The why, the what and the how of...

Domaine Luneau-Papin

Domaine Luneau-Papin, regarded as one of Muscadet's leading lights, came about from the union of two neighbouring Loire Valley wine families, Luneau and Papin. Pierre-Marie Luneau, the son of Pierre Luneau and Monique Papin, now runs the estate with his wife Marie.

Pierre Luneau-Papin descends from a long line of vignerons. The Luneau family is well established in the region with a history going as far back as the late 17th Century. Pierre Luneau is the thirteenth generation of his family to carry the first name Pierre and him and his wife Monique are the seventh generation of vignerons to run the Domaine, which was founded in the 18th Century.

The family estate is located about twenty kilometers from Nantes and is comprised of around 40 hectares, with 38 of these planted to Melon de Bourgogne. Rolling vineyards and a mix of terroirs characterise their property with soil types including micaschist, gneiss and schist along with sandy soils and other rocks of volcanic origin. The average age of the vines is about 45 years with some now in their 70s. Theirs wines, produced from the AOCs of Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Goulaine and Gros Plant du Pays Nantais, all express the history of each vineyard.  The main grape varieties are Melon de Bourgogne and Folle Blanche and both reflect the diversity of the terroirs in which these varieties have been planted.

Work in the vineyard is carried out with the utmost care and attention and vinification of the fruit back at the winery is done in small batches according to plot. Indeed, rather rare to the region, grapes are picked per plot and exclusively by hand so as to prevent any oxidation before pressing. There is an immediate light débourbage (separation of juice from gross lees), then a four-week fermentation at 20 degrees, followed by six months (sometimes longer for some cuvées) of aging in stainless-steel vats on the fine lees. This is the classic Muscadet-sur-lie process, which means that the wine is kept on its lees with a specific amount of CO2 used as protection, until bottling in the spring following the harvest. The only modern technique used by the family is what is referred to as macération pelliculaire (maceration of lightly crushed berries before pressing), which varies in proportion according to the cuvées.

Luneau-Papin is one of the most forward-thinking estates in Nantais and it is a real privilege for GD to represent them in South Africa. Following the successful sale of the maiden consignment of wines from the estate, we were able to experience first-hand the potential of the Melon de Bourgogne grape variety and how it can be translated in terms of terroir. These wines are the perfect example of how textually and structurally strong and versatile this varietal is.

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