Domaine de la Pépière - Les Gras Moutons Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine 2016
100% Melon de Bourgogne
Organic, Unfiltered, Unfined
Loire Valley, France
From the importer-
First bottled in 2007, the “Fat Sheep” is a lieu-dit made up of 2 parcels totalling 1.7 hectares in the cru of Monnières-Saint Fiacre. Gras Moutons could be included in their cru Monnières bottling, but Marc and Rémi have chosen to bottle these "younger" vines of 20 to 70 years old separately. The farming is organic and harvest and all work by hand as for all Pépière vineyards. It came into the Pépière fold through partner Rémi Branger, whose father farmed it for years. The gentle slope faces south and thus ripens well, but slowly, thanks to the constant wind blowing across the vineyard; as a result it is typically the last to be harvested. The soil features gneiss--a compressed form of granite that has a very different impact than the granites found in other Pépière sites--as well as amphibolite rocks scattered throughout.
As for all Pepière wines, the fruit is direct-pressed and the juice settled naturally for 12 hours. It is then fermented in stainless steel tanks with natural yeasts; the wine is aged on its lees in large vats--9 months in the case of Gras Moutons-- until bottling without fining or filtering. Use of sulfur is moderate to very little. Gras Moutons is notably rich, with a creamy, velvety texture wrapped around a strong mineral and acid core and with a finish of incredible length.
It is worth noting that the 2016 vintage was so difficult and so small at Pépière that the Gras Moutons lieu-dit and the Clos des Briords cru were the only wines bottled besides the straightforward (and, unusually, partly sourced) Sur Lie 2016.
Marc Ollivier’s first commercial vintage of Pépière was 1985; his wines were also Denyse Louis and Joe Dressner’s first Loire imports. In the decades since, Ollivier has grown into being the standard-bearer for naturally grown and made Muscadet, a region where historically little consideration was given to chemical-free agriculture, individual terroir expression or the potential ageability of the wines. Pépière’s various sites are rich in granite and gneiss in differing stages of decomposition into sand, clay and rocks; the vines range in age from 20 to over 100 years old. Farming is organic and yields kept low; harvest is by hand (all being quite rare in the region). Long, slow fermentations take place with indigenous yeasts and minimal sulfur. Each wine ages sur lie in underground tank, with extended lees contact for the cru bottlings. Their intensity and complexity defy Muscadet stereotypes—and Ollivier has taken on partners Rémi Branger and Gwénaëlle Croix over the last decade to help ensure that the high Pépière standard is maintained well into the future.