The white grape variety comes from France. Although it has slight morphological differences in leaves and shoots compared to Chardonnay, it has an identical DNA profile. Morillon can be described as a variety or clone of Chardonnay. In Austrian Styria, Chardonnay is traditionally referred to as Morillon and is still regarded as a separate species. However, some producers use both names to document a difference to a qualitatively "better" wine, which is then called Chardonnay. In the other Austrian provinces, however, the name Morillon does not play a role.
There is often talk of a journey of Styrian winegrowers to France on the occasion of the phylloxera catastrophe at the end of the 19th century, who looked for phylloxera-resistant grape varieties and returned with the Morillon. Apart from the fact that Morillon is not at all phylloxera-resistant, such a journey has not been confirmed. Moreover, according to Hermann Goethe (1837-1911), the name Morillon Blanc was used for the Chardonnay long before the phylloxera invasion in Styria. In the 19th century, Morillon (like Pinot Blanc) was also called Weißer Klevner in Styria. And Pinot Blanc used to be falsely equated with Chardonnay. This also contributed to the confusion and confusion - as well as the fact that there are many varieties with the synonym Morillon:
There is a simple explanation for the frequent use of "Morillon" for grape varieties that are sometimes not related at all. The syllable "Mor" or "Maur" is derived from the dark-skinned Moors (Berber tribes) from North Africa, who operated in southern France and Iberia until the 12th century, and indicates dark grapes. The syllable "illon" stands for "diminution" and refers to "small berries". The name Morillon therefore means nothing other than "small black" or "small moor". However, it is also used for white grape varieties.
Pictures: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)