Nero Musqué: the story of a Black Muscat that has become an adopted Sicilian Wine

Have you ever heard about Black Muscat? Have you ever been seduced by its aromatic notes? Today we want to tell you the story of this peculiar variety of Muscat wine which braved a journey of more than 1000 km in order to blossom and bear fruit. From this, we obtained a unique wine: Nero Musqué.

Black Muscat and its journey from the Euganean Hills to Sicily

The Euganean Hills are famous for being a warm and sunny land, especially on their southernmost slopes, and allow cultivation of a wide variety of crops. Among the grapevines typical of this area, two of the most renowned varieties are the White Muscat and the Yellow Muscat, the latter better known in these hills as Moscato Fior d’Arancio. But there exists another variety in Italy, once upon a time cultivated in the Euganean Hills: the Black Muscat. There are different kinds of this grapevine, a surprising fact for many visitors who are not assiduous patrons of wine tasting stands. Today we want to tell you the story of the one we care about the most: the variety of Muscat that allows us to produce Nero Musqué.

To best describe this Muscat wine, we must first talk about the grapevine itself. An unbecoming one, quite improductive. A plant challanged in its pollination and therefore in bearing fruit, very demanding in terms of exposure and climate. For these reasons it has been repeatedly planted and abandoned in different production areas. We were particularly lucky to get to know it closely on the southernmost slopes of the Euganean Hills, where it has been cultivated for several decades. The production was highly inconsistent not bearing fruit yearly, to the point that this variety, under the name of “Moscato Nero di Parenzo“, was first deleted from the ampelographic register and subsequently explanted, risking to disappear.
Franco Zanovello committed to saving a limited number of buds by taking them to Sicily, where in 2005 he started a study project about Muscats, in collaboration with the University of Palermo and Sicily Region. It was the perfect opportunity to plant these few buds, allowing them to bear fruit and slowly extend the cultivation of Moscato Nero to one hectare.

Black Muscat and its new life in Sicily

Our Sicilian vineyards are located in the Costa di Bisaccia district, a hilly area near Grisì (Palermo). At an altitude of about 600m, it is some fifteen kilometers as the crow flies from the Gulf of Castellammare. It thrives under the Sicilian sun and wind, in a dry climate, warm but never too much. These conditions help us in cultivating this grapevine, extremely demanding yet so generous in the organoleptic characteristics of its grapes, once it found its ideal habitat. While the production rates are low, they remain constant, allowing us to produce a wine of rare olfactory complexity.

But how did we get to the first label? After the first successful experiments, we managed to produce a sufficient volume of wine to bottle a first small batch. The result was a small bottle with a minimalist label, almost printed “in house” on a white background under the provisional name: “Nero” (black) to represent the grape variety, and “Musqué” (musky) for the characteristic scents typical of the Muscats especially prominent in this wine. Following this first experiment, we became fond of this minimalist label so different from our usual branding, making it stand out among the other bottles as a true surprise, both in terms of appeareance and curious aromas. Thus, we decided to make definitive what was born as provisional, finding the right bottle, perfecting the calligraphy and choosing the appropriate paper. We decided to refined the dress of this Black Muscat without changing its true nature.

More than 10 years later, we succeeded in reinstating it in the ampelographic register under the name of “Moscato delle Rose” (Muscat of Roses), honoring one of the characteristic scents that pervades the nostrils of those who taste it and for which it is remembered by those who love it.

Nero Musqué today: characteristics of Muscat of Roses

We are proud to produce this variety of Muscat. Along this long journey of discovery and rediscovery, we learned to know it intimately for its complexity and precious essence.
The bunch is sparse and reaches a natural over-ripening in the vineyard concentrating sugar and aromas towards the middle of September. While it requires a very careful evaluation of the day of harvest in order to obtain a balanced wine, its fermentation starts easily and stops on its own after about a month. All that remains for us to do at that point is to let it rest in cask for a couple of years.

A Sicilian Black Muscat which surprises at every sip

The resulting wine in the bottle is surprising: a sweet and spicy red wine, rich in fruity aromas ranging from apricot to red fruit in alcohol. Evident are also notes of aromatic herbs which recall the Mediterranean scrub. There is also a light musky hint of underbrush, loyal to its name. Among the flowers, one of the main scents is rose. This remarkable aromatic complexity pairs with a full sip. After having tasted it, the sensations on the palate are amplified as minutes go by, finding an excellent balance among sugar, silky tannins, sapidity and crispness. A dynamic wine, very persistent, which invites to be tasted again.

Nero Musqué is a treat to share with family and friends, but it also deserves to be enjoyed as a meditation wine. Sipped chilled (14-16°C) with dried fruit or mildly-dark chocolate, it is a cuddle you can dedicate to yourself at the end of the day.

“Author’s Trials”: a label of Black Muscat among our experiments

Those who know us know our passion for experimentation. So we could not stop at the sweet version of this extraordinary wine. After some trials, we are happy to announce the release of a dry version of Black Muscat.
This year we launched a new project, the “Author’s Trials“, which opens a door on our way of living wine. Among the labels which are part of this project, there is also a dry Black Muscat: very few bottles, produced only once, in a unique and specially created label.
By enjoying its frangrance, the aromaticity immediately takes the mind back to the Nero Musqué. Nevertheless, to the palate it is dry, warm, always as surprising as the sweet version, although in a different way.

This Muscat has become Sicilian by adoption, but we still feel it is strictly connected to our land: you just have to visit us in our winery in the Euganean Hills, we will be more than happy to take you to taste this unique wine.

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