Muscat d’ Alexandrie is a versatile white grape variety, best known for the sweet wines it produces. It is a derivative of the Muscat family. A pink berried version exists, known as Flame Muscat in California and Rooi Hanepoot in South Africa.
The variety has its origins in the Mediterranean. The general conception is that it originated in a region near the Port of Alexandria, therefore the name Muscat d ’Alexandrie, and that Phoenician traders took it to ancient Greece, from where it was taken to the rest of Europe.
It is known as Muscat Romain in certain parts of the world and referred to as Hanepoot in South Africa.
Production in South Africa
It is believed to be the “Spanish druyfen”, which in English means Spanish grapes, that Jan van Riebeeck referred to in his diary, so has most probably been among the first grape varieties to be imported into South Africa. The variety is a popular winter warmer.
The grapes like hot sunny areas with low humidity. It is planted in all the wine producing regions of South Africa, with the Breedekloof accounting for the largest area under production, followed by the Olifants River.
Growth and Ripening
It is a moderate grower with high production potential, ranting between 20 t/ha to 23 t/ha depending on production conditions. It ripens late, towards the end of March.
Berries and Leaves
Berries are large and round with green skin that turns yellowish-white, almost pale gold, when ripe. The skin is thin, yet tough, while the flesh is clear, juicy and sweet. The leaves are dark green, medium-sized and five lobed.
Pests and Diseases
The variety is sensitive to white rust, downy mildew and anthracnose. Sun damage is a problem, resulting in yellow or brown heat stains on especially older leaves.
The wine is best known in its fortified form, used to produce Muscadel and Jerepigo, and is also used for the production of table wines, liqueurs, brandy, Grappa, table grapes, raisins, grape juice and moskonfyt.
The variety delivers luscious wines with flowery bouquets and intense honey and raisin flavours.
By Glenneis Kriel