Although crossbreeding of crops is fairly common, and certainly not out of the ordinary, I like to think of this member of the Muscat family as the Frankengrape. Muscat Ottonel was created in 1852 by Robert Moreau, a horticulturist residing in Angers, France. Although it is not known exactly which grapes he combined, most sources seem to point to Chasselas and Muscat de Saumur, the latter not being a normally desirable wine grape. The combination was desirable though, and it quickly gained a following as it proved to be the most cold-resistant strain of wine-quality Muscats. It also ripens earlier than most other Muscats, and possesses subtler Muscat overtones than most of its brethren.

These reasons led to a burgeoning popularity, allowing it to nearly drive Muscat Blanc totally out of the Alsace wine region since its creation. It also has great popularity in Austria and Germany, and in the latter country, it has proven to be exceptional for the creation of botrytis wines when carefully tended to. It is slowly gaining popularity in Hungary, and some New York vineyards have been looking into the possibility of growing this grape.

In addition to the ultra-sweet botrytis wines, Muscat Ottonel can be vinified in the so-called reductive style of winemaking to produce superb and fresh wines with body. In Alsace, it is preferred for semi-dry, aromatic wines, and in Austria, rich dessert wines.

Visually, the grape isn't the least bit striking; the berries are a slightly yellowish shade of medium green and medium in size. Despite the upsides of hardiness and ripening characteristics, it has the downside of being a low to moderate-yield grape. It tends to be lime-sensitive, and it finds clay soils inhospitable.

Regardless, there are some remarkable wines made from this hybrid, and it continues to grow in popularity.

Wines

  • Currently, I either haven't had a chance to try these. They're on my list, and after sampling them, they will be noded. These wines are either Hungarian or Austrian, so it may be a good while before I can procure them.
  • Kracher Bouvier & Muscat Ottonel Trockenbeerenauslese
  • Weingut Martin Haider Muscat Ottonel Trockenbeerenauslese Neusiedlersee
  • Weingut Martin Haider Traminer Ausbruch
  • Elso Magyar Borhaz Badacsonyi Muscat Ottonel

Aliases

Muskotaly, Muskat Ottonel, Muscadel Ottonel


Sources

  • http://eat.epicurious.com/
  • http://www.aboutwines.com/
  • http://www.cookeryonline.com/
  • http://www.winespectator.com/

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