Chateau d'Exindre Muscat de Mireval Vent d'Anges 2006
An extensive appellation producing a diverse selection of good-quality and value-priced wines, Languedoc-Roussillon is one of the world’s largest wine-producing region, spanning the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish border to Rhône. Languedoc forms the eastern half of the larger appellation, while Roussillon is in the west; the two actually have quite distinct personalities but are typically grouped together. Languedoc’s terrain is generally flat coastal plains, with a warm Mediterranean climate and a frequent risk of drought. Roussillon, on the other hand, is defined by the rugged Pyrenees mountains and near-constant sunshine.
Virtually every style of wine is made in this expansive region. Dry wines are often blends, and varietal choice is strongly influenced by the neighboring Rhône Valley. For reds and rosés, the primary grapes include Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. White varieties include Grenache Blanc, Muscat, Ugni Blanc, Vermentino, Maccabéo, Clairette, Piquepoul and Bourbelenc.
International varieties are also planted in large numbers here, in particular Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In Roussillon, excellent sweet wines are made from Muscat and Grenache in Rivesaltes, Banyuls and Maury. The key region for sparkling wines here is Limoux, where Blanquette de Limoux is believed to have been the first sparkling wine made in France, even before Champagne. Crémant de Limoux is produced in a more modern style.
Alluringly aromatic and delightful, Muscat never takes itself too seriously. Muscat is actually an umbrella name for a diverse set of grapes, some of which are genetically related and some of which, are not. The two most important versions are the noble, Muscat blanc à Petits Grains, and Muscat of Alexandria, thought to be a progeny of the former. Both are grown throughout the world and can be made in a wide range of styles from dry to sweet, still to sparkling and even fortified. Muscat is well-known in Italy's Piedmont region (where it goes by Moscato) mainly as Moscato d’Asti, a slightly sparkling, semi-sweet, refreshing wine low in alcohol. On the Iberian peninsula, it goes by Moscatel, not to be confused with Bordeaux's Muscadelle, which is acutally unrelated.
Tasting Notes for Muscat
Muscat makes a dry, sweet or sparkling white wine. Regardless, Muscat wines always possess marked aromatics of rose petal, jasmine, honeysuckle or orange blosson. These wines can have flavors of peach, pear, Meyer lemon, orange and lychee, often with a hint of sweet spice.
Perfect Food Pairings for Muscat
Muscat is a perfect match for Asian cuisine and other spicy foods. Off-dry Muscat can work well with lighter desserts like key lime pie and lemon meringue, while fully sweet Muscat-based dessert wines are enjoyable after dinner with an assortment of cheeses.
Sommelier Secrets for Muscat
Muscat is one of the oldest known grape varieties, dating as far back as the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Pliny the Elder wrote in the 13th century of a sweet, perfumed grape variety so attractive to bees that he referred to it as uva apiana, or “grape of the bees.” Most likely, he was describing one of the Muscat varieties.