Le Fief du Breil comes from a single, six-hectare biodynamically farmed vineyard, situated on a south-facing slope above the Sèvre river in La Haye-Fouassière. Fief is a term from the Middle Ages which means a piece of land once associated with (and probably owned by) the local Abbey or Duke. This in turn infers quality, as the local rulers tended to keep the best parcels for themselves. Breil means ‘next to the forest’, indicating the woodland this parcel borders. The vines are also surrounded by old walls, another sign of its historical significance.
The soils here are rich in silex (flint), river pebbles, quartz and granite, all laid over a bedrock of orthogneiss—a geologically complex site. While Muscadet is generally flat, Jo notes that this vineyard is on “a hill by local standards”. The vines are also open directly to the south, an ideal exposure to produce one of the region’s benchmarks. The vines here are 45 years old; Landron prunes very short, and also shoot-thins to restrict yields.
While 2016 was an annus horribilis in terms of yields (Le Fief du Breil was cropped at a miserly 14 hl/ha) the resulting wine is out of this world. Hand-harvested, of course, the wine was slowly and naturally fermented before being raised in Landron’s large, subterranean cement tanks. This bottling has spent a full 30 months on its lees, resulting in the sort of multi-layered complexity that is about as far removed from the regional stereotype as can be imagined.
Described by one French critic as an archetype of great Muscadet, Landron’s 2016 is a marriage of earthy, mineral punch matched with fleshy texture and the crunch of stringent acidity. The wine unfurls in layers of sharply focussed crushed stone, smoky citrus and hazelnut complexity, intertwined with the undertone of peat smoke that we often see in this cuvée. It finishes long and bright with what Landron describes as a pleasing amertume (or bitterness), although we would perhaps describe this as grip. This is something special that Loire lovers should not miss. Importer’s Notes