Moscato di Alessandria, Italian name for the Muscat of Alexandria grape variety. Moscato di Alessandria is officially listed in Italy’s National Registry as Zibibbo. Moscato di Alessandria is the off-spring of Moscato Bianco.

The name: The Arabic word, zabīb, which probably refers to a dried grape or raisin, may be the origin of the name Zibibbo, but not all experts agree. Although its synonym, Moscato di Alessandria, recalls Egypt and the city of Alexandria, the name Zibibbo preceded Moscato di Alessandria. This together with its relationship to a proven Italian cultivar (Moscato Bianco) has led experts to argue that it is likely Italian or perhaps Greek in origin. The Moscato di Alessandria / Zibibbo is known by many other synonyms in the Mediterranean countries where it grows. In a curious twist there are red-berried mutations of Moscato di Alessandria: Black Muscat of Alexandria (grown in the United Kingdom), Red Hanepoot (South Africa), and Flame Muscat (California).

Where grown: Sicily: Moscato di Pantelleria DOC. | Pantelleria DOC. | Sicilia DOC.

Viticulture: One of the most heat- and drought-resistant Moscatos; tolerance to hot seaside breezes and windy conditions accounts for its renowned Passito di Pantelleria wines.

Wine style: Often richer than wines made with Moscato Bianco and Moscato Giallo. Raisin notes and a certain saline quality distinguish Zibibbo. Unlike Moscato Bianco and Moscato Giallo, the wines don’t show the typical floral and orange blossom aromas, but instead feature orange jam, caramel and sweet figs, especially in the sweet or passito versions.

Specific styles: Still, dry table wines, sparkling and passito styles. When made in dry, Moscato di Pantelleria wine is fresh, dry, and aromatic, with aromas and flavours of dried herbs, lily of the valley, ginger, and apricot. If made from air-dried grapes—the Passito di Pantelleria, is sticky-sweet and lusciously creamy, with obvious honey and orange marmalade aromas and flavours. Fortified (liquoroso) versions also exist.

Bibliography

See Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014).

Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.62-3