Domaine Landron

In Muscadet We Trust: Terroir-driven Muscadets from a Biodynamic Pioneer

Much like the man himself, the engaging Muscadets of Jo Landron brim with life and personality. These finely etched, soil-specific wines represent the antithesis of the bland, neutral, overcropped produce that has sadly become the regional norm. Jo Landron, who the paysan tradition from his father, took control of the family Domaine in 1990. His philosophy—driven by the conviction that the essence of great Muscadet is expressed through the minerality of its terroir—has raised the regional bar so high that until recently only the granite-infused bottlings from the great Guy Bossard rival these Muscadets for the sheer intensity of flavour and distinctive, electric energy.

These are finely etched, soil-specific wines; “every soil has its own potential and identity,” says Landron, a logic that is brilliantly reflected in every wine he bottles.

The unique expression of Landron’s cuvées is the result of the diversity of soil types that are found within his vineyards. They are finely etched, soil-specific wines; “every soil has its own potential and identity,” says Landron, a logic that is brilliantly reflected in the wines he bottles. All the vineyards are farmed organically using biodynamic practices. Vines are planted densely (8,000 per acre) to naturally control yields, which are kept to a maximum of 8 bunches per vine, even lower in some cases. Yields stay between 40 and 45 hl/ha – incredibly low by Muscadet standards - and naturally, no herbicides or pesticides are used. Manual ploughing and hand harvesting are followed by a direct, soft pneumatic, pressing of whole clusters. Only indigenous yeasts are used, and after a cool fermentation lasting 15-20 days, the wines are aged in glass-lined temperature-controlled cement vats, before extended lees aging, which helps to give these Muscadets their trademark texture and complexity. At this point, the wines are bottled using gravity flow. This traditional, minimalist approach preserves the natural freshness and minerality that is a trademark of the very best wines of this genre.

Like the Muscadet of now retired (fellow visionary) Guy Bossard, you’ll notice how much more amplitude and texture—not to mention minerality and softer acidity—these Muscadets possess. These are wines of Riesling-like freshness and clarity yet with the mineral drive of a great Chablis. Landron has been certified organic for 20 years and biodynamic for 13. Everything is done by hand, from shoot-thinning to pruning to hand-harvesting—even for the introductory wines. “Minerality is not free,” exclaims Landron, “you have to work for it!”. And mineral intensity is one thing that Landron’s wines have in abundance. These terroir-driven Muscadets represent some of the finest white values from Europe today.

The Range

Jo Landron Brut Atmosphères NV
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Jo Landron Brut Atmosphères NV

This Loire bubbles has been enjoying plenty of love among those who know the wine, and no wonder. It’s a hand-harvested, estate-grown, biodynamic, naturally fermented, low-dosage fizz that shows up many conventional Champagnes for both quality and value. Topping off an impressive package is the marvellous label designed by legendary French illustrator, Michel Tolmer (of Mimi, Fifi and Glouglou fame).Jo Landron is not a fan of using Muscadet’s Melon de Bourgogne for sparkling wine, preferring instead a blend of around 75% Folle Blanche (grown on sandy clay), with a balance of Pinot Noir (grown on gravelly soils). Vine age varies between 18 and 30 years. The yields are typically between 50 and 60 hl/ha—far lower than the average yields in Champagne. The base wines are fermented naturally and then go through a traditional second fermentation in bottle, where they remain for a minimum of 24 months. The dosage ranges from zero to a low five grams per litre (depending on the bottling). Moreover, the fruit for this cuvée is always from a single vintage.This list of attributes sounds like the winegrowing and making approach of a top grower in Champagne, not a humble Muscadet producer! It's no surprise then that the result is a wine of impressive depth and complexity. Expect a super-mineral, earthy, rocky wine with waves of racy citrus and fresh nectarine fruit and lots of flinty, talc-like, salty complexity, then a delicious lick of smoky Pinot breadiness to close. This is simply one of the finest sparkling bargains going around.

This list of attributes sounds like the winegrowing and making approach of a top grower in Champagne, not a humble Muscadet producer! It's no surprise then that the result is a wine of impressive depth and complexity. Expect a super-mineral, earthy, rocky wine with waves of racy citrus and fresh nectarine fruit and lots of flinty, talc-like, salty complexity, then a delicious lick of smoky Pinot breadiness to close. This is simply one of the finest sparkling bargains going around.

Jo Landron Brut Atmosphères NV
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Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine La Louvetrie 2021
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Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine La Louvetrie 2021

Biodynamic. Jo Landron’s La Louvetrie cuvée originates from soils rich in amphibolite, sand, clay and gneiss. It remains the estate’s only wine made from a blend of different sites (and includes younger-vine fruit from Landron’s top vineyards). The vines for this release are 15-30 years old and cropped low (for Muscadet) at just 50hl/ha. It was bottled with a low dose of sulphur after maturing for between eight and 12 months.It is a blinder of a wine, packed full of juicy fruit and vibrant Atlantic zing. The new vintage is not dissimilar to last year’s stunner, with generous, zesty, pithy, lemon/lime fruit alongside a ton of salinity. It glides with fantastic vibrancy across the palate, with oodles of compact fruit balanced by a mouth-watering stony/savoury element and a cool finish that crackles with freshness and length. The value on offer here is off the charts.

Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine La Louvetrie 2021
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Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Le Clos La Carizière 2020
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Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Le Clos La Carizière 2020

Biodynamic. The Château de la Carizière in La Haye-Fouassière dates to 1926. Jo Landron took over the estate’s vines in 1998, and immediately began converting the vineyard to organics. The vineyard covers 10 hectares of vines on an orthogneiss terroir, planted with vines aged between 55 and 70 years old. This wine, Le Clos La Carizière, is drawn from four hectares, where the yields are strictly curbed as low as 38 ha/hectare. Harvested by hand and fermented with wild yeasts, the wine aged on its lees for 10 months before bottling. A model of finesse and lightness, it’s a fantastically vibrant and pulpy Muscadet, with beautifully crisp, stony finish.

Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Le Clos La Carizière 2020
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Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Les Houx 2020
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Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Les Houx 2020

Biodynamic. Les Houx, in La Haye-Fouassière, is one of Landron’s oldest vineyards. The mature, low-yielding vines are rooted in shallow sandy/clay soils, rich in quartz and shot through with iron (which gives the wine a flinty nature), over a bedrock of gneiss and clay. It's brilliant terroir that gives a denser, fleshier, more complex style of Muscadet. Harvested by hand and fermented with wild yeasts, the wine aged on its lees for 12-14 months before bottling. Although more opulent and layered than Landron’s other wines, the rocky, acid soils of this parcel impart a balancing freshness, even in warmer years. Its dense, structured, and lingering palate delivers textural stone fruits interwoven with the smoky mineral signature of these sandstone soils. It’s a dynamic Muscadet that goes far beyond the “drink with oysters” cliché, so match it with substantial fish or white meat dishes that call for something savoury and mineral.

Although more opulent and layered than Landron’s other wines, the rocky, acid soils of this parcel impart a balancing freshness, even in warmer years. Its dense, structured, and lingering palate delivers textural stone fruits interwoven with the smoky mineral signature of these sandstone soils. It’s a dynamic Muscadet that goes far beyond the “drink with oysters” cliché, so match it with substantial fish or white meat dishes that call for something savoury and mineral.

Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Les Houx 2020
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Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Le Fief du Breil 2017
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Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Le Fief du Breil 2017

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. Hand-harvested, the juice 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. Posesses the sort of multi-layered complexity that is about as far removed from the regional stereotype as can be imagined.

Posesses the sort of multi-layered complexity that is about as far removed from the regional stereotype as can be imagined.

“Jo’s top cuvée, a cru prototype, is sourced from vines aged more than 30 years, planted in soils of orthogneiss and quartz. This was vinified in cement cuve, followed by 36 months on the lees. The nose is just beautiful, elegantly polished, with notes of blanched almond, fragrant vanilla and dried citrus fruits. A super style on the palate, tense but also dense, polished, a little sinewy even, which I like, always with that bitter grip. A delightful style freshened with nuances of iodine and apple skin, this is excellent, and is clearly set to go the distance in the cellar.”
95 points, Chris Kissack, The Wine Doctor
Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Le Fief du Breil 2017
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Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Amphibolite 2021
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Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Amphibolite 2021

Biodynamic. This cuvée derives its name from the greenish, metamorphic bedrock (amphibolite) that dominates the soils in which it is grown. Produced from vines aged between 35 and 40 years, this unique wine was vinified with only a short period on lees, as Jo Landron wanted to retain as much freshness and minerality as possible. Only minor doses of sulphur were used to block malo. Bottling occurred early (in March), and without filtration, to retain the earth-to-glass essence of the wine. With some lovely textural padding this year it's an ultra-pure, racy expression of Muscadet loaded with white floral notes and all kinds of citrus underpinned by the iodine minerality that is a hallmark of this cuvée.

With some lovely textural padding this year it's an ultra-pure, racy expression of Muscadet loaded with white floral notes and all kinds of citrus underpinned by the iodine minerality that is a hallmark of this cuvée.

Jo Landron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Amphibolite 2021
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“While some Muscadet vignerons seem to be shifting their focus to new wines from unusual varieties with funky labels and wax capsules, others such as Jo Landron just keep on doing what they do best, which as it happens is turning out some of the most vibrant, textured, punchy examples of Muscadet that exist.” Chris Kissack, winedoctor.com

“The wines of Jo Landron are now the reference in the – too small – genre of terroir driven Muscadet.” La Revue du Vin de France

“Jo Landron has so tirelessly served as an international ambassador for his appellation that his memorable mustache and Muscadets have become regional icons… if you walk away uninspired from a conversation with this man, then viticulture just doesn’t move you.” David Schildknecht

Country

France

Primary Region

Nantais, Loire Valley

People

Winemaker: Jo Landron

Availability

National

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