Melon de Bourgogne or Melon is a variety of white grape grown primarily in the Loire Valley region of France. It is also grown in North America. It is best known through its use in the white wine Muscadet.
In the U.S., Federal law prevents “Muscadet” from being used for American-produced wine; only the full name of the grape, or the shortened “Melon” can be used.
As its name suggests, the grape originated in Burgundy and was grown there until its destruction was ordered in the early 18th century.
In the vineyards around Nantes and the western Loire, however, the harsh winter of 1709 destroyed so many vines that a new variety was needed, and the Melon grape was introduced. Since then it has been used solely in the production of the light dry white wine Muscadet, which is made entirely from the Melon grape. The grape is so associated with its appellation that the grape itself is often known as Muscadet.
DNA analysis has revealed Melon de Bourgogne to be a cross between Pinot blanc and Gouais blanc.
As of 2007, the grape is grown in Oregon where it is known simply as Melon. The grape has been introduced into Washington by Perennial Vintners on Bainbridge Island, six miles across Puget Sound from Seattle. This grape was brought to America in 1939, and was propagated incorrectly as Pinot Blanc in the early 1980s.
Ampelographic characteristics of Melon de Bourgogne are cottony branches with a red border and yellow-green leaves in the Spring. Twigs have green internodes or faint red stripes. Orbicular adult leaves, whole, with slightly open or closed petiole sinus, teeth with straight edges, and a revolute blade.
A variety with vertical tendance that requires moderately long pruning because the buds at the base are not very fertile. It adapts well to clay-siliceous and cool soils.
The melon is quite sensitive to mildew and very sensitive to gray rot favored by the compactness of the clusters. On the other hand, it is less susceptible to powdery mildew and eutypiosis.
Melon de Bourgogne gives balanced, dry, fresh, light wines with discreet aromas. It has a good aptitude for aging on lees. This method of vinification brings suppleness and roundness and relatively protects the wine from the oxidation to which it is sensitive. Its wine is not generally intended for aging, but some limited terroirs can keep their wines for several years, revealing flint aromas (powder, lighters).
In the glass, Melon de Bourgogne produces light, crisp, dry white wines with aromas and flavors of lemon, lime, green apple, pear, and its signature salinity, especially in wines from the Loire Valley.
Production area en 2018: 9 700 ha (23 969 acres)