By Rick Riozza

Am I going to break the hearts of some Sancerre lovers or what! I can hear it already: “Say it’s not true Rick—don’t give up on Sancerre! Say it’s not true!”

Well—let me start first with the fact that as your friendly neighborhood sommelier at the Palm Springs Ralphs market, we haven’t had a Sancerre wine on our shelves in a long time—to the consternation of many true French Savingnon Blanc fans. I’ve tried my somm best to get some Sancerre on the shelf! To no avail—it’s crazy!

I know! The spiritual heartland of Sauvignon Blanc is Sancere with its unforgetable bright, citrus aromas along with the finest complex flavors of grass, grapefruit, and herbs. So here I am—with no Sancerre in sight: C’mon Ralph! Do me a solid!


Recently, one of our dear far-flung wine correspondents was traveling through France and I mentioned to her if she could send me half a case of Sancerre from one of her favorite wineries. She did call me and said that a wonderful surprise was coming my way soon via Fed Ex. She wouldn’t say anything more. How fun was my anticipation awaiting for the wine.

I even stayed home so I could receive the bottles of wine immediately without letting it set on my porch in the heat. What a sweetheart she was—an entire wooden case arrived. But the name Sancerre was nowhere to be seen; rather, burned on the wood was the name & phrase: Domaine Pierre-Henri Gadais Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Hommage a Louis Gadais 2022. Indeed! It was a wonderful surprise!

Muscadet [Moo-ska-Day] Sèvre-et-Maine [Sevrah-ay-May-nyah]. Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine is made solely from Melon de Bourgogne, a grape variety brought to the western Loire from Burgundy—as the name suggests. And come to think of it, the grape Melon is a DNA cousin to the Burgundian Chardonnay.

Another point: The similarity between the name Muscadet and that of the Muscat/ Italian Moscato variety is sometimes the cause of confusion. But a single taste of a crisp, dry Muscadet wine will confirm that it is definitely not made from Moscato, a notoriously aromatic (and often sweet) but delicious variety.

At the westernmost edge of the Loire Valley, where the last wild river in Europe meets the cool Atlantic Ocean, lies the gently rolling countryside of Pays-Nantais. As we’re informed on the web: “Here was once an area dominated by red grapes, but when the brutal winter freeze of 1709 killed so many, Nantes became the white wine region best known today for its savory, refreshing wines from the grape Melon.” At the confluence of the Sèvre and Maine rivers is the Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine AOC.

The wine produced there is a very light-bodied, very dry white that is slightly salty—of course it is; the cold & windy Atlantic Ocean is just a few miles away! The wine is balanced with a nice acidity. It shows flavors of anise, green apples, flowers, grapefruit, lemon, lime, melon, minerals, peaches, pears, sea breeze and yeast.

In other words, Muscadet could well be the signature wine of the Coachella Valley, cancelling out the valley’s love for Pinot Grige and Sauv Blanc—dare we say, Sancerre! But it is the desert’s delight: Serve this chilled to around 45 degrees and it will handle the heat of the day and every appetizer, salad, white meat and shellfish dish around the table.

And now: The review of the 2022 Domaine Pierre-Henri Gadais Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Hommage a Louis Gadais ($42)., “Your daily purveyor of fine wine”, has just gone over-the- moon on this wine. Read their accolades! “Raise the ROOF!! This…THIS is what we live for! Utterly awesome, rich and racy, mouth-tingly, bone-dry, uber-fresh, go-get-us-some-oysters-right-away!

“This is the BEST Muscadet we’ve ever had! 15 hectares of ORGANICALLY FARMED melon grapes – composed of a melody of 10 various soils, but mostly granitic rock. We tasted a sample of this just before it was bottled several months back, and I hounded our import manager about its arrival for weeks and months after! Strutted out of the warehouse with two cases as soon as they landed…if you hurry you might be able to do the same today!

“Fermented with wild yeasts, barely any sulfur, added only once – this is the rare uber-geeky, incredibly hip wine that transcends classification…I seriously can’t imagine anyone NOT loving this wine. Call it the Hedy Lamarr of the wine world…brilliant, gorgeous, uniquely inventive, with star power to spare!

“Honeysuckle, melon blossoms, river rocks, UBER-FLINTY, with lemon, tangerine, bergamot, clove, saltwater taffy – DANG! Incredibly complex, layered, weighty – all with a well-integrated acidity that keeps this going on…FOR DAYS! You can lay this down like Grand Cru White Burgundy – but…not gonna lie…it’s going to be Mike Tyson tough not to crack into a bottle a week until my two cases are gone.

Props to those of you who manage to score some…not a lot to go around! Who wants OYSTERS?!?!

Talk about an over-the-top wine review!! It was fun to read, and, the wine is all that! We found the wine nice & juicy, with tropical fruit, herbs, some minerality, and just enough acidity to keep it fresh at every taste. A great representation of the Melon grape.

Well—indeed! Shall we say, “Muscadet is here to stay!”. Move over Pinot Grige & so long to Savvy Blanc. And say sayonara to Sancerre—that is, until we meet again! Cheers!