Melon de Bourgogne

Melon de Bourgogne, or simply Melon, is a white grape from the Loire Valley famous for one thing: Muscadet. As its name indicates, its origin was Burgundy (although it was outlawed there in the 16th century), but it had by then travelled as far as Anjou and then west into Muscadet. It is thought that Melon was initially planted in Muscadet by Dutch traders who wanted to use it to make brandewijn. It was the dominant grape variety in the Atlantic area of the Loire by the 17th century, and its resistance to cold helped it survive an extremely frozen winter in 1709, which killed off most local red grape varieties. King Louis XIV is said to have ordered all post-freeze plantings to be with Muscadent Blanc, thought to be another name for Melon de Bourgogne. There were around 13,000 hectares of Melon de Bourgogne by 2000.

Muscadet is always produced as a varietal wine, and has more recently seen a resurgence following an increased take-up of techniques such as extended lees contact and maceration. The best Muscadets today are crisp and slightly salty, and pair excellently with shellfish, especially oysters.

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