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)