Lieu Dit Melon de Bourgogne 2019
From Bien Nacido in Santa Maria, this is a crisp, mineral-driven wine with captivating brininess. Made for shucking oysters and popping bottles on a fresh spring day.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The wine making team of Justin Willett and Eric Rails back are embracing Melon de Bourgogne, which for years has been mislabeled as Pinot Blanc. This bottling is fantastic, starting with briny, green-allium aromas as well as honeydew. The extremely engaging texture wraps flavors of yellow-grapefruit peel and brisk pear flesh. Editors’ Choice.
After countless bottles shared together and many trips to France, Railsback and Willett decided to found Lieu Dit in 2011 and focus it solely in the varieties indigenous to the Loire Valley, now grown in Santa Barbara County. The varied micro-climates and marine based soils of Santa Barbara County are ideally suited to this set of grapes. Lieu Dit centers on Sauvignon Blanc and more limited bottlings of Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Rose and produces around 2500 cases annually. Each vintage, the quest for purity, elegance, and balance in every wine is paramount.
A lesser-known but elite AVA within the larger Santa Barbara district, the Santa Maria Valley AVA runs precisely west to east starting near the coast. The valley funnels cool, Pacific Ocean air to the vineyards more inland, allowing grapes a longer hang time to ripen evenly and achieve their full potential by harvest time. Combined with minimal rainfall, consistent warm sunshine, and well-drained soils, it is an ideal environment for grape growing.
Many of the wineries here are small and highly respected, having established a reputation in the 1970s and 80s for producing excellent Central Coast wines like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. More recently, Syrah has also proven quite successful in the region. Many vineyards are owned by growers who sell their grapes to other wineries, so it is common to see the same vineyard name on bottlings from different wineries. Bien Nacido Vineyard is perhaps the best-known and most prestigious.
Made famous in Muscadet, a gently rolling, Atlantic-dominated countryside on the eastern edge of the Loire, Melon de Bourgogne is actually the most planted grape variety in the Loire Valley. But the best comes from Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, a subzone of Pays Nantais. Somm Secret—The wine called Muscadet may sound suggestive of “muscat,” but Melon de Bourgogne is not related. Its name also suggests origins in Burgundy, which it has, but was continuously outlawed there, like Gamay, during the 16th and 17th centuries.