Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Honey of a Wine

I love white dessert wines, never more so than in summer when their honeyed color, aromas, and flavors seem to contain the essence of the season. And, most white dessert wines (unlike ports or late harvest zinfandels) have relatively low alcohol levels, which is always welcome at the end of a meal, or on a hot day.

Recently I found a honey of a dessert wine made from muscat canelli grapes. The 2003 Robert Pecota Muscat Canelli Moscato d'Andrea ($11.99/375ml, Beverages & More) is perhaps the best value in US dessert wine I've ever had. They've been producing this wine for over 20 years, and it's no wonder. The wine is pale gold color, rather than the intense golden color of a sauternes or late harvest Sauvignon Blanc. Opening the wine I knew I was going to love it because of its pronounced aromas of honey and beeswax. Sipping the wine revealed a satiny texture, and as the wine warmed up there were lovely scents of honeysuckle, orange blossom, and lemon. These were echoed in the wine's flavors, and accompanied by a bit of rich creme fraiche roundness and tanginess in the finish. The wine's honeyed notes give it the illusion of botyritis, even though that is not present in this wine. Not overpoweringly sweet, and just 11.2% alc./vol., it is outstanding in its complexity. At a little over $10, this wine certainly qualifies as having excellent QPR. This wine is perfect to sip on its own, or pair it with some sliced peaches or a few simple cookies, such as madeleines.

Robert Pecota Winery has long been based in Calistoga, but the owners "downsized" in the summer of 2006 by selling their estate vineyard to Jess Jackson's Artisan label and moving to nearby Bennett Lane where they will continue to produce wines under the Pecota label. As the grapes for this wine come from the Solari Vineyard in Calistoga, I don't think the move will make a difference to production in this case. Here's looking to another 20 years of this delicious dessert wine.

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