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Zibibbo/Muscat of Alexandria

Zibibbo is the Southern Italian name for the more well-known, Muscat of Alexandria (MoA). MoA, or Zibibbo, is one of the most ancient grape varieties still in existence today. As the name suggests, it originated around the city of Alexandria, on the Nile delta in Ancient Egypt, and from there it was spread throughout the Mediterranean by Roman traders.

It is usually vinified into a sweet, dessert style wine, such as the Pantelleria wines from the island they share their name with, or the richly fortified wines of Rutherglen in Victoria. There are, however, a small handful of producers that are making Zibibbo as a dry wine. Throughout Spain and Portugal, it is often used to produce light, aromatic wines that are not overly complex and intended to be drunk young. Also, here in Australia, some enterprising producers such as Brash Higgins from the McLaren Vale are making Zibibbo into very interesting dry wines. Brad Hickey (the man behind the Brash label) produces a full skin-contact Zibibbo that shows lifted candied orange notes and a seductive cardamom spice character. Definitely a grape to look out for!