Muscadelle is a green grape from France, and it is not – in spite of its name – linked to any Muscat variety. The grape is also known as Melon de Bourgogne.
This is a vigorous variety, so it is better submitted to green harvest if you want to have quality grapes.
It is also sensitive to several diseases, in particular if planted so it has problems in getting rid of the humidity in the bunches.
Flavours are similar to the ones of Muscat grapes, e.g. they range from citrus and lemon curd, to melons, honey and apricots together with some spiciness and saffron. The similarity is also the reason to why it has been mistakenly thought to be related to them.
Muscadelle is probably best known for being used in several appellations in the Bordeaux region, as well as within other sub-regions in France’s south-west. It is however very difficult to find it as a varietal, as it commonly is blended with Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc for dry as well as for sweet, white wines.
In Monbazillac, (close to Bergerac, just east of the Bordeaux region), you find the same grapes used for blending as in Bordeaux. However, only those affected by Botrytis Cinera (a k a “Noble rot”) are bottled as AOC Monbazillac.
In Australia’s Rutherglen sub-district, Muscadelle is used to produce a rich and very sweet fortified wine. Flavours are of honey and molasses. When barrel aged, it will develop flavours of caramel and butterscotch. These wines can age well for many years. There are producers that prefer to store them in warm temperatures, resulting in maderised and oxidative wines.
A dry white blend from Bordeaux will pair excellently with fish and shellfish dishes. The wine is best served at 8-10°C/46-50°F.
A sweet blend from south-western France is absolutely wonderful with a citrus based dessert. The wine is best served at 12-14°C/54-57°F.
For a fortified wine, a good pairing will be a fruit based dessert. The wine is best served at 12-14°C/54-57°F.
Where is it grown?
Muscadelle has its heartland in the south-western parts of France. With the plantings of Bordeaux (874 ha/2,160 ac), Dordogne (429 ha/1,060 ac) and Tarn (233 ha/576 ac), you have basically covered all of France’s acreage of 1.566 ha/3,869 ac. The grape is ranked as the forty-seventh most planted grape in the country. There’s has been a decrease of twenty-two percent between 2000 and 2010, above all in Bordeaux.
In Australia, there are 67 ha/166 ac. The majority of these are found itn Victoria’s sub-districts Rutherglen and Swan District. There’s been a decrease for the variety between 2000 and 2010 also in Australia, where two thirds of its planted area have been lost.
There is also a small acreage of 4 ha/11 ac in Romania, which was not reported in 2000.
Muscadelle is a variety that is recognised as having originated from the south-western parts of France, e.g. where it still has its heartland. In spite of the name, it is not linked to any Muscat variety. Instead it is a crossing between Heunicsh Weiss (also known as Gouais Blanc) and another, not yet defined variety. The crossing is thought to have taken place about at least three to four hundred years ago.