Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains
The greatest of all the Muscat family of grapes, Muscat blanc is probably the oldest known wine producing grape, being the first in such prestigious areas such as Piedmont, Alsace and indeed France as a whole. Found throughout the Mediterranean and revered for its heavy perfume that attracts bees and flies, possibly explaining the name (Musca is latin for 'flies'). This small berried-varietal ripens early and can be quite versatile producing wines from light and dry, to slightly sweet and sparkling, to heavy, rich and thick with honey, all from various colors of skin that range from golden to pink to dark red. Not to be confused with Muscat Ottonel or Muscat de Alexandrie, which are from the same family but slightly inferior.
The Muscat blanc grows throughout France as many different incarnations (Muscat di Frontignan, Muscat d'Alsace, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise) as well as all over the peninsula of Italy, most notably the Asti area of Piedmont where it is used to produce light and fragrant wines with hints of sweetness and sparkle. It is also famous in Greece as a part of the Muscats of Samos, Cephalonia and Patras, as well as in small amounts in Australia and California.