or Melon de Bourgogne

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Melon or Melon de Bourgogne, the most planted grape variety in the Loire valley, planted on 10,798 ha/26,671 acres in 2011 and famous in only one respect and one region, muscadet. As its full name suggests, its origins are Burgundian, and this is one of the many progeny of Pinot and Gouais Blanc (see pinot). Melon was outlawed from Burgundy just like Gamay at various times during the 16th and 17th centuries. Unlike its fellow white Burgundian and sibling Chardonnay, several of whose synonyms include the word Melon, it is not a noble grape variety but it does resist cold well and produces quite regularly and generously. It had spread as far as Anjou in the Middle Ages according to Bouchard and so it was natural that the vine-growers of the Muscadet region to the west might try it. It became the dominant vine variety of the Loire-Atlantique in the 17th century, when dutch traders encouraged production of high volumes of relatively neutral white wine, in place of the thin reds for which the region had previously been known, as base wines for Holland’s enthusiastic distillers.