You’ll find Muscat grapes grown all over the world. And you’ll find them used in a myriad of ways. Within one tiny subcategory, there is so much diversity– and so we’re focusing in on one specific variety– the Black Muscat.
To clear up any initial confusion, yes: Black Muscat is a kind of wine and a kind of grape. And this article will focus on both. But, first to the grape…
Black Muscat belongs to this incredible family, and is, itself, quite diverse in its use and associated terminology. You may also hear this grape called Muscat Hamburg or Black Hamburg. Its origins are disputed– but almost certainly European. But it’s a grape with global appeal, both as a winegrape and as a table grape.
In France, this grape is highly regarded. Production is strictly regulated by an appellation d’origine contrôlée– the same regulations that control the production of Champagne and Roquefort. Black Muscat is grown in the region Mont Ventoux, predominantly as table grapes. To be certified, they must be a certain bunch size and weight. For this reason, they’re harvested by hand with scissors.
In the United States, these grapes are at home in California’s warm climate. It makes for a sweet dessert wine that many note has the aroma of roses and lychees. It’s also grown in Oregon and Washington. In New York, the Black Muscat forms part of a cross-bred grape– aptly named the New York Muscat. Here, it’s used to make ice wines– wines made in climates where the grapes are frozen on the vines. Again, these are very sweet wines.
In Australia, you might even find Black Muscat in your local supermarket as table grapes! It’s grown right here in Victoria– crisp, floral, and sweet. But what about for wine? As the wine, Black Muscat is quite scarce in Australia. You might find Black Muscat grapes blended together with Muscat Blanc grapes to make a Pink Moscato.
Muscats – as a wine variety– are one of Australia’s most cherished dessert wines. And for most producers, Black Muscat grapes are not the preference. They tend to lack the flavour of other Muscat varieties– the flavours we are looking for in our wines. So, our Muscat isn’t black in colour, nor is it grown from Black Muscat grapes. It’s an amber fortified wine, made from Muscat à Petits Grains Rouge – otherwise known as Brown Muscat grapes.
So, we may have found a place for Black Muscat grapes in our shopping trolleys, but we haven’t found one in our vineyards. But at St. Anne’s, we are perpetual explorers and if we find a way to produce something exquisite from these berries, you will be the first to know! Sign up to The Vintner to access exclusive offers and up-to-date information on our wines. Including special releases and new additions to our range!