Domaine de la Pigeade Southern Rhône, France.
“The benchmark name for Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise” John Livingstone-Learmonth – drinkrhone.com
Very little sweet Muscat was made before 1945 when Muscat de Beaumes de Venise was classified an AOC for its vin doux naturel, but by the 1970s and 1980s its popularity in northern Europe was probably greater than Sauternes or sweet German wines. The wines, by law, must have an ABV of 15% and at least 110g/L residual sugar.Domaine de la Pigeade was purchased by the Vaute family in 1960 who came from wine families but this domaine was the first generation of winemakers. Up until 1996 all fruit from the 25ha estate was sent to the cooperative but with the succession of the second generation, Thierry and his wife Marina, a cellar was built and the winemaking was brought in house.
The domaine sits outside the village of Beaumes, which is sandwiched in between the Dantelles de Montmirail and Mount Ventoux. Of the 25ha around 20 are Muscat blanc à petits grains averaging 35 years of age. The vines are planted on a argilo-calcaire and all weed control is manual. The fruit is harvested at a very low 30hl/ha.
2011 Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise (Vin Doux Naturel) 750ml + 375ml
“pale robe; soft nose, really pure pear aroma, no false friends with this, it comes in a very primary state. The palate delivers an abundant pear-fruited flavour, builds well and has herb- linden (tilleul), verbena infusion elements. There is a slightly sticky note late on, gains in depth and expression, power. Definite vin de sud. The palate gets going on its richness, does not hesitate. Big, flourishing wine with late heat. Has a sweetness and fat in it. 15°. 2021-23” John Livingstone-Learmonth – Drinkrhone.com Dec 2011
The fruit is fully hand harvested and sorted before 100% destemming with maceration on skins for 10 hours at 3°C before pressing. The wine is then fermented at low temperatures before the addition of grape spirit for a light fortification bringing the must to exactly 15%, retaining natural grape sugars which are kept as close to the lowest limit of 110 g/litre of sugar. The wine is then racked off and stabilized before being left on fine lees for a further 2 months prior to bottling.
The Muscat from La Pigeade is characterized by its freshness and finesse and is to be found in many of the leading restaurants of the Rhone Valley. It is an ideal aperitif and also goes well with many desserts, especially ones with chocolate, or a fruit salad, or strawberries where some is also poured over the fruit. It is also a perfect companion for many blue cheeses.