Very dusty bottles, nearly hidden at the back of shelf in an old wine shop: this was my first encounter with Muscat Canellli, soon after I began visiting Napa and Sonoma to learn about wine. Because the labels and the bottles were unknown to me, I was intrigued. I bought a bottle and opened it to find peaches and flowers and tawny color: this was an older wine, even then. It teased the senses, grew larger and balanced and sweeter on the tongue, with a lingering finish.

With all the other wines in the world to learn about, Muscat Canelli got pushed to the back of my mind. Pushed way back, but never forgotten. So I was thrilled to learn that Cameron Hughes is making a new, semi-sweet Muscat Canelli, with grapes from Lake County in Northern California. And the wine is made with organic grapes from a family-owned vineyard planted in the 1970s.

The wine’s aroma offers white flowers with light Meyer lemon and tangerine, cut with a hint of chalky minerality. Peach and apricot flavors on the palate, with nice citric acidity teasing the tongue. Honey-lemon reappears in the moderate finish. And it’s just 12% alcohol. Serve chilled.

Only 400 cases made.

PAIRING: Though it may seem like stating the obvious, a cold salad with canelli beans, olive oil and herbs is a good start, either as antipasto or as part of a summer vegetable salad plate. The muscat grape is grown in many different countries, so think international with food pairings.

SUSTAINABILITY: Organically-grown grapes

WHO: Cameron Hughes

WHAT: 100% muscat Canelli [aka muscat blanc]

WHERE: Lake Country, California

HOW MUCH: $12 (media sample)


About The Author

An experienced writer, editor, broadcaster, and consultant in the fields of wine, spirits, food, and travel, Becky Sue's work has appeared in many national and international publications including Intermezzo Magazine, Fine Wine & Liquor, Art & Antiques, Luxury Golf & Travel, Food + Wine, and Wine Spectator. She began her career as a restaurant reviewer for the Los Angeles Times while working in film and television. Epstein is also the author of several books on wine, spirits, and food, including Champagne: A Global History; Brandy: A Global History, and Strong, Sweet and Dry: A Guide to Vermouth, Port, Sherry, Madeira, and Marsala.

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