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The massive Muscadet region is on the western edge of the Loire Valley near the city of Nantes and in proximity to the Atlantic ocean. Dutch wine merchants actually laid the groundwork for the region by encouraging locals to plant the early ripening Melon de Bourgogne grape in the 1600s so that they could secure a closer source of wine to distill into their favored "brandewijn."

Following a devastating frost in 1709, the heartier Muscadet grape was given preference for replanting the vineyards. The still wines now produced, as one might expect, are fresh, low-alcohol, and sharp in acidity as befits the cold maritime climate. Muscadet is a favorite to accompany the fresh shellfish of the region and has garnered an international reputation for its ability to pair with briny oysters.

Several regions within Muscadet append their names to the appellation but it tends to be shades of gray. There are vast quantities of Muscadet produced and consumed and much of it is so-so. Choose a quality producer and perhaps most importantly make sure that the vintage is from the previous year. Muscadet loses its freshness rather quickly and export markets tend to have older vintages lying around. A fresh bottle is one of the worlds best aperitifs and will provide fantastic value. (Wine/Appellations)