Tuesday, November 24, 2020

New Cameron Hughes Wines Deliver Half Price And Full Value

Cameron Hughes WineWe scoffed when we were told these premium reds were half-price. Then we opened the bottles…

Cracking The Quality-Price Code

We’ve known Cameron Hughes for quite a few years. The brand never fails to surprise – in a good way.

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If you’re not familiar with Cameron Hughes Wine, the first thing to know is that Cameron Hughes is a négociant, not a winery or even a vineyard. A négociant is a merchant who buys and sells wine. This is a common thing in Europe, but is perhaps unfamiliar here in the States.

Cameron Hughes focuses on sourcing the very best wine and negotiating the most favorable price. The name of the source winery is undisclosed to protect the brand. As a result, Cameron Hughes Wine can obtain $100 Cabernet Sauvignon and sell it for a third of the price, or offer a $60 Pinot Noir for less than $20. Sounds like a great concept to me, an avid wine consumer.

We recently popped open three new releases, billed as half-price reds. That and the fact that they come from three of our favorite regions certainly piqued our interest.

Cameron Hughes Lot 730 Zinfandel

A Lot Of Lots

Each of the wines is given a lot number, and the first lot we liked – a lot. That was Lot 730, the 2018 Zinfandel from Lodi. We enjoyed this on the patio after a socially-distant wine dinner with friends.

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Lodi is the epicenter of the Zinfandel world and, in our humble opinion, produces the very best Zinfandel wines. It also produces a lot of Zin, some of which is the grocery store variety. If you look carefully, you’ll find the specially crafted wine, like Lot 730.

This is fruity on the nose, but the palate reveals depth with layers of plum, raspberry and leather. This is a dry wine with a velvety texture and a very long finish. The wine was aged for a year in French oak.

The SRP is $13, half of what you would pay at the source winery. It’s a small release with 1,500 cases.

We love big Cabs and we cannot lie. Occasionally, though, we pine for something that’s not from Napa. We found our answer with Lot 735, a 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is a unique California AVA in that it has both coastline and mountains. In addition, the mountains and valleys run east-west as opposed to north-south.

Cameron Hughes Lot 729 Pinot NoirLot 735 is an outstanding Cab value, priced at $16, and again this is half of winery price. Santa Barbara is known more for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir than Cabernet, but this is a shining example of mid-to-full-bodied Cab. The winemaker has French and American training and the grapes come from high-elevation vineyards.

A Pinot That Cuts Pricing, Not Corners

Russian River Valley is one of the world’s greatest Pinot Noir regions. Located in California’s Sonoma County, it gets maritime breezes and morning fog, ideal for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

We returned to our patio firepit and uncorked the bottle of Lot 729, a 2018 Pinot from RRV. This gem is also priced at $16, half the price of its cousins at the winery. From the first sip, we knew this was a winner.

There is a complex nose of earth and strawberries. On the palate there are layers of cranberry and savory flavors. A pinch of spice and playful acidity frame a balanced wine. The mouthfeel is velvety.

These latest releases from Cameron Hughes show that it is possible to find 90+ rated wines for less than $20. We hope that he continues to work his magic. Cameron Hughes wines can be found only online.

Full Disclosure: These wines were received as marketing samples.

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