Cameron Hughes

Review | Cameron Hughes Lot 515

Cameron Hughes Lot 515 wine bottle

Cameron Hughes Lot 515

Cameron Hughes Lot 515 | 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine hails from Monte Rosso vineyard in Sonoma Valley A.V.A. which is located in Sonoma County A.V.A.  Searching around on the internet you won’t find much on Monte Rosso vineyard like a company website and social media accounts.  But you will find that a lot of other producers source their fruit from this vineyard.  According to Hughes “Monte Rosso has perhaps been the greatest source for Cabernet in Sonoma County.”  That’s a pretty bold statement.  Let’s take a look at some of the other producers sourcing fruit from the vineyard: Louis Martini – Monte Rosso Cabernet. 92 points Robert Parker $85 (2010). Arrowood – Monte Rosso Cabernet. 93 points Wine Advocate and $80 (2009)

That’s impressive.  And then there’s Cameron Hughes.  This wine retails for $32 on his website, with a total production of just 500 cases.  Lot 515 is a blend of 95% Cabernet, 3% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot and weighs in at a whopping 15.4% alcohol.

The wine is dense and dark and so packed with fruit that over the course of the 3 nights I sampled this wine, the only time I noticed heat was on the last few sips, and even that wasn’t all that unpleasant.  There are some nice mineral notes interlaced in with the predominately blackberry and licorice palate.

The nice thing about this wine is that although it may get better with age, it is really very much a drink now kind of wine.  You won’t be committing wine infanticide by drinking this wine withing the next few years.  Especially if you’ve been used to Cabernets from Napa.  I’m a huge fan of Napa cabs, but Lot 515 is definitely a wine I can appreciate.

Weekly Wine Journal rating 93 points

*wine purchased with my own hard earned $$.



Wine Review | Cameron Hughes Lot 197, 2008 Merlot, Napa Valley

Disclaimer:  I was given a signed bottle as a gift, by Jessica Hughes, who clearly states that I ROCK!

Alrighty then, with that technical matter out of the way lets get down to business.

Napa Valley Merlot

It's official: I rock

Lot 197 hails from the Carneros area of Napa Valley, although it does not state this on the label, Cameron mentions it on his website.  Production for this wine is a miniscule 518 cases and the wine retails for $12 a bottle.

Though I would not call myself a big Merlot drinker, this is definitely a Merlot I could get used to.  It is a big monster of a Merlot, with alcohol coming in at a whopping 15.3%.   A big whiff reveals a bit of an alcoholic burn in the nostrils, but that is nicely evened out by the aromas of red berry fruit.  On the palate this wine is ripe, which has more to do with the alcohol % than sugar.  The palate consists of ripe black cherry and chocolate.   The alcohol content is certainly going to be an issue for some people, and it usually is for me, but this wine is an exception.  The fruit and the smooth tannins, really play well with the alcohol which enhances the aromatics as well.  And for $12 it’s definitely a deal.  I paired this wine with a tomato based pasta sauce seasoned with cayenne.  The heat of the sauce really played well against the ripeness of the wine.

Rating: 89 points

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.

Wine Review: Cameron Hughes Lot 143, 2007 Howell Mountain District, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


90% Cabernet, 6% Tempranillo, 4% Syrah

Alcohol 14.9%

$22 online only (only 10 cases left as of January 13th, 2010) ya I bought it with my own money.

From the company literature:  “Rich mulberry color with the fragerance of violets and Cassis. The nose quickly opens to aromas of ripe plums and savory roasts with a  subtle background of cigar box.  On the palate are juicy and penetrating flavors of currants, rose petal and earth layered with an opulence of wild dark fruit.”

I like to first taste the wines and then read the company literature to compare the two.  Firstly, is that not an awesome description?  Yes it is Tim.  It is an awesome description because it is extremely accurate.  Do ever wonder what kind of psychedelics wine description writers were on when they come up with their descriptions?  Well not to worry with Lot 143. It’s bang on.

It is another one of Cameron Hughes’ mind-blowing steals, coming from a $95 bottle program that consistently scored in the mid 90’s!

So yes, Violets on the nose and Cassis, ripe fruit on the palate and a little bit of earth on the back-end, not a lot, just a nice little bit.  Complex, multi layered, beautiful knock your socks off wine.  I paired it with Filet Mignon and the Arizona Cardinals playoff victory over Green Bay, followed by a late night viewing of The Big Lebowski. Dude, if I hadn’t already blown The Weekly Wine Journal’s budget for wine this quarter I would be buying a case of Lot 143.

Wine Review: Cameron Hughes Lot 146, 2006 Diamond Mountain District, Napa Valley

From the Company Literature:  “Deep crimson center with a  matching rim; A focused nose of blackberries and Cassis.  A pronounced mid-palate follows ripe, tender fruit, and notable acidity.  Tannins are firm yet balanced, displaying a full-body and dense structure…distinctive depth and viscosity provide a long, complex finish and fleshy mouth feel.”

Production: 980 cases

$22 online only

I had no idea what to expect from Lot 146 as I did not read the literature before tasting it.  I was impatient and only decanted for about 10 minutes before the first swirl.

On the nose blackberries and Cassis, yes.  The nose is not over powering.   The first sip was not what I expected and really surprised me in a good way.  I thought the wine would have been a lot drier.  Lot 146  was tenaciously sweet at first and so I let it breath another 30 minutes.  After it had opened up the sweetness had subsided to a ripe fruit.  The mid palate is definitely pronounced.  Powerful ripe fruit backed up by a Phalanx of tannins lead into a sensual and glutenous finish.  Lot 146 is sexy! The kind of sexy that you just can’t find in a $15 bottle of California Cabernet.  And now I know why:  Lot 146  was sourced from a $90 program. Good thing I bought 3 bottles!


Wine Review: Cameron Hughes Lot 100, 2006 Stag’s Leap Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon

Appellation:  88% Stag’s Leap, 9% Coombsville, 3% Mount Veeder

Grape: 97% Cabernet, 3% Petite Verdot

Production: 4,000 Cases

$21 online, and available at select Costco’s for under $20.

From the company literature: “…almost pitch black with a red rim.  Classically beautiful notes of cassis, raspberry, and blackberry in an intense nose are echoed on the palate…chewy fine tannins…a rich and powerful cuvee.  Structurally dense…excellent aging potential.

This wine really wows me.  Not because it smacks me in the face saying “Hey I’m a big monster cab!” .  It wows me because of its grace.  And also because has anyone ever heard of a Stag’s Leap Napa Valley cabernet for anything close to this price??  Lot 100 is a serious wine, decant it for an hour to let it open up.  Pair it with a nice juicy steak, drink it slowly over the course of the night, or if you can’t pace yourself be sure to get the second bottle ready before hand.  Out of all the Cameron Hughes Wines I’ve tried lately this one is the most ready to drink.  It will age, but it certainly doesn’t need any more time in the bottle.  I ordered a few bottles just before Christmas and then I ordered another couple on New Year’s Eve and I am drinking it while I am writing this post…sip..mmmm.  I just went online to order some more and it’s SOLD OUT! OH NOOOO!! I really should have bought a case.  You see, I have plenty of wines that I am holding on to, wines that actually need aging to be enjoyed, but I don’t have a lot that I can drink now.  And I don’t really want to spend $50 to $100 a bottle for a decent bottle of wine once a month.  Sure I could buy a case of $10 to $15 wine and make do…but it’s pretty tough to do that when you’ve been spoiled.  C’est la vie.  Really kicking myself though. Anyways if you happen to be cruising through a Costco and notice any Cameron Hughes Lot 100 do yourself a favor and buy a case.  Actually you should probably cash out of your stocks and buy 5 or 10 cases.  I think Charles Schwab would say that is a good strategy for retirement.

4 Awesome Wines under $20

The down-turn in the economy has provided me with some amazing opportunities to try high-end wines.  The metro-Phoenix area has been hit very hard by the recession.  A lot of grocery stores and warehouse stores have reduced their high-end wine inventories, slashed prices, and replaced the floor space with things that people might buy more of in a recession.  Things like bread and vegetables, instead of second-growth Bordeaux.

As a result I have been able to pick up some of these $50-$100 wines for about half price, and I have been reviewing and enjoying them.  It occurred to me last week that not everyone can get their hands on these mark-downs. I decided to balance out my reviewing with some great under $20 bargains.

So, just in time for the Christmas season, here are some awesome wines under $20


Cameron Hughes, Lot 140, 2007, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chalk Hill, Sonoma County.  $13.99 at select Costco’s.

On the nose: Raspberry,  Bing cherry and Anise.

On the Palate: Cocoa and a hint of mint

See my review of it full review of it here .




Next up is d’Arenberg’s “Laughing Magpie”

one the nose: floral notes with cranberry and cherries

on the palate:  Ripe and juicy, velvety mouth-feel

full review here

$18.99 at Costco


And thirdly, just to switch things up a little bit (I have been reviewing mostly reds)  it’s a Sauvignon Blanc from Titus Vineyards:

Deliciously smooth with ripe fruit and well balanced acidity, more on this wine here.

It’s $20 on their website and most wineries websites are a little higher than the average retail, so you could probably find it cheaper than $20 at a retail outlet.  But you’ll have to be quick about it, there were only 380 cases made!


And last but not least:  Chalone Vineyard Monterey Cabernet, 2007

$16.99 retail, although with coupons and discounts I ended up paying about $7.56 a bottle

13.5% alcohol, vanilla oak, well balanced oak and fruit, see full review here