Riesling Pinot Gris Gewurztraminer Muscat d'Alsace Pinot Blanc Chasselas Pinot Noir
Alsace druvor

Muscat of Alsace

Two of a kind

In Alsace, Muscat is not one single variety but two. The oldest, and the most noble, is Muscat á petis grains. The other one is Muscat ottonnel, which is of much more recent origin and said to have its origin in Loire. In total, the two Muscats cover a mere 3% of the total vitucultural area.

To add to the confusion, Muscat á petis grains is often called Muscat d´Alsace.

Muscat á petis grains is one of the worlds oldest grapes. It is grown all across the Old World and it uses for raisins, as a dessert fruit and wines of many styles. It is very popular around the Mediterranian Sea where is was well established in the ancient Greek, Roman and Fenician cultures. Today is the basis for the sweet wines of Frontignan and Rivesaltes. Further east, Piedmont offers the seducing Moscato d´Asti.

Not always a green grape

Muscat á petis grains, is not always a green grape. Because it is genetically very unstable it gives birth to mutants. It also leads to wide variation in colour, where the mature grapes may attain every shade between pale yellow and chestnut red. It is not uncommon with a trace of pink in a Muscat wine.

Muscat is sensitive and is a loved diet by insects, birds and – tourists!

Muscat is generally picked first of all grapes for AOC Alsace wines. In 2003, some growers rescued their Muscat by starting the harvest on August 26. If the grapes are perfectly sound with no trace of rot, extra character can be attained by maceration up to 12 hours in the press prior to pressing, as practiced by Hugel in 2004.

In the vineyard, Muscat is recognized on the redish shoots (shown below).

SylvanerIn the of the 19th century, the Muscat Ottonel, probably a crossing between Casselat and some local Muscat from the Loire. It matures before Muscat á petis grains and gives a secure harvest.The drawback of Muscat ottonel is that it has a very short flowering season.

Since Muscat á petis grains give aroma and acidity while Muscat ottonel has the body, most Muscat sold is a mix in the range 1/3-2/3 either way. A brilliant exception is the Muscat Grand Cru Kirchberg from André Kientzler which is 100% Muscat á petis grains.