Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cameron Hughes Wine Tasting

Find prices and retail availability for Cameron Hughes wines.

Background to this tasting: Cameron Hughes is a negociant, typically purchasing excess or odd lot wine, then finishing in Cameron Hughes labeling.  They have generated a number of best buys in past Spirit of Wine reviews.   Here we are sampling a half dozen wines provided by Cameron Hughes, presented in a 50 ml bottle format by a company called the Tasting Room.

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Wine review, by way of background:  This is Cameron Hughes Lot 151, Riesling 70%, Chenin Blanc 30%, Columbia Valley, WA, finished at 12.% alcohol.

In the glass: Clear with a hint of vanilla.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows a fruity nose of kiwi and white grapes.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are sweet white grape juice and a sleek, underlying butterscotch velvet.

In summary: Overall, an aromatic and friendly experience that rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for extreme friendliness. At a $ price level, this is a best value.

Following long decant, three days kept cool in partially-filled bottle:  More sharpness and tanginess on the nose.  More sleekness and complexity on the palate.  Moves up a full level to four stars on the long decant.  Consider keeping a bottle in the cellar.  Awesome value!
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Wine review, by way of background:  This is Cameron Hughes Lot 161 Meritage, Cabernet Sauvignon 60%, Cabernet Franc, 30%, Merlot 10%, Sonoma County, CA, finished at 15.3% alcohol.

In the glass: Deep muddy magenta, opaque from about an inch in from the edge of the glass.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, this Sonoma meritage sports a big, blousy, deep, perfumed and fragrant black cherry fruit, filling the room. 

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are sandy and silty tannins surrounding a dark berry fruit, with a solid acid core.  Serious, brooding and a bit challenging now, seems to want to relax a bit.   

In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for ageworthiness. Price category is $$.

Following long decant, three days kept cool in partially-filled bottle:   Bright, bold, but now more narrowly-focused aroma, still inky black cherry.  Lightened up some on the palate, but it needed that. More red fruit.  Nice... the plus for ageworthiness seems appropriate.
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Wine review, by way of background:  This is Cameron Hughes Lot 172 Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak, Napa, CA, finished at 14.9% alcohol.

In the glass:  Deep burgundy, opaque about a half inch in. 

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, this Atlas Peak cab shows a surprisingly shy nose, with violets showing through.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are a thick, almost creamy and sandy mid-mouth feel, with waves of bright red fruit trickling along inside.  Acids curl up and fix the finish in your cheeks.  Very long waves of fruit as the sip settles.

In summary: Overall, rates four stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  Pricing category is $$$.

Following long decant, three days kept cool in partially-filled bottle:   Still shy on the nose.  Still creamy but a bit more acidic on the palate.  I'm surprised the decanting hasn't improved nor settled the wine.
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Wine review, by way of background:  This is Cameron Hughes, Lot 175 Merlot, Napa Valley, 2007, finished at 14.8% alcohol.

In the glass:  Deep magenta with hint of purple at the edge, opaque in the very center.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously,  this Napa merlot shows a sweet red berry and red cherry nose. 

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are bright and tangy mid palate with just a hint of tannins following up.  Fruity and direct.

In summary: Overall, rates two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for simple pleasantness.  Pricing category is $$.

Following long decant, three days kept cool in partially-filled bottle:   Sweet berry nose.  Bright red palate. Holding steady.
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Wine review, by way of background:  This is Cameron Hughes Lot 176 Pinot Noir, Los Carneros, Napa, CA, 2008, finished at 14.5% alcohol.

In the glass: Medium brick with pink overtones.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, this Los Carneros pinot noir brings a shy, but classic, pinot noir nose forward, with sweet raspberries and strawberries. 

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are a creamy and rounded mid-palate sweet fruit, lightly tickling your cheeks with balanced acids.  Think fragrance and fruit as the watchwords.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for outstanding balance.  I gave this a three-star rating in a tasting about six months ago.  At the price category of $$, this is a good buy.

Following long decant, three days kept cool in partially-filled bottle:   The nose still carries fruit, but has gotten chunkier. Even a lusher palate now, with nice balance.   This pinot noir likes the air!
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Wine review, by way of background:  This is Cameron Hughes Lot 179 Cabernet Sauvignon 50%, Syrah 50%, Napa Valley, CA, finished at 14.5% alcohol.

In the glass: Deep magenta, almost black, opaque from about a quarter inch in from the edge.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, this cab/syrah Napa blend shows a deep, black, muddled blackberry, lifted high by alcohol.  Oak comes through in the mix.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are a balanced and lush blackberry on the mid palate, full of silty tannins and lifting acids.  Powerful, yet extremely well balanced.

In summary: Overall, rates four stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  Given the $$ price category, this is a best buy.

Following long decant, three days kept cool in partially-filled bottle:   Sweet, black, seductive fruit  enveloped by warm oak on the nose.  Palate is just a bit brighter, carrying more red fruit.
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Find prices and retail availability for Cameron Hughes wines.

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