Muscadet is a white wine of France, made at the western entrance to the Loire Valley, near the city of Nantes in the Pays de la Loire region. More Muscadet is produced than any other Loire Valley wine. It is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, often referred to simply as 'melon'.
As a rule in France, AOC wines are named either after their growing region or after their varietal (the latter Alsace only). The sole grape varietal used to produce Muscadet, Melon de Bourgogne, was initially planted in the region around the 17th century.
It became the dominant varietal after a devastating hard freeze in 1709 killed nearly all of the region's grape vines.
The generic 'Muscadet' appellation, officially established in 1937, contains three regional sub-appellations: Muscadet-Sevre et Maine, officially established in 1936, and produces 80% of all Muscadets. Muscadet-Coteaux de la Loire, established in 1936, and Muscadet-Côtes de Grandlieu established in 1994.
Vineyards in the Muscadet region are scattered across a wide range of terroirs ranging from gentle slopes near the rivers to rolling hills to flat fertile land near the mouth of the Loire River.
The most ideally situated vineyards are in the rolling hills Muscadet-Sevre et Maine sub-appellation located south and east of Nantes.
The soil in this area is rich in magnesium and potassium, made up of clay, gravel and sand above sub-soils of gneiss, schist, granite and volcanic rock. The most common viticultural hazards in the Muscadet region is winter and spring frost and threat of mildew near harvest. The Melon de Bourgogne has adapted well to these unique conditions, being very frost resistant and capable of ripening early.
Muscadet wines are often light bodied and almost always dry with very little, if any residual sugar. Muscadet has been described by at least one wine critic as the "perfect oyster wine". The moderate alcohol (always under 12%) allows them to complement many dishes without overwhelming them. Most Muscadets should be enjoyed within three years, there are some exceptions - and served between 9-11ºC.