Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review: **** $$ Cameron Hughes Lot 160 Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California, 2008 - BEST VALUE

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Original Tasting and Review, February, 2010:

By way of background: Cameron Hughes Lot 160 Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi, California, is from the negociant Cameron Hughes who procures grapes and finished wines from a number of growers.  According to CH, this lot was purchased this from a unique operation preferring to make a variety of "component wines" from various vineyards and varietals, making a range of wines from $250-a-bottle Napa cabs to $18-a-bottle California red blends.. This 2008 vintage is finished at a bold 14.9% alcohol.

In the glass: Cameron Hughes Lot 160 Old Vine Zinfandel shows as very deep maroon red in the glass, with purple glints.

On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, this Lodi zin pours out bold, beefy, brambly and fruity aromas, filling your nostrils and the room.  You want to bathe and shower in this sweet stuff.  

On the palate: The first element on the palate is a sweet sandpaper ripe fruit that coats your entire tongue.  The silty coating gives way to a fresh, red, berry fruit that moves along with just enough lightness to bring flavors to your cheeks at the same time that it invades the roof of your mouth too.  There is a fresh raisin quality to the fruit.

And the wrap-up: The finish is even and actually somewhat muted.  Almost like the wine wants to give you a chance to relax after the experience you've just been through.  Like the smooth fast glide at the end of a roller-coaster ride.

In summary: Overall, a lot of action in this young wine. Rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for undeniable passion.  Good to great value depending on whether you purchase on sale or at listed price plus shipping.

Following a two-day decant under vacuum in a partially-opened bottle:  Although the aromas have muted somewhat, the rest of the experience has matured nicely, pairing the smooth, red, middle, with a nice, even, luxurious finish.  Help up very nicely to this decant as it would, I expect, to more time in bottle as well.

Updated review, over a year and a half later, October, 2011:  More brick than purple at the edges of the glass now.  Still boldly spicy and sweet on the nose.  A sleek and mellow experience overall.  I miss the sandpapery quality of the younger wine.  The red berry fruit still has just enough lift to make it to the roof of your mouth.   

Following long decant, two full days kept cool in partially filled bottle: Softer, sweeter, redder, fruitier, even more fun than when right out of the bottle.  It hits a crazy four stars with this extra air time, and becomes a full-fledged "best value" wine by our criteria.

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