The originS of Tokaj Yellow Muscat
Although there are more than 200 grape varieties called Muscat, a majority of them aren’t actually related to Sárgamuskotály or the Muscats of Alexandria or Ottonel. When it comes to the ancient origin, popularity and intense smell of a grape, Sárgamuskotály is and always will be the absolute winner.
„Muskotály” is one of the few words in our language. The persian word muchk, or the Greek moschos, Latin muscus, French musc, English musk and the Hungarian mósusz are referring to a material known since ancient times as an aphrodisiac, its main source being the sexual secretions of a hoofed animal called the musk deer, which makes its home in South-East Asia. Since the extreme hunting of the animal from the 1970s, the musk deer are considered a vulnerable species, therefore the material is mostly artifically produced for the perfume industry nowadays. The smell and the rare perfume-like scent of the Muscat types reminded many wine-makers and consumers of an especially valuable perfume. When it comes to Muscat, it was referred to in around 1230, later to be described in French texts. In the sense of Yellow Muscat it was first mentioned in 1304, found in an Italian source of transcripts.
One widespread – but never confirmed – theory suggests that Sárgamuskotály originates from Ancient Greece and made its way to Rome by the way of traders and merchants. The romans later brought it to the mediterranian areas of France, where it grew to be recognised as Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat (de) Lunel. Genetic research proves its relation to Greek varieties, alongside an obvious parent-offsping relation to the Muscat of Alexandria and several other Muscats. The “official” name of the grape in France is “Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains” (small-berried white muscat).
When exposed to the sun, its bulky clusters are made up of small, yellow, then rust-brown colored berries, which take place either loosely or quite close together. Yellow spikes on the edge of its older leaves separate it from other Tokaj varieties. Younger shoots and leaves also emit its familiar scent when rubbed together, making this grape type clearly special.
It’s considered one of the more difficult grapes to grow when it comes to viticulture. It creates multiple, but not as intensively growing shoots. Its hidden offshoots also break out occasionally, becoming a necessity to remove them in order to create a loose foliage. The shoots don’t grow upwards as much as Furmint or Hárslevelű, therefore it becomes vital to keep them as much inbetween the wiring as possible. It’s recommended to use the Guyot-method, one of the more popular cultivation methods of this grape, instead of the other cordon-based cultivation style. The skin of the berries can easily get “scorched” if exposed to a large amount of sunlight, creating slight amounts of scar tissue on the fruit. It’s quite susceptible to acetic rot, especially after a large amount of rainfall, making the berries blister and puff up, tightening to each other before eventually bursting. Its fruit is well-liked by hornets, wasps, deer and boar as well. Being a naturally good sugar collector, it makes for great aszú material. It is mostly used for creating products for fresh consumption and making nicely scented dry wines, although its unique taste palette can be used for producing late-harvest or even aszú wine from Sárgamuskotály.
Its flavours’ primary components are terpene compounds (monoterpenes), which are primary aroma components found in the ripe berries themselves. Due to consumers usually lacking the experience in tasting the original musk, its scent is usually associated with a “grape’s fruit scent”, or perhaps a rose’s flowery smell. Other grape varieties have also proven to emit the muscat-like scent (such as Chasselas) and the Gewürztramini’s special taste is also thanks to terpene compounds. The preservation of the primary aroma is the most challenging factor of working with this grape, since these valuable substances are quite sensitive to high temperature and oxidation. In past years, the dry, elegantly scented, relatively low-alcohol wines’ fruits are usually harvested at the end of a hot August, or an early September. During these times, an early morning picking and the cooling of the berries – before the processing of the fruit – is a great way to preserve the natural scent and taste substances.
Sárgamuskotály is the most popular muscat in terms of planted areas in the world. It’s grown on 7620 hectares in France (2009), 13280 in Italy (2010), 713 in Spain (2008), 693 in Portugal (2010) and 647 hectares in our “slightly more competitive” home country of Hungary (2008). 560 hectares of the total are to be found in the Tokaj Region, according to recent statistical data (2018, HNT). Its oldest mention is from 1570 as “Muskotal”, although, like the other types grown in the region, it regained popularity after the replantation following the phylloxera swarm. It is most likely the oldest grape type produced in the Carpathian basin, being a great base for the rich wines made around Somló, the Mátra and the Balatonboglár regions as well.
Translated by Mara Várhelyi
száraz | dry 0,5l
alkohol | alcohol: 14%
maradékcukor | residual sugar: 2,9 g/l
sav | acidity: 7 g/l
készült | bottled: 3040 palack | bottles
nébih engedélyszám: JDVL
Tokaj különleges száraz bora Furmint és Kövérszőlő fajtákból, melyet aszúsodott szőlőfürtökből készítünk és az átlagosnál hosszabb ideig érlelünk fahordóban, így illatban és ízben elsősorban az érlelési aromák érvényesülnek jobban.
Eddigi kóstolói az alábbi jelzőkkel illették:
Illat: Virág, méz, aszalt gyümölcs, marcipán, csokoládé, finom tölgyfa, friss csipkebogyó
Íz: Citrusok, keserűmandula, csokoládé
Nagyon fiatal bor, a több éves érlelést meg fogja hálálni.
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