Building of a hierarchy of wines based on terroirs: an initiative from the producers of Muscadet
The Muscadet area is situated in the southeast of Nantes, close to the Atlantic coast. It constitutes the western extension of the French vineyard “Loire Valley”. The Muscadet is renowned and often spontaneously linked to a white wine.
However it remains misconceived as an ordinary wine, lacking authenticity. Proud of their wines, the Muscadet producers empowered themselves in an ambitious project dating back to the late 1980s. The essential aspects were established on: a fine selection of plots, distinctive vine growing practices and on a lengthening of wine maturation. This approach allowed them to rebuild the hierarchy of appellations, aimed at establishing strong “terroir” identification, which has led to the emergence of “crus communaux”.
The originality of the present study is twofold. First of all, it concerns implementing practical knowledge to identify the most capable fields to produce fine wines and to adapt oenological practices to express the variations of middle. Numerous questions need to be addressed, such as:
– what internal means does a vineyard have and which outside support mechanisms could the winegrowers successfully utilise to complete this step?
– The actors are also central to this study. How could so few innovators change the winegrowing process? And furthermore, how did the producers transform their vision about their natural environment, their knowledge base and their products? Finally, what are the features of these winegrowers, compared with the rest of the vineyard?
– The analysis is based on an intimate knowledge of the vineyard by the authors, coming from various scientific disciplines. Their account is established from a cartographic analysis on several levels. For example, on an enquiry questionnaire that included hundreds of winegrowers, and at meetings with the different actors who wanted to be part of this building process.
Issue: Terroir 2012
1 ADES UMR 5185 CNRS / Université Bordeaux 3,12, esplanade des Antilles 33600 Pessac