Melon is a green grape from France, more commonly known there as Muscadet, while Melon is the name used in USA.
Melon is a low aromatic grape, meaning that it comes with naturally low levels of flavour. The neutral flavours go in the direction of apple, citrus accompanied by a touch of minerality.
However, its neutral flavours are compensated by naturally high levels of acidity, making it an interesting variety for wine makers in a maritime region such as western Loire.
The combination of low aroma levels and high acidity potentially points at being a good blending partner. This is however not so common. Loire winemakers instead work with Sur lie fermentation as well as submitting the wine to oak maturation, as a way of allowing the wine to express more of its flavours.
The Melon (Muscadet) wines of western Loire are excellent companions to clams and oysters, as well as to various fish dishes.
The high acidity levels will also pair well with hard cheese that is a bit salty, such as the Italian Pecorino. The wine is best served at 8-10°C/46-50°F.
Where is it grown?
Melon’s planted area in France mounts to 12.305 ha/30,406 ac, ranking it as the thirteen most planted variety in the country. Plantings are almost exclusively in the Loire region, with some very small plantings reported also from Bourgogne. The grape has decreased with seven percent between 2000 and 2010.
Outside of France, there is a very small planting reported from Argentina of what seems to be on an experimental level.
Melon is an old variety from the Bourgogne region in France – hence synonyms such as Melon de Bourgogne and Plant de Bourgogne. Some three-hundred years ago it was, together with Gamay, forbidden in the region to make room for varieties thought to be of higher quality.
This resulted in Gamay moving south to Beaujolais, while Melon was taken to the Loire Valley, where it found a new home and heartland in the region’s western part, e.g. the area south as well as east of the city of Nantes, at the Atlantic coast. In Loire, it is known as Muscadet, which today is also the name of the Loire sub region where most of its plantings are found.