• The Reynas


On July 20, 2020, I wrote an article about Chenin Blanc wines from Loire Valley, France. In that article, I articulated not only my love for Loire Chenin Blanc but also how Shenandoah and I had planned to honeymoon in Loire last year. Of course, COVID-19 changed that.


Well, I’m back with another wine region within Loire where we planned to honeymoon­—Pay Nantais. Pays Nantais is the name of the region around the city of Nantes, which is located on the Loire River near the Atlantic. In the wine world, it is known for a singular grape, Melon de Bourgogne (“Melon”), and its wine, Muscadet.


If you'd rather watch Shen and I present the following information instead of reading, please check out this video:



Melon de Bourgogne’s history


Melon de Bourgogne’s origin is in eastern France. Melon was common in the former region of Franche-Comté, which was named after the Franche Comté de Bourgogne (Free County of Burgundy). Franche-Comté separated from Burgundy in the fifteenth century. Based on its Burgundian origins, it should come as no surprise that Melon is related to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.


On February 5, 1556, Phillip II of Spain and Henry II of France signed the Treaty of Vaucelles to end the war between their two countries. Under the Treaty’s terms, Phillip II was given the Franche-Comté region. Phillip and his crew despised Melon so much that they banned its cultivation in 1567.


The Dutch Wine Trade introduced Melon to Pays Nantais in the 17th Century. The Dutch, who were avid brandy drinkers, were seeking an alternative source of base wine for their brandy. The Dutch convinced the Nantais growers to switch from the black varietals to producing Melon instead.


In the winter of 1709, a catastrophic frost killed most of the vines in Pays Nantais. Louis XIV ordered that Melon should be planted in lieu of the remaining black varietals.


Currently, Melon is the most planted grape variety in the Loire Valley.


© Emeline Boileau


Muscadet wine


Melon de Bourgogne is the only grape used to produce Muscadet wine. The grape is also called Muscadet, which reflects how closely it is identified with the wine.


Back when I first started studying wine, there was one wine term that was synonymous with Muscadet, sur lie. Sur lie means “on the lees.” Lees are dead or residual yeast particles that appear directly after fermentation. For Muscadet to be legally designated sur lie, the wine must remain on its lees throughout winter and bottled between March 1st and November 30th.


Muscadet’s sur lie process occurs in traditional underground glass-coated tanks and stainless-steel tanks. The use of inert vessels like glass and stainless-steel are key to the lees adding beneficial textures and flavors to Muscadet.


While Muscadet marked as sur lie has often been the only version of Muscadet to seek out, that is no longer the case. Many of the best Muscadets are aged on their lees past November 30th; however, these wines can’t be marked as sur lie since the wines exceed the legally permissible period of aging on lees. Village Cru wines, which I discuss below, are often aged on their lees between eighteen to twenty-four months. Some of the finest Muscadet are aged on the lees for up to forty-eight months.


Muscadet’s appellations


There are four Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (“AOC”) for Muscadet. There is the gigantic AOC Muscadet, which encompasses the other three AOCs. The AOC Muscadet became an official AOC in 1937. Its grapevines reach from the Atlantic Ocean to the Anjou region. The other three AOCs are Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire, Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu.


© Vins de Nantes


Beginning at the Atlantic and heading east along the Loire, the first of the three regional appellations you'll encounter is the AOC Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu. This AOC was created in 1994. It is named for the Grandlieu lake—France’s largest natural plains lake—south of Nantes.


Next along the Loire is the AOC Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, which was established in 1936. It is one of France’s oldest AOCs. Muscadet Sèvre et Maine is named after the two small rivers, La Sèvre Nantaise and La Petite Maine, which run through the region. The Sèvre and Maine are the two last tributaries of the Loire before it reaches the Atlantic. Roughly 77% of all Muscadet’s vineyards are located here.


The eastern most regional AOC is Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire. It is also the smallest regional appellation in Pays Nantais. It is situated northeast of Nantes, along the sloping banks of the Loire.


Muscadet’s Cru Communaux


In 2011, three Cru Communaux (Village Crus) were established: Clisson, Le Pallet and Gorges. These Village Crus were created to showcase establish areas of excellence where Muscadet was at its best.


Today, there are ten Crus. Look for these names: Clisson, Le Pallet, Gorges, Goulaine, Mouzillon-Tillières, Monnières-Saint-Fiacre, Château-Thébaud, Goulaine, La Haye Foussaière, and Vallet. These names come from local villages, but boundaries were drawn based on underlying geology rather than a road map.


To be designated as a Village Cru wine, the wines must adhere to strict standards. These wines use the extended lees-ageing process mentioned above. They are made from a certain selection of grapes (e.g., from old vines) and grown on the village’s best plots with specific soils.


These wines are receiving high praise for their ability to age.

Soil


The Pays Nantais is situated on the southeastern tip of the Armorican Massif, which is an ancient massif dating back to the Precambrian Era. A series of geological events resulted in the formation of plutonic rock (granite and gabbro) and metamorphic rock (including gneiss, orthogneiss, mica schist, amphibolite and serpentinite). The chemical composition of these rocks, which form the subsoil of the Pays Nantais, significantly differ from one another, resulting in soils with a wide range of characteristics and behavior.


AOC Muscadet’s subsoil is a mosaic principally composed of igneous and sedimentary rock including gneiss, mica schist and gabbro (black volcanic rock).

Gabbro


Muscadet Sèvre et Maine has various soils of gneiss, granite, schist, and gabbo.


Gneiss


Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire has steep slopes of schist or granite


Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu has sandy, stony soils closes to the Atlantic


Muscadet’s poor reputation


In the 1970s and 80s, Muscadet was a popular, inexpensive wine. However, the big négociants and cooperatives tarnished the wine’s reputation. Négociants are merchants who buy grapes, juice, or finished wine from growers, then bottle and sell them on the market wholesale. Cooperatives are a group of winegrowers who purchase the grapes in bulk, vinify the grapes, and then handle the sales. The négociants and cooperatives took advantage of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers to produce large quantities of basic white wine. It was a high-volume, low-margin business model and the resulting wines suffered. In the early 90s, Muscadet’s exports fell by almost half their 80s' quantity. Vineyards also shrunk dramatically over the next two decades.


The new era of Muscadet


While big négociants still account for 75% of Muscadet production, Muscadet’s future has never been brighter. Many smaller producers have moved away from the use of chemicals and are farming much more conscientiously. They are harvesting healthier grapes and distinguishing between soils. The newest generation of winemakers have trained throughout France and the world and have returned home to showcase what Muscadet can be when Melon is treated with love. There is no better example of where Muscadet is heading than the wines from the Crus Communaux. But even non-Cru wines are improving. It is an exciting time to drink Muscadet!


© Emeline Boileau


Muscadet’s profile


Muscadet’s beauty is that it’s a textural wine. It hits your mouth in ways that very few other wines do because of the aging on the lees. There's a roundness and body that you'd expect from a wine with high alcohol, not a wine with 12% ABV. Muscadet is so good when it hits your lips . . . so good. Queue Frank the Tank:



You’ll often hear Melon referred to as neutral grape, which means it’s not overly expressive or a fruit bomb. Don’t let this deter you. If anything, it’s another reason why Muscadet is a unique wine. Rather than aromas of fruits exploding out of the glass, you’ll encounter minerality and saline. The minerality, which reflects the wine’s terroir, is more evident because the wine isn’t overpowering your senses with gobs of fruit. The saline is evocative of the nearby ocean.


The lees not only provide texture, they also provide aromas and flavors. Muscadet often showcases brioche and biscuit. If you enjoy those aromas and flavors in your sparkling wines, many of which also go through lees ageing, then you’ll appreciate it in a still wine.


Muscadet is a dry wine with high acidity. Alcohol levels hover around 12% ABV. Because of the wine's texture, the body is often medium to medium plus.


Food pairing



MUSCADET AND OYSTERS!!! WOOOOOO!!!


In the wine pairing world, this is as close to peanut butter and jelly as you can get. This is a classic representation of when oenophiles say “what grows together, goes together."


Earlier, I mentioned the salinity often found in Muscadet. That makes it a perfect pairing with all seafood. But it is especially delectable with mollusks.


Because of Muscadet’s acidity and texture, it pairs well with more than just seafood. It’s delightful with a beurre blanc sauce. Muscadet’s acidity and richer mouthfeel make it an incredible pairing with a cheeseboard and charcuterie.


Wine tasting



2017 Domaine Jean Aubron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie Cuvée Élegance


This dry wine showcased flavors and aromas of green apple, pear, honeysuckle, grass, lemon pith, flint, and underripe pineapple. Salinity was present. As was bread from the sur lie. Acidity was medium plus and alcohol was 12%. The body was medium minus. The finish was in the low-to-mid-twenties, which was solid for $16.



2013 Domaine Pierre Guindon Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire Sur Lie


This wine was the star of our tasting. It burst with aromas and flavors of brioche, almond, pear, chalk, mushroom, saline, orange blossom, wet stones, and fennel. The acidity was high and the alcohol was 12%. The body was medium to medium plus. The finish hit the high 20 second mark. Shen immediately commented that we need to go back and buy a case of this. I agree, this wine is exactly why I love Muscadet. An incredibly complex wine with delicious tertiary notes of mushroom and almond from aging in bottle. Yet, only $17.



2012 Hubert Rousseau Domaine Des Trois Toits Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie


This wine was mesmerizing, but it was also slightly past its prime. As you can see from the photo, this wine has oxidized. But it wasn’t vinegar. In fact, this wine confirmed what we had been reading from reliable sources—Muscadet can indeed age. On the nose were incredible aromas of toasted almonds, brioche, cheese, honey, butterscotch, and dried banana. On the palate were flavors of marzipan, cheese, toffee, quince paste, nutmeg, and orange pith. Honestly, if this had been a blind tasting I would have thought Manzanilla sherry. Even with all of these wonderful aromas and flavors, the wine had a short finish, which was disappointing. This is likely due to the oxidation. We will keep our eyes out for this wine again because even if this particular bottle wasn’t at its best, damn, this wine showed great potential.


Last Call


A few years back, Shenandoah and I were wine tasting around Central Coast, CA. We spent one night in Paso Robles and dined at Bistro Laurent, a French bistro. They had an amazing raw bar so we started with a dozen oysters and Domaine Michel Brégeon’s Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie. It was a lovely opener to a wonderful meal. As we departed, we said goodnight to the sommelier and the owner, who were hanging out at the host stand. The sommelier informed the owner of our Muscadet and oyster order, and the owner’s face lit up with excitement. He applauded our wine pairing selection and explained how much he loved that pairing.


Most restaurants have to stock wine that will move off the shelf without any effort so they can keep the lights on, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t gems on the list. These wines are often accompanied by a great story and true passion from the sommelier or owner. We knew the connection between Muscadet and oysters so we didn’t need the hard sale. But that didn’t make the pairing any less incredible. I’d enjoy that pairing any day of the week.


I hope that after reading these posts and watching our videos you become more adventurous in your wine selection and look for the wines that don’t seem to fit with everything else on the wine list. The wines you’ve never heard of or you can’t pronounce. Those wines are on that list for a reason. Ask your server or sommelier why. You might be introduced to a phenomenal wine and food pairing like Muscadet and oysters.


I’m confident that Bistro Laurent has paired Muscadet and oysters for numerous patrons who weren’t aware that they were about to try wine pairing royalty. But now they get it. Hopefully, they too are writing blog posts about it.


Sending perfectly paired love,


John

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  • The Reynas


Hint, it’s pronounced lee-LAY. So, yes, the title rhymes.


What do James Bond and Hannibal Lecter have in common? They both love Lillet! However, they drank it quite differently: James in the Vesper martini and Hannibal straight with an orange slice. What can I say, it pleases all types.


This family of aromatized wines includes a Blanc, Rose, and Rouge. All three are worth trying, but Blanc is the most common.


If you'd rather watch our video about Lillet, here's a video on our YouTube channel for your viewing pleasure:



Quinquinas


Lillet falls into a category of aperitif called quinquina. That sentence might not have made sense to some of you, so let’s define a few words.


An aperitif is an alcoholic beverage meant to be taken before a meal to stimulate your appetite.


A quinquina is an aromatized wine that contains quinine. It's vermouth's slightly more bitter cousin. And like all aromatized wines, it should be kept in the fridge and drank within a few months.


Quinine is a bittering agent derived from the bark of the Peruvian cinchona tree, also called kina kina. The Spanish missionaries introduced quinine to Europe, and it became very popular in the 19th Century. Quinine is most notable for treating Malaria. First, it noticeably acts as a muscle relaxant and seemed to improve symptoms. Upon further more modern research, it stops the reproduction of the malaria parasite within red blood cells.


The British had begun adding quinine to their sparkling water since the country already loved drinking it with gin, thus forming tonic water and the magical pairing, gin and tonic. The French responded by adding quinine to their aromatized wine creating the quinquina.


Other notable quinquinas are Bonal, Byrrh, and Dubonnet. I have a feeling we will cover those delicious quinquinas in future posts . . .


Lillet's History


In 1872, the Lillet brothers, Paul and Raymond, founded the Maison Lillet. They previously worked as merchants in Bordeaux’s fine wine. Bordeaux was already considered the epicenter of wine production around the world as well as France’s key harbor for the Americas.


Their father, Kermann, was both a monk and doctor. As any good monk or doctor would do in those days, he created his own liqueurs and fortifiers. In 1887, he took a trip to Brazil and learned about the Kina Kina plant. He came back with the idea of a Kina aperitif, or tonic wine, and began adding it to his elixirs. His sons then marketed his product and grew the family business.


To this day, Lillet has been produced in its original location of Podensac, a region within Graves, Bordeaux.


Kina Lillet


Kina Lillet was launched in 1895 as an aromatized wine with a healthy dose of quinine. It quickly become popular to drink on its own and took on the name “The Apertif of Bordeaux."


As cocktail bars sprung up around Europe in the early 1900s, mixologist began playing with it in cocktails. Kina Lillet was specifically called for in many classic pre-prohibition era cocktails, including the Corpse Reviver #2.


Kina Lillet was specifically mentioned in Ian Fleming's 1953 novel, Casino Royal.

In this first James Bond book, 007 orders his martini specifically with half a measure of Kina Lillet, 3 measures gin, and 1 measure vodka. This particular martini recipe was lost in the pages of Fleming's first novel until the 2006 film adaptation of Casino Royal hit the screen with Daniel Craig portraying 007. Here's Bond ordering the Vesper:


After that film debuted, the Vesper martini appeared on cocktail menus around the world. I'd happily drink 007, I mean, the Vesper martini any day!


Rebranding



In 1985, the Maison Lillet company was sold to the Borie family, who owned many of Bordeaux’s chateaux. Bruno Borie led the initiative and invested in modernizing the production facilities.


He kept the name, but relaunched in 1986 making a few changes to adapt to current palates:

  1. He discontinued the flagship Kina Lillet. The name kina had become a generic term and didn’t add anything to differentiate the brand.

  2. Lillet Blanc became its replacement and saw a reduction in quinine to reduce bitterness and make for a lighter and fruitier aperitif.


Lillet Blanc


Lillet Blanc is the best substitute for any classic cocktail recipe calling for Kina Lillet. Taking over as Lillet's flagship product, this gem brings flavors of candied orange, honey, pine resin, and tropical fruit.


This pale straw aperitif is made from a blend of 80% semillon, 15% sauvignon blanc, and 5% muscadelle, grapes. The wine is aged for one year in oak casks.


It is fortified with citrus liqueurs made from sweet oranges of Valenica, green oranges from Morocco and Tunisia, and bitter oranges from Haiti. All those lovely citrus notes brighten the wine and balance the semi-sweetness.


Lillet Rouge


In 1962, Lillet came out with Lillet Rouge to take advantage of the US market’s demand for sweet vermouth. This red quinquina showcases flavors of fresh orange, berries, vanilla, and delicate spices.


Lillet Rouge is made from 80% merlot, 15% cabernet sauvignon, and 5% cabernet franc grapes along with the same liqueurs and cinchona bark as Lillet Blanc.


Lillet Rose



Born in 2012, Lillet Rose tastes slightly sweeter than Lillet Blanc and showcases flavors of berry, orange blossom, and grapefruit. This aperitif is delicious on its own, or as a replacement for a blanc or rouge vermouth in your favorite cocktail recipe.


It’s made from a mix of grapes from the other two Lillets: merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and semillion grapes. Plus, the same base liqueurs to fortify as the blanc.


Cocktail Time!


Great Northern

Death & Co.'s modern classic


2 oz Aquavit

¾ oz Lillet Blanc

½ oz Cointreau

¾ oz fresh lemon juice

½ oz honey syrup

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled.

Double strain into a chilled coupe, then garnish with orange twist.


Jessica Gonzalez created this drink at the famed Death & Co. in NYC in 2011. She originally made this drink shaken and over the rocks. However, we prefer if up and presented that way instead. Enjoy our cocktail demonstration here:



Harvest Moon

PDT modern classic


1½ oz rye whiskey

1 oz Lillet Blanc

½ oz Calvados

¼ oz Green Chartreuse

3 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine ingredients in mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled, approximately 20 seconds. Strain into rocks glass over ice. Garnish with orange slice.


The original Harvest Moon shows up in the 2001 PDT Cocktail book with Wild Turkey Rye, Applejack, and a 1/2 oz of Green Chartreuse. It was further adapted by Daniel Eun at the PDT bar with American bonded Rye, Calvados, and 1/4 oz of Green Chartreuse to smooth it out. Also, the recipe calls for Bob Abbots bitters which as difficult to find. Angostura makes a great substitute. Watch a video demonstration here:



Other great choices to make with Lillet Blanc that we have previously talked about include a White Negroni or Corpse Reviver #2. Click on those links to visit our previous posts for more details!


Last Call


There are many wonderful aromatized wines out there to explore. Lillet is one of our favorites. Do yourself a favor, give it a try! Hell, give all three a try and report back on your favorite!


Sending aromatized love,

Shen


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#cinchona

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  • The Reynas


Hello Teakwood Tavern Hospitality family!


We apologize for not publishing any articles or videos since Thanksgiving. We’ve been busy behind the scenes and closing out the year. A year that has been like no other. But a year that brought about Teakwood Tavern Hospitality, LLC so it wasn’t all bad.


This little business of ours has grown a lot over the past eight months. Yes, eight months have passed since we turned a hobby into a legitimate business. We’ve had a lot of fun and learned so much. Still, Teakwood Tavern Hospitality has plenty of room for growth, and we look to sharing that growth with all of you!


Since we’re sharing, let’s discuss some of the wonderful things that have happened in 2020.


Teakwood Tavern Hospitality’s branding


Hopefully by now, you’ve seen Teakwood Tavern Hospitality’s sleek new logos. We’re really excited about these two masterpieces:




&




We have Danny Parker to thank for these incredible logos. Danny is John’s oldest bestie. While that alone is an amazing accomplishment by itself, he’s a super talented artist too! You might have seen a few of his film or tv posters before, like this:



We never could have imagined that our logos would turn out so perfect! We love the art deco design, the colors, and the symbolism of the grapes, wheat, agave, and herb. It’s everything we wanted in logos.


We loved them so much we put them on aprons!!!



Thanks, Danny!!!


Services we provide


We recently learned some of our followers were unaware of the services we provide. Let’s remedy that for everyone who’s still reading this far!


Virtual wine classes


From introductory wine classes to in-depth masterclasses on specific wine regions or grape varietals, our virtual classes are designed for the wine lover of every knowledge level. We can customize to the client’s specific interests or dive deep into topics such as How to Taste Wine, Volcanic Island Wines, Sherry, Madeira, Orange Wines, and many others.


Virtual spirit & cocktail classes


From introductory cocktail classes to in-depth masterclasses on spirits or techniques, our virtual classes are designed for cocktail enthusiasts of every skill level. We can customize to the client’s specific interests or dive deep into topics that we love teaching such as Classic Cocktails, Modern Classics, Exploring Amaro, Understanding Vermouth, and many others.


Personalized videos On Demand


Sometimes it’s hard to get everyone together for a Zoom call, but you still want to share an experience. That’s where our personalized videos fit. We follow the framework of the virtual classes, but record the session so the clients can watch it at their own leisure.


Specialty cocktails


If you want a signature cocktail for your home bar or for an upcoming event, we can construct a delicious elixir that perfectly matches your palate or the event’s theme.


Specialty non-alcoholic beverages


Not everyone wants booze, but that doesn’t mean those individuals are relegated to boring beverages. We love creating non-alcoholic beverages that are every bit as packed with flavor as the cocktails we make.


Cocktails with a Cause


We’re incredibly fortunate for the lasting partnership that we’ve had with the National Liberty Museum. The museum is located in the heart of historic Philadelphia and brings liberty to life through stories of people whose character and courage have expanded liberty for all.


The museum’s Cocktails with a Cause events are virtual happy hour style series highlighting discussions about liberty. Teakwood Tavern Hospitality demonstrates two cocktails that fit the particular event’s theme. We also provide the recipes to those cocktails. These events usually run about an hour.


Our partnership with the National Liberty Museum began in July of 2019 and it is set to resume in 2021. We will let you know when the 2021 schedule is published. We hope you join to support us and this phenomenal museum.


Clandestine Kitchen


We are very excited for our upcoming affiliation with Clandestine Kitchen. Clandestine Kitchen is a “total body wellness” brand, fusing together clean nutrition with other important facets of healthy living such as fitness, beauty, fashion, and surrounding oneself with good, positive vibes. Teakwood Tavern Hospitality will contribute to Clandestine Kitchen’s Wellness Blog. Please follow along as we provide beverage recipes and wine and spirit education.



Two newest videos


Below are our two newest YouTube videos where we make a Chrysanthemum and Scofflaw. We not only demonstrate how to make these delicious classic cocktails, but we also dive deep into topics such as vermouth and drinking during prohibition.


If you haven’t watched any of our recent videos, we highly recommend that you watch the following two. Our video making skills have improved immensely over the past few months.


The Chrysanthemum:



The Scofflaw:



Upcoming articles and videos


We are working on some fun articles and videos that will hit your inbox soon!


John will be tackling one of wine’s greatest food pairings: Muscadet (Melon de Bourgogne) and oysters. You’ll want to slurp down both the article and video!


Shen will cover Bordeaux's ultimate aromatized wine, Lillet. Stay malaria free with the French quinine apertif that covers the wine spectrum with a blanc, rose, and rouge.


Past articles


In case you haven't kept up with our past work, here are links to our 2020 posts:


Wine


Spirits & Cocktails



Damn . . . we've been busy.


Last Call

We can't express how thankful we are for your support over the last eight months. No doubt 2021 will be an exciting year for us all. We're excited to see your beautiful faces in person again and hug each of you tightly. We are also bursting with new ideas to share!


In the meantime, if you are looking for a fun twist on a virtual family gathering, please don't hesitate to holler. We bring a party!



Until we meet again, sending love to you all!


Cheers,


Shen & John

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