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The Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains Grape


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About Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains

(Synonyms: Bela Dinka, Beli Muskat, Beyaz Misket, Bornova Misketi, Brown Muscat, Franczier Veros Muscatel, Frontignac, Gelber Muskateller, Moscatel Branco, Moscatel Castellano, Moscatel Commun, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Moscatel de Grano Pequeno, Moscatel do Douro, Moscatel Fino, Moscatel Galego Branco, Moscatel Morisco, Moscatello Blanco, Moscatello Bianco di Basilicata, Moscatello di Saracena, Moscatello di Taggia, Moscato Bianco, Moscato di Chambave, Moscato d’Asti, Moscato dei Colli Euganel, Moscato di Momiano,Moscato di Montalcino, Moscato di Tempio, Moscato di Trani, Moscato Reale, Moschato Aspro, Moschato Kerkyas, Moschato Lefko, Moschato Mazas, Moschato Samou, Moschato Spinas, Moschato Trani, Moschoudi, Moschoudi Proïmo, Moscovitza, Muscat à Petits Grains Blanc, Muscat Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Muscat d’Alsace, Muscat de Die, Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat Frontignan, Muscat de Lunel, Muscat de Valais, Muscat Sámos, Muskadel, Muskateller, Muskati, Piros Muskátoly, Rumeni Muškat, Sárga Muskotály, Tămâloasă Alba, Tămâloasă Româescă, Tamjanika, Tamnjanika, Tamyanka, Temjanika, Weisse Muskatraube, Weisser Muskateller, White Frontignan)

Background

Map of Europe showing Greece

The story of Muscat is complicated, chiefly because the ancestral grape is ancient—it was in common use by the Greeks (as Anathelicon moschaton and the Romans (as Uva Apiane), and has had numerous travels since. Actually, even that is a gross over-simplification, because it refers to the particular Muscat grape we are considering here, the Muscat Blanc (or, more fully, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, aka Moscato Bianco, Muscat Canelli, and a lot more—look at the list a bit up-page); the Muscat family of grapes comprises many more types (over 200!) with which we will not deal here. As best anyone knows, their origins lie in Greece. It should be noted here that Muscat Blanc is today widely considered one of the dozen and a half or so “Noble wine grapes” of the world.

As the name implies, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains is used to make white wines (as are most but by no means all Muscat grapes). The Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains grape is pretty much universally considered to be not merely the easy champion of the entire Muscat family, but one of the dozen and a half or so of world-class white-wine grapes.

Traditionally, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains (like all the Muscats) has been used to make dessert wines, and as with several other grape types (Semillon, Petit Menseng, Malvasia, Corvina, and more), it is the eminence of those sweet wines that tends to include the grape types in “world’s greatest” lists. Nonetheless, also as with all those others, when vinified dry with some respect, it makes excellent table wines (and it is those that we deal with here—we do not deal with dessert wines).

Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains is now grown in many locations, from its home in Greece (where dry examples are rare) to Italy, France, South Africa, Portugal, the U.S., and Australia, where it is usually called “Brown Muscat”, or sometimes “Frontignan”. (By law, American-made Muscat Blancs can only be labelled “Muscat Blanc” or “Muscat Canelli”.) But the primary sources of dry Muscats are Alsace and the northern reaches of Italy (Trentino-Alto Adige).

(Actually, we have over-simplified a bit: there is a mutation of Muscat Blanc with light-red grapes known as “Moscato Rosa”—and, as always, a few other names; it is that variant that the Australians refer to with the name “Brown Muscat”.)

As you will see below, descriptions of the wine tend to be brief and repetitious: grape-y, with overtones of orange plus the usual roster of floral/spice suspects. And, in truth, it’s hard to augment that much. The essence of dry Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains (as with dry Malvasia) is to retain the floral and fruity/spicy quality (especially in the nose), with a good acid balance; poorly made ones are either not all that “dry”, or else have lost sublety. Good ones are (again, as with Malvasias) truly remarkable.

Factoid: Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains is said to be almost the only grape whose wine actually smells and tastes like grapes.

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Some Descriptions of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains Wines

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Some Muscat Blancs to Try

(About this list.)

Finding presentable dry specimens of this wine will make one feel like one is attempting to practice dentistry on chickens. If the wine is actually called “dry”, there’s still a fair chance that when you read the fine print (or the reviews), it will turn out to be “off dry” or “only semi-sweet”: yuk. Or it will be low-rated by reviewers. Or it will be unavailable in this country. Or it will be well over our price limit. Or it will be so scarce that only one or two retailers carry it. Or it will turn out to actually be some other muscat-family grape. And so on.

(When looking for Muscat à Petits Grains wines, be aware that “Moscato d’Asti” wines, which dominate searches for such wines, are all quite sweet dessert wines, and also that most or all plain “Asti” Moscatos are sparkling wines.)

As you will see, we had to hunt to find even a few to list. Indeed, we have included one noted Alsace winemaker’s Muscat even though it is mainly Muscat Ottonel, because it gets good reviews and is typical of better-grade Alsace “Muscat” wines.


Juan Gil Moscatel Seco
(Though some sources refer to this as being from Muscat of Alexandria, others—most notably the winery itself—say it is 100% Muscat à Petits Grains.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Gonc Yellow Muscat
(“Yellow Muscat” is a synonym for Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Trimbach “Reserve” Muscat
(90% Muscat Ottonel, 10% Muscat d’Alsace = Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

Our nomination is the Zind-Humbrecht “Goldert” Alsace Grand Cru Muscat. (Don’t confuse this with their sweet “Vendange Tardive” bottling.) It seems, from the maker’s web site, that this bottling is about 90% Muscat à Petit Grains and 10% Muscat Ottonel, another Muscat type widely used in Alsace.

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.