Saturday, April 13, 2013

Updated Review : **** $$ Cameron Hughes Lot 241 Syrah Grenache Mourvedre (GSM), Arroyo Seco, Monterey County, California, 2009 (BEST VALUE)

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By way of background, opening thoughts:  Cameron Hughes is a negociant, a wine producer who obtains grapes and/or wines from various locations, seeking to create high-value offerings.  This one is a Cotes du Rhone style red blend, identified as one of Jess' picks.  Review sample was obtained from Cameron Hughes.

Original tasting and review , June, 2011: This is Cameron Hughes Lot 241 Syrah Grenache Mourvedre (GSM), Arroyo Seco, Monterey County, California, 2009, finished at 14.3% alcohol.  It is 52% syrah, 44% grenache, 2% mourvedre and 2% carignane.

In the glass: CH Lot 241 shows as deep red, with a light violet cast.

On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, shows sweet and deep fruit with a charcoal oakiness. Solid aromatics, even evoking elements of a deep Sonoma pinot noir.  From the aroma, seems like this will be black fruity and perhaps bright.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact a substantial dark fruit on the palate, supported by ample tannins which lift a softer, surrounding sweetness.  Elements of cocoa powder and coffee come through, but with just enough cream and sugar to make them tasty and not harsh.  The acids are potent enough to keep the finish keen, on track and lengthy. 

In summary: Overall, solid, deep, red berry experience, with power and balance, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a big plus for its layered balance. Comes very close to four stars, and I can see that as a possibility with longer decant or some bottle age.   Good value based on the Spirit of Wine criteria.

Following long decant, three hours in decanter at room temperature:  Nose and palate are holding up extremely well.  No significant changes.  And even longer decant, five days kept cool in partially-filled bottle:  Consistent nose, with charcoal now subdued.  On the palate, the soft sweetness knits with the darker tannins and deep fruit for a rich, layered experience, now touching four stars.  Makes this a "best value", and the success of the long decant suggests this will do very well with additional storage time in the bottle as well. 
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Updated review, almost two years later, March, 2013:  Rich, medium red in the glass now, at four years from vintage date.  Consistent, balanced, sweet and rich aromatics, full of violets with hints of deep structure.  The description of the palate from two years ago is almost exactly on target today, with the exception that the palate is so well-knitted that it still generates an easy four stars, even at this age.  This a crazy, awesome value at a very attractive Cameron Hughes price point.

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