By Robert Parker Muscadet from France's Loire Valley remains one of the best values in white wine, even with a weak U.S. dollar. Known as an accompaniment to fresh oysters, this bone-dry wine also goes well with most seafood and poultry dishes.
The following wines, reviewed by my colleague David Schildknecht, are "naked": unoaked, low in alcohol, and with no residual sugar. They're from the Muscadet S?vre et Maine appellation and are sur lie, meaning the wine has been bottled directly from the tank, where the lees (dead yeast cells and remnants of grape skins) remain. That gives the wine freshness and complexity. Muscadets are best during their first three to four years, so these reviews are for the 2005 vintage.
Domaine des Dorices
89 points. This cuv?e smells of lime fruit and chalk, with hints of honey and smoke. With a satisfyingly refreshing palate, the wine finishes with a lip-smacking concentration of lime, salt, and, of course, chalk. $11
Domaine de la P?pi?re
89 points. From soils of granite origin, this Muscadet smells of fresh apple and almond with subtle floral overtones. Surprisingly silken in texture but fresh and lively on the palate, it shows impressive apple, nut oil, and faintly bitter fruit-skin flavors. $11
Domaine de la Quilla
89 points. Since the 1980s, Quilla has been sending high-quality Muscadet to the U.S., and the 2005 is no exception. Notes of cress and cherry pit are in the aroma, and juicy lime and cherry fruit fill the mouth. At 13% alcohol, this is a fuller-bodied Muscadet than most. $11
Domaine de Beauregard
87 points. With subtle melon, peach, and chalk dust aromas, this wine is surprisingly lush in the mouth. A juicy finish brings along a pleasant hint of bitterness. $11
88 points. On the nose, you sense raw almonds and fresh lemons. On the palate, the wine is bright and juicy. Subtle notes of mineral, citrus, and nuts lead to a finish of considerable refinement and nuance. $13
Ch?reau-Carr? Ch?teau de Chesnaie
90 points. This wine smells fetchingly of peaches and green apple with herbs and flowers. In the mouth, a chalky character suggests minerals. The overall effect is invigorating and refreshing??o much so that if you don't find yourself going back for the next sip, somebody should check your pulse. $13
Domaine de l'Ecu Expression de Granite
90 points. This offering is scented with fresh lime, fennel, tangerine zest, and flowers. It finishes with fascinating hints of iodine, oyster shell, and citrus zest, yet always with juicy refreshment. $16
Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.
Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit www.eRobertParker.com to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.