Atlas Peak

Cameron Hughes Wines | A Revolutionary Wine Business Model

Wine bottlesThose of you that read my blog know that Cameron Hughes wines are nothing new to me.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Cameron Hughes label, do yourself a favor and read the recent Wall Street Journal article titled Taking advantage of the wine glut.

Cameron Hughes has undertaken an innovative business model, buying up the excess supply of high-end winery’s wine at a bargain basement price. The Cameron Hughes label is then slapped on the bottle and sold for a fraction of the price to retailers across the states. Hughes has taken advantage of the current over supply in California to build a reputation for quality, affordability, and entrepreneurial prowess.  The 2008 Cameron Hughes Lot 200 Napa Valley Cabernet really takes his business model to the next level.

Lot 200 Label

Lot 200, $200 Juice?

The fruit for this monster Napa Cab comes from three of Napa’s most prestigious sub appellations: Stag’s Leap, Rutherford and Oakville. On his website Cameron gives just a glimpse of who’s juice this maybe.  He had to sign a 3 page Non-Disclosure Agreement which left very little left to say except that the people he acquired this wine from do not sell a bottle of wine for under $200 and have multiple 100 point scores under their belts.  This wine was available for $27 on the Chwine.com website but sold out in a matter of weeks when Costco bought almost ALL of the 4,000 cases produced!

lot 182 label

Lot 182, 4 years in shiners

Another outstanding value is Lot 182 Atlas Peak Meritage.  As the story goes there was a mix up in this deal and the labels had already been printed when Cameron discovered that this Meritage was actually 90% Cabernet and could have been sold as an Atlas Peak Cab, but c’est la vie!  This wine was purchased in shiners and had been minding its own business in a cellar for 4 years before being released.  It is drinking really well right now, and I use it as my go to “pop and pour” wine.

The Cameron Hughes production model has been able to thrive in a time when California wines have suffered, becoming less fashionable during the shaky economic climate of the past couple years. California 2009 retail wine sales were down about 3%.  Have you tried any Cameron Hughes Wines or any American wine negociants?

More Reviews:

Lot 200

Lot 182

Wine Review | Cameron Hughes Lot 182, 2005 Meritage, Atlas Peak

Cameron Hughes Lot 182, 2005 Meritage, Atlas Peak

2005 Atlas Peak Cameron Hughes Meritage

90% Cabernet

There is a kind of funny, unofficial story behind the labeling on this wine.  The blend is 90% Cabernet, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot.  Technically this wine could have been called a Cabernet.  But as the story goes, there was a mix up and the labels had already been made.

Total production for Lot 182 is only 1,700 cases, and rather unusual to this acquisition is the fact that the wine was purchased in shiners (unlabeled bottles) that had been cellar aged for 4 years.  And speaking of the bottles, these bottles are taller and heavier in weight than most.  The extra aging has an amazing effect on this mountain fruit.  It is ripe and rich with loads of Blueberry, Cassis and Blackberry.  The tannins are firm and fine, and the finish is rich and chocolaty.  According to Cameron this wine was aged in 40% new French Oak.  Alcohol comes in at 14.5%  At $15 this is a ridiculously low price for a wine that is really starting to reach is prime right now.

Rating: 93 points.