Domaine de l'Ecu
Many feel that Domaine de l'Ecu (along with a very small group of other domaines, of course) is to thank for what Muscadet is today. The domaine's influence can be attributed to three main factors:
1) Early adoption of organic viticulture in the Loire, well before it was fashionable to do so. The vineyards of Domaine de l'Ecu have been certified Organic for over 40 years and certified Biodynamic for over 20 years.
2) Stong belief in the unique terroirs of Muscadet that inspired vinification and bottling based on soil type, as opposed to appellation blends. Thus was born the famed terroir wines from the subsoils of Gneiss, Orthogneiss and Granite.
3) Unlike most regular Muscadet, the wines are aged sur-lie for 15-18 months, resulting in a texture and layered complexity that have come to define the unique style of Domaine de l'Ecu Muscadets and set them apart from other wines in the appellation. In fact, some Loire cogni scenti have argued that Domaine de l'Ecu should be its own appellation - like Chateau Grillet, for example - due to the singularity of the wines.
Besides these factors, there are a series of non-negotiable "house rules" that apply to all the wines at Domaine de L'Ecu: working the soils, harvesting by hand, fermenting with indigenous yeast, avoiding pumping or racking of the must (only gravity), and minimal use of sulfur. All in all, it is a philosophy of "no make-up"; just true wines without adulteration or artifice.
In recent years, the domaine has seen a change of hands since celebrated owner and natural viticulturist Guy Bossard had no heirs interested in taking over the property. The estate is now run by a passionate, wine-loving gentleman named Frederik (Fred) Niger. Fred is a very “hands-on” owner and is dedicated to maintaining the greatness of the estate. To that end, he has retained Bossard as an ongoing consultant to ensure a smooth transition.
Like Bossard, Fred is a fanatic in the vineyards, crops extremely low, and makes Muscadets that have remarkable depth, precision and ageability. His passion and connection to the natural world guide his every move in the vineyard and cellar. He is present, observant and mindful, always with the goal of working in tandem with the forces of nature and never against them. In recent years, Fred has embarked on a compelling endeavor to craft a collection of Vin De France varietal wines fermented and aged in a combination of amphora and barrel, and sometimes amphora alone. He is particularly interested in the energy exchange between vessel and wine, and ultimately in how this energy is transmitted to those of us who have the pleasure of experiencing these vibrant, lively, pure expressions of soil and grape. less