Muscadet By Michel Bregeon

Muscadet's new appellations

We've always insisted that Muscadet is more than simply a light summertime quaff to help guzzle down oysters.

Now it's becoming more serious still.

Culminating an effort to define the region's top vineyard sites that began in the 1990s, Muscadet recently received official approval to create its first crus communaux, or communal crus: Clisson, Le Pallet and Gorges, three legally defined sub-appellations founded on their own particular soil types.

One of our favorites of this new Muscadet designation is the 2004 Michel Brégeon Sèvre et Maine Gorges Muscadet ($28). It represents the peak of an already elevated category.

These communal crus are aged sur lie (on the wines' lees) for 17 to 24 months, although many winemakers opt for even longer aging. The result: a deep and age-worthy style of Muscadet perfect for fans of richer whites yet true to the region's textbook mineral core.

Hand-harvested, sustainably made and aged for a whopping five years, the Michel Brégeon is densely textured with an elegant mouthful of stone, seashell and brine cut with green-apple fruit and a whiff of burnt caramel.

Apparently, it takes a whole community to raise one wine.