Christmas muscat (Muscat de Noël): celebrating the release of the first Muscat de Rivesaltes of the year

Muscat de Noël, a special cuvée of the AOP Muscat de Rivesaltes since 1997, launcheD its newest vintage this year on November 15th. This fresh-from-the-tank wine (a fortified sweet wine or “VDN” = Vin Doux Naturel) makes year-end festivities brighter as it wins over more and more consumers thanks to its exceptional value for money.  In the past 10 years, sales have increased by 23%.

Over 20 years of steady growth

Resulting from the work and dedication of hundreds of producers, over 530 000 bottles of Muscat de Noël will be made available to the public this year, 30 times more than 20 years ago, when the total volume produced was about 20 000 bottles. Of these half million bottles, 50% will go to wholesalers and wine shops operating in the Pyrénées-Orientales and Aude regions, while 45% will be distributed in wine shops throughout France, mainly in the Paris region and in the South of France. The remaining 5% will be sent to export markets, notably in Northern Europe (Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands).

Muscat de Noël, a history rooted in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, the first Muscat of the year was traditionally served to the Barcelona noblemen during the Christmas holiday. Since then, it has evolved into more of a family tradition, transmitted from one generation to the next. In 1997, a handful of passionate winemakers decided to make it available to the greatest number by creating, as a complement to the regular AOC Muscat de Rivesaltes, a specific designation: Muscat de Noël. This Christmas Muscat must adhere to very specific production and marketing rules: the wine must first be submitted for tasting by a panel of professionals who must approve every Muscat de Noël; it must be bottled “at the property” no later than December 1st ; and its official release date is the third Thursday of November.

A wine aligned with the strategy developed for the wines of Roussillon

Muscat de Noël may represent only 5% of total sales of AOP Muscat de Rivesaltes, yet it is nonetheless an important pillar in the overall strategy for the wines of Roussillon. Released only a few weeks after harvest, it is an undeniable economic asset for the local producers. Plus, it generates additional media exposure and reinforces the notoriety of the wines of Roussillon in a highly competitive environment. It also reaches a broader public which loves its colorful and festive packaging, and the fresh flavors of recently harvested grapes. Muscat de Noël is a versatile companion that will suit either a cocktail party or a more traditional meal … and continue to accompany the holidays all the way through Three Kings’ Day!


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