Last year Muscat, also known as Moscato, overtook Sauvignon Blanc in terms of value and volume sold in the United States. Now the race is on to meet the demand that is expected in the years ahead. But for the relatively unspectacular grape variety that Muscat is, how has it managed to nudge aside one of the world’s heavyweight whites?
The secret to Muscat’s success has been largely due to its low cost production. It typically produces more than 20 tons per acre, a necessary yield to produce wines that can sell for less than $5 per bottle (cheap as chips!). Compare that yield per acre to that of Glaetzer’s Amon Ra, which will pull around 0.5 ton per acre. This is just to give a little perspective between cheap wine and fine wine.
Even at that, the final product can be remarkably inoffensive. A lot of people describe Muscat as floral and ‘grapey’. Could think of worse things. Its quaffability factor is aided by the low level of alcohol, often between 7% and 9% ABV (I think I’ve seen Australian Moscato Frizzante before at 6%), and many of them are off-dry or sweet in style with a slight effervescence, or fizz.
So is the Muscat wave going to hit us in the same way it has the United States? Will it knock Sauvignon Blanc of its perch, just like Sauvignon Blanc did with Chardonnay? Big producers like Gallo and Yellow Tail will be getting fully behind their own attempts this spring. We’ve got an Italian Frizzante Moscato coming into stock this weekend (pictured) and we’ll see how that goes before thinking about it any further.
I would be surprised if it could overtake Sauvignon Blanc as easily as it did in the US, but then look how Sauvignon buried Chardonnay in a relatively short time. It’s interesting to note that Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio are first and second respectively in America. Watch this space, Ireland.