The ultimate A-Z of grapes: M

The ultimate A-Z of grapes: M

Macabeo 

A white wine grape. It is also known as Viura (and other names). It is widely grown in the Rioja region of northeastern Spain, the Cava producing areas south of Barcelona, and the Languedoc region of France. The grape is used to make mildly acidic and young white wines suitable for early consumption or blended with other varieties.

 Macabeo is traditionally blended with Xarel lo and Parellada to make a sparkling Cava, the best known sparkling wine of Spain.

Malbec

Malbec is a variety of black grape. The grapes tend to have an inky dark colour and robust tannins. Long known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine, Malbec is now found mainly in Cahors in the South West France region. It is also celebrated as the main Argentine grape.

Malvasia

Malvasia isn't just one grape, but a group of varieties grown historically in the Mediterranean region and on the island of Madeira, but now grown in many of the winemaking regions of the world.

Malvesia Nera

A wine grape variety from Asti in Piemonte, Italy. Usually produces an intense red wine, usually sweet and opulently perfumed called Malvasia.

Maratheftiko

is an ancient grape variety indigenous to Cyprus. It goes by a number of local names and is grown in sparse quantities around the island but mostly in the Pitsilia region. In the 1980s, with the revival of some small boutique wineries in Cyprus this variety was rediscovered and its cultivation is slowly on the increase again, as it offers a distinctive character to local wines.

Marsanne

A white wine grape, most commonly found in the northern Rhône, where it is often blended with Roussanne. Down Under, it's blended with Viognier and Rousanne in what’s commonly abbreviated to as a "VMR" blend. Fair Dinkum'.

Marsanne produces deeply colored wines that are rich and nutty, with hints of spice and pear. As Marsanne ages, the wine take get darker and can become complex and concentrated with an almost oily, honeyed texture. Aromas of nuts and quince can also develop.

Mauzac

If you read our previous post on grapes beginning with "L" you'll rememer Mauzac is a minor grape mainly grown in the Gaillac region southeast of Bordeaux in France where it's blended with Len de l’El to make for mildly sweet and sparkling white wines.

Mavro

Another Cypriot grape, taking its name from its dark colour. Despite being an ancient variety, it's well suited to the hot temperatures of Cyprus, which has made it the main vine on the island. It accounts for about 70% of vines there. Of note, is that Mavro continues to grow on ancient rootstock unlike most mainland European grapes that are grafted on North American rootstock, due to Phylloxera.

Cyprus managed to escape the ravages of the Phylloxera epidemic in the 19th century.

Melon de Bourgogne

A variety of white grape grown in the Loire Valley region of France and best known for being used to make Muscadet wine. As its name suggests, the grape originated in Burgundy (Bourgogne) and was grown there until its destruction was ordered in the early 18th century. And, it has very little to do with melons.

Mencia

A grape variety that traditionally produced non-descript light, pale, relatively fragrant red wines for early consumption. However, more recently, hillside plantings and good vineyard management have produced larger wines of greater complexity. You'll find it mostly in wines from the north of Spain, particularly Bierzo.

Merlot

Merlot is a red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for single variety wines. Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum, and currant. Its softness and “fleshiness”, combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot an ideal grape to blend with the more austere and late-developer Cabernet Sauvignon. Miles in that movie, Sideways, hated it, and sales of Merlot plummeted in North America as a result. Real shame!

Molinara

Molinara is a red wine grape from Italy. It adds acidity to Valpolicella blends, along with Corvina and Rondinella. Bardolino also employs the grape at levels of between 10% and 20%. It is seldom seen outside these wines, and is losing ground to Corvina in its home territory, but can make wines with bright flavours of red currants and a certain floral quality.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a type of wine grape as well as a type of red wine made from these same grapes in Abruzzo in eastern Italy.

Typically fruity, quite dry with soft tannins, and is therefore consumed relatively young. Not be confused with Brunello or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Tuscan wines made from Sangiovese and other grapes, but not the Montepulciano variety. Another naming enigma. 🤔

Mourvèdre

Mourvedre, or Monastrell in Spain, produces quite tannic wines that can be heady in alcohol, and is best represented in Rhone-style blends, and in Australia where they refer to it as GSM. It has a particular affinity for Grenache, softening it and giving it structure. It can differ depending on where it's grown and often has a  gamey and earthy undertone, with soft red fruit flavours. 

Müller-Thurgau

Fruity, but really not much use, unless you wanted to produce vast quantities of medium sweet German wine. Liebfraumilch being one such offender.

Muscadelle

Muscadelle is a white wine grape. It has a simple aroma of grape juice. Well, it is a grape, after all.

In France, it plays a small role in the sweet wines like Sauternes and Barsac. It rarely contributes more than 10% of the overall blend, the rest being Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Muscadet / Muscat

These grapes were one of the major varieties grown for table wine in Chile, and a minor player in California and Italy. 

In Italy, it is widely used in sweeter sparkling wines like Asti. Their ‘grapey’ quality makes many wines made from Muscat easy to identify. Moscato d’Asti is a lightly sparkling (frizzante) variety of Muscat, made from the Moscato Bianco grape in Piedmont. Other names you might recognise are Barbera d’Asti, Dolcetto d’Asti, and Asti Spumante.

Muscat is also widely grown in Portugal and Spain, where both grape and wines  are called Moscatel or Muscatel, and they're typically sweeter and stronger.

In Spain, sweet fortified Moscatels are produced in a number of regions, notably Malaga and Jerez, and are sometimes made using the solera system. A variety of muscat is one of the varietals used in the production of Sherry.

France also produces a number of sweet fortied vins doux naturels from muscat grapes, the best known being Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise.