Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating: **** $$ Cameron Hughes CH Lot 82 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa CA, 2006 - (BEST VALUE)

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By way of background: Cameron Hughes is a negociant operating from the United States and serving primarily retail markets, though also distributing via a direct mail web site. I've reviewed a number of CH wines before, and have found them generally (although not always) good values.

This is definitely a higher-end bottling for the Cameron Hughes wine label, coming as a pure cabernet fruit of indistinct origin. As Cameron says on his site, "I got it from a guy who got it from a guy." Let's see what he got from this guy...

Original review, October, 2009: 

In the glass: A deep, magenta, dusty red. Fully opaque from just a fingernail inside the glass. Highlights are deep purple red.

On the nose: Aromas are solid, thick and red fruity. The 14.5% alcohol lifts the somewhat clenched aromas a bit. There's some wood with the deeper red fruit.

On the palate: A thick black fruit middle is the first note, quickly highlighted by deep, sweet, full tannins and just a touch of acid. It is deep, ripe blackberry on steroids.

And the finish: The wine coats your palate fully, leaving you with nothing to do but to wait, wait, wait as the full-on experience fades slowly and sweetly away.

In summary: A powerful, quite memorable experience, not bringing an enormous sense of place. At this point, a solid three star effort on the Spirit of Wine scale. However, I will allow it a bit of a decant before a final assessment.... Following the decant, I note the solid but silty tannins still holding up a finish. A plus will be added to the three stars in recognition of future potential for the wine upon storage. Decent value.
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Updated review, over a year and a half later, June, 2011:  Color and aroma are entirely consistent with the earlier tasting.  So, too, is the palate, thick and full and ripe blackberry and potent.  Sleek, full, thick and, yes, potent.  Ageless, it would seem, as well. Following long decant, two days kept cool in partially filled bottle:  Aromas are red ink lifted by the alcohol.  The palate is significantly more integrated - lush, luscious and layered.  Super-sweet tannins pull the finish into a point way out on the horizon.  Four stars with the long decant.  Best value now, with age and decanting. 

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