To celebrate National Moscato Day 2022, we’ve put together 15 facts about Muscat, the French name for the varietal more commonly known by its Italian name, moscato.
- Not just one variety
Muscat grapes come in over 200 different varieties! Not all of these are used in the production of wine. The key muscats varieties used in wine production are: Muscat blanc à Petits Grains, Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat of Scanzorosciate, Muscat of Hamburg and Muscat Ottonel.
- The name Muscat
There are several theories about where the name muscat come from:
• The most commonly cited belief is the name is derived from the Persian word muchk.
This is supported by similar etymology for the Greek moskos, Latin muscus and French musc.
• The Italian word mosca meaning fly is a possibility as fruit flies are commonly attracted to the sweet aroma and high sugar levels of the grapes
• It may have been named after the city of Muscat on the Gulf of Oman.
• Similarly, it may have been named after the Greek city of Moschato, located southwest of Athens in Attica with Moschato being a common synonym in Greece for Muscat varieties.
- Other names
Muscat blanc à Petits Grains is known by many names worldwide:
- Muscat de Frontignan and Muscat Lunel in France.
- Muscat Blanc in France and also the United States,
- Muscat Canelli in the United States,
- Moscato Bianco (white Moscato) in Italy,
- Muscat Frontignan in South Africa,
- Moschato in Greece,
- Brown Muscat in Australia,
- Muskateller in Germany and Austria,
- Muscat de Grano Menudo in Spain.
- Origins of Moscato
The family of Muscat were likely propagated during the period of classic antiquity (circa 800BC to 600AD) by the Greeks and Romans according to ampelographer Pierre Galet.However, ancient pots found in Greece found traces of an alcoholic drink made with Muscat grapes. Archaeological analysis found them to be over 3000 years old.
- All the hues
With 200 + varieties of Muscat grapes, it’s not surprising that they range from white to pink to yellow to black.
- Muscat wines
While there are differences between the different varietals of Muscat grapes and the wines with which they are made, all share the same grapey, musky aromatic trait. Muscat wines are typically quite sweet and lower in alcohol. Aromas of tangerine, mango, lychee, jasmine, and orange blossom are common. Tropical fruit and sweet spiciness are common on the palate.
- Notable French Muscat AOCs
Some of the most reputed French AOCs using Muscat are:• Clairette de Die in Die in the Eastern Rhône is a sparkling White wine made from Muscat
• Muscat d’Alsace, a synonym for Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains, is the oldest Muscat grown in Alsace. It is usually produced as a dry table wine.
• Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise is considered to be the best of the South of France’s several vins doux naturels (fortified sweet wines). It has delicate, lovely aromas and flavours and can reach an alcohol strength of 21%!
• Muscat du Cap Corse is a rare, sweet wine with very intense fruit and flower flavours which is produced on the island of Corsica.
• Muscat de Frontignan, or Vin de Frontignan or Frontignan is considered to be the most important of Languedoc’s four Muscats.
• Muscat de Lunel is also in the Languedoc region. It produces wines with a highly distinguished character while retaining its subtle, delicate bouquet. The silica soil is said to contribute.
• Muscat de Mireval, also from Languedoc is similar to Muscat de Frontignan.
• Muscat de Rivesaltes in the Roussillon region, represents about 70% of France’s total Muscat production. Two types of Muscat are allowed: Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains and Muscat d’Alexandrie.
• Muscat de St-Jean-de-Minervois is said to be one of France’s rarest wines.
- Muscat d’Alexandrie in France
It’s commonly used as a blending component in the vin doux naturel wines of Muscat de Rivesaltes in the Roussillon region. .
- Muscat Ottonel in France
One of the most recent additions to the Muscat family, Muscat Ottonel was bred in the Loire Valley in the 1850s. It has the palest skin colour, ripens earliest and produces the most neutral wines of all the muscat grapes. Apart from being grown in the Loire Valley, Muscat Ottonel is the primary Muscat grown in Alsace where it’s used to produce dry and off-dry wines.
- Around the world
Outside of France, Muscat is grown and made in Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Moldova, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, and the United States.
- Best Muscats of the World competition held annually
The most recent edition, the 21st Muscats du Monde, took place on 7 & 8 September 2021 in Entre Vignes in the Occitane region. That edition saw entries from 19 countries and 182 still and sparkling muscat wines.
- Australia in the top 10 Best Muscats of the World
Victoria’s Morris Wines in Rutherglen has consistently placed in the top 10 with their Old Premium – Rare Muscat
- Not only wine
Muscat grapes aren’t only used to produce wine. They’re also used in the production of some spirits and liqueurs. Pavan is a blue liqueur made with muscat grapes and orange blossoms.Bouilleur Eau de vie Fine de Muscat 5 yrs is an aged spirit made by L’Atelier du Bouilleur, a craft distillery, located in the south of France, which is certified organic and organised as a cooperative. It is made from muscat grapes and has a 45% alcohol/ volume.
- National Moscato Day
The celebration was created by Gallo Family Vineyards in California, USA. National Moscato Day is celebrated on 9th May every year.
- Get social
Share your Muscat with the #NationalMoscatoDay and tag @matildamarseillaise_en on instagram and @matildamarseillaise on Facebook.
Happy National Moscato Day 2022! What’s your favourite Muscat wine?
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