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Second Look – Wines of Cameron Hughes

February 3, 2013 8 comments

Have you heard of Cameron Hughes? About three years ago, his name was one of the most mentioned in the wine and even general business press. In the 2009-2010, when the US economy was down, he created a business where he managed to take the wines which many wineries had no ability to sell, bottle them under his name and successfully sell – of course at a fraction of the price. Cabernet Sauvignon which winery had no ability to sell for $85, he was successfully selling for $18 – well, I guess you are not surprised. The small caveat was – you could never know what actual wine it was, as all of his dealings were protected under very strong non-disclosure agreements.

Why second look? Back in 2010, I tried some of his wines, and after failing to fall in love 3 or 4 times, I simply decided that I’m done trying. Two days ago, walking into Cost Less Wines in Stamford, I found a line of Cameron Hughes wines being tasted:

Cameron Hughes Wines Feb 2013

Do you think I could pass a free tasting? Even with my preconceived notion of Cameron Hughes wines, a free tasting is a free tasting, right?

Let me pause for a second and ask – do you think I liked any of the wines? Did I like 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4?

Okay, got an opinion? Let’s move on and see if you got it right.

2010 Cameron Hughes Lot 270 Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley ($10.99, 13.2% ABV)- from the first smell, this was a perfect beginning – bright, citrusy, fresh on the nose, with the same notion supported on the palate – grapefruit, lemon peel, white apple, perfect acidity – somewhat similar to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc but more delicately weaved. This wine was close to Honig Sauvignon Blanc or Mara White Grass – but a bit cheaper then either one of those. Here is the link for the full info on Cameron Hughes site. And you probably got  the idea that I liked the wine.

2010 Cameron Hughes Lot 314 Chardonnay Atlas Peak Napa Valley ($14.99, 14.2% ABV) – very nice vanilla on the nose, light and not aggressive – continuing with fresh balance of vanilla and white apples on the palate, light touch of oak, very remote hint of butter and may be some addition of papaya – very balanced, and very pleasant. Here is the link. And yes, you are right, I liked that one too.

2009 Cameron Hughes Lot 304 Meritage Napa Valley ($11.99, 14.5% ABV) – this wine is a blend of 64% Cabernet Franc, 23% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petite Verdot. Very delicate red fruit aroma on the nose, nothing overboard, no jammy burnt fruit which is often associated with inexpensive California reds. Black currant, mint and eucalyptus on the palate, soft tannins, good acidity, overall very balanced. Yes, that is 3 out of three (and here is the link).

2011 Zin Your Face Zinfandel California ($16.99, 14.4% ABV) – this wine proudly advertizes itself right on the front label as “Spicy Jammy Yummy”. It has all the classic aromas on the nose – blueberries, blueberry pie, blackberries, the same profile is repeated on the palate – but it is too watery, it doesn’t have a supportive body density and power, and as the result appears somewhat sweet. While it is a well made wine, it is not the wine of my style. As the end result, we are staying with 3 out of 4 (here is the link).

As you can see from the notes, you can call me a convert – these are definitely the wines to buy, and they offer an excellent QPR for everyday drinking. I’m glad I stopped by, overcame my predisposition and can now put Cameron Hughes wines into “to drink” category.

If you have your own experience with Cameron Hughes wines or become a convert on something – please share it here.

Until the next time – cheers!

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