Muscat works the gamut of wine styles

Geographers, and those with an interest in the Arab world, will recognise Muscat as the capital of Oman.

However, for winelovers Muscat is an aromatic white grape variety grown widely across Europe (and around the world), responsible for a raft of different wine styles.

There are a number of Muscat variants, the most highly regarded being Muscat Blanc a Petit Grains, a small-berried version, and parent to many of the others.

This is known by a staggering number of synonyms, with the Frontignac of Australia, the various Moscatels of Spain, the Moscato and Zibibbo of Italy, the Moschato variants of Greece and many, many others all being Muscat Blanc a Petit Grains.

In trying to describe this grape, I have to use the term ''grapey'' as it really is like biting into the ripest, juiciest grapes you'll ever come across.

Distinctively floral and frequently spicy, it works across the gamut of wine styles, though is commonly found with a degree of residual sugar.

Some of the most distinctive examples are lusciously sweet: many are made using the ''passito'' method, where the grapes are sundried first to dehydrate them, creating lusciously viscous elixirs, while the ''vin doux naturel'' styles of France are fortified wines, the addition of spirit arresting fermentation and retaining the majority of the natural grape sugars.

 

2017 Millton Sparkling Muskats @ Dawn
Price:
$22 (cellar door)
Rating: Excellent

Made in a bubbly, Moscato d’Asti style. Attractive flashes of grape musk and blossom on the nose. A persistent prickle on the tongue, highlighting tropical fruits, dried pineapple and grape jelly, remaining fresh and nicely balanced with a tasty, tangy edge to it.

Joyfully vibrant and playful, there’s fruit sweetness yet not overtly done, in this effervescent low-alcohol wine.

www.millton.co.nz

 

 

2016 Millton Te Arai Vineyard Muskats @ Dawn
Price:
$19 (cellar door)
Rating: Very good to excellent

Fascinating nose of rose petal, turkish delight, musk/wet wool and an almost bittersweet note: a little wild funkiness with time. Rosewater, turkish delight and classic Muscat grapeyness flow across the soft and relatively sweet palate that adds an Earl Grey tea/bergamot note as a foil to the fruit sweetness. 

I’d love a whisper more acidity, but this is still delightful.

www.millton.co.nz

 

2016 Pegasus Bay Fortissimo Muscat
Price: $40 (375ml)
Rating: Excellent to outstanding

The first release for Pegasus Bay of a Beames de Venise styled fortified Muscat. Immediate impressions of creaminess and richness, with lychee and wine gums. Rich, textural, powerful flavours of musk, quince, honey, lychee, beeswax and orange zest; a savoury note coursing through the wine offers a beguiling counterpoint.

Simply delicious.

www.pegasusbay.com

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