Muscadet is a very interesting situation. Muscadet is a region of France, located in the northeast area of France along the Loire Valley. Nantes is a city in this region that you can use as a reference point. France, as you might recall, is a country which tends to name its wines after the place they come from, and not by the grape at all. In fact many grapes in France were generally "unnamed" until recently and wine drinkers didn't care what they were called. They only cared that a wine came from "Champagne" and made with whatever grapes they used there. They would order a bottle of a wine called "Bordeaux" without worrying about what specific grapes were in the bottle.
So, back to the region we are discussing. The Muscadet region of France is near the mouth of the Loire river. While in the 1600s this specific area was known for its red wines, cold winters killed those vines in the early 1700s and it was replanted with Melon de Bourgogne, a hardy white variety. So, to clarify, the name of the grape is NOT Muscadet. There is no such thing as a "Muscadet grape". The name of the grape is Melon de Bourgogne
. It is this Melon de Bourgogne that the French, in this specific region of France, used to create a wine which was then known as a Muscadet wine. The name is given because of the region the grape is grown in.
The best known area of this region, producing 80% of the wine, is Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine. This is named for two rivers in the area. The two other regions are Muscadet des Coteaux de la Loire, and the basic Muscadet.
Muscadet wine is unusual in that the grape (again, Melon de Bourgogne) is so flavorless that many producers let the wine sit on the lees all winter, hoping to absorb some extra flavor. This also gives the wine a bit of carbonization and life. Muscadet wine is very light, a bit tangy, and a small bit sparkly. It goes well with seafood and often has a light, green apple flavor. It should be served at 52F.
Note that Muscadet wine is quite separate from Muscat
wine. Muscat wine is made from the Muscat grape. Muscadet wine is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape.
Part of what can make this confusing is - what happens when someone takes a melon de bourgogne grape to another location - for example Washington State - and makes a wine out of it? They cannot call it "Muscadet" - because it's not a wine from the Muscadet region of France! They call it "melon de bourgogne" - because that is what the grape is.
It's similar to the situation between Chablis and Chardonnay. There is no such thing as a "Chablis grape". Chablis is a region of France, where they grow Chardonnay grapes. If you order a Chablis, you are getting a Chardonnay wine from the Chablis region. So if you take that chardonnay grape to South Africa, the wine you make there shouldn't be called a Chablis. It should be called a Chardonnay, or you could name it after the South Africa region where it is now growing.
All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.