MUSCAT OF TYRNAVOS

Moschato Tyrnavou is a grape variety holding a dominant position in the area of Tyrnavos, where it is cultivated on around 1.500 hectares. It is a grape variety that can sporadically be found around the world, in Greece, however, is associated with Tyrnavos, since the most of it has been grown in the wider area of Tyrnavos. The cultivation of Muscat began when the historical vineyard of Tyrnavos was destroyed due to phylloxera; then, during the period 1930-36, the Agricultural School of Larissa distributed anti-phylloxera vines, and the cultivation of Muscat was promoted among others.

This grape variety is the cross of the Italian variety Schiava Grossa (Trollinger or Black Hamburg) with the Egyptian Muscat of Alexandria. It has been first grown in greenhouses in England, where it was known under the name “Black Muscat of Alexandria”, but then its cultivation was expanded almost everywhere in the world, in Europe (France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Romania, Portugal etc.), the USA (California, Virginia, Oregon, Texas), Egypt, Argentina, while lately it can also be found in China. In the different regions of the world, where it is cultivated, it is used as an ingredient of wine blends, in the production of dessert wine, is sold as a fruit; however, wines made exclusively from Muscat Hamburg can rarely be found.

On the basis of the new conditions created by the cultivation of new grape varieties following the phylloxera disaster, the winegrowers of the area, having a longstanding experience on wines, worked and made the best of Muscat in many ways: by producing a variety of aromatised wines, especially of light red wines, by distilling it, and by selling it on the market as a fresh grape. The large area cultivated with Muscat Hamburg, the good adaption of this grape variety to the new environment, as well as its diverse utilisation made Tyrnavos a global reference point, as far as this grape variety is concerned. Evidence of this is that in the Vitis International Variety Catalogue (VIVC), among the 87 synonyms of the variety – the vast majority of which are variations of the name “Muscat Hamburg” – there is also the synonym “MOSCHATO TYRNAVOU”. This is proof of the reputation of Moschato Tyrnavou worldwide and reasonably raises the issue of the protection of this designation through the national variety catalogue. This will allow this designation to be used and, thus, the use of the word “Hamburg” to be avoided, since it does not fall within the description of the variety and the products derived from it. Besides, after so many decades, this variety is considered to be a native one in people’s mind.

Agricultural Winery Cooperative of Tyrnavos plays a leading role in the winemaking and distillation of Muscat in the area. Throughout its 50-years-old history, the Agricultural Winery Cooperative of Tyrnavos presented various wine expressions and distillates (tsipouro) through the production of products, for which there is an increased consumer demand countrywide, but also prospects for their placing on new foreign markets of great interest, such as China’s market.

The wines derived from Muscat are a category themselves mainly due to their aromatic character. Among them, those which stand out most are the semi-sweet and sweet wines, whose residual sugar content highlights their aroma, as well as the white, rosé and red wines from selected vineyards. Excellent sparkling wines are generally made from Muscat varieties due to their aromatic character. Therefore, a rosé sparkling wine produced from Moschato Tyrnavou would have great prospects in the current market, which shows an increased demand for sparkling wines. Throughout this long journey, following the protection of the designation of this grape variety in 2008 with the view to producing Local Wines from Tyrnavos, PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) wines have also been produced from this difficult and challenging to handle grape variety.

Source :  Tyrnavos Winery