the grape absorb some extra flavor. This also helps give the wine a small amount of carbonization and life. Muscadet wine is very light, slightly tangy, with just a hint of sparkle.
Wine growing in the region dates back to the time of Roman Emperor Probus. Who ordered soldiers to plant vineyards in the area.
The origins of Muscadet wine, and its association with the Melon de Bourgogne grape remains a bit of a mystery. Many believe the grape was first introduced to the region in the 17th Century by Dutch traders looking for a source of neutral white grapes to be distilled into Brandewijn. Following the freeze of 1709 there is evidence that King Louis XIV ordered the replanting of the area with a grape by the name of Muscadent Blanc, which was most likely Melon de Bourgogne.
Muscadet had fallen out of favor by the 20th century, due to its reputation as a homogenous and simple wine. The use of New winemaking techniques in the late 20th century has seen a rise in the quality and complexity of Muscadet wines which has seen sales increase.
The Muscadet growing region lies at the far western reaches of the Loire Valley and is dominated by maritime influences of the nearby Atlantic Ocean. The area experiences high rainfall and Winters have the potential to be harsh with deep freezes common and threatening all the way into early spring.
Vineyards within the growing region are scattered across a wide range of terroirs ranging from gentle slopes near the rivers to rolling hills and flat fertile land near the mouth of the Loire river. The most ideally situated vineyards are located in the rolling hills of the Muscadet-Sevre et Maine sub-appellation located south and east of Nantes. The soil in this area is rich in potassium and magnesium, made up of gravel, clay and sand above subsoils of schist, gneiss, granite and volcanic rock. Throughout the region the soils drain well, which is a necessity in a region as damp as this one. In the broader, generic Muscadet AOC the soil is predominately silt and sand while the soils of the Muscadet-Coteaux de la Loire has high concentration of schist and the Muscadet-Cotes de Grandlieu sub-appellation has a mixture of granite and schist based
Muscadet wines are pale yellow in color. They typically have aromas of wet stone, with maybe a touch of lemon or citrus tones. They are light and crisp, sometimes tangy, with a slight sparkle. With the Melon de Bourgogne grape being quite neutral these wines are not high on fruit flavors, but derive most of their flavors from the terroir. They can be decidedly mineral in their flavor with salt, granite and even briney sea air flavors present. They pair well with light fish dishes and shellfish such as clams, mussels and oysters. They also go well with light olive oil based pasta dishes.