Costco

Interview with wine negociant Cameron Hughes

If you’ve ever bought wine at Costco, you’ve most surely come across Cameron Hughes Wine Lot Series.  Cameron has built a formidable brand out of rescuing high end “orphans” and repurposing them for the value driven consumer who appreciates high quality wine.

Cameron was recently in Scottsdale, Arizona for a wine dinner at Tommy V’s Urban Grille, with tickets being sold exclusively through select Costco’s.  I managed to sit down with Cameron for a few minutes and asked him about his business model, production levels and future plans, as well has his prognostication for what wine region may be “hot” in 2013.

Cameron Hughes Wine website

Photos from the wine dinner on the Weekly Wine Journal Facebook Page

Wine Review | Cameron Hughes Lot 200

Cameron Hughes Wine, Lot 200, 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Alcohol: 14.5%

Napa Valley Cabernet

It is important to drink the whole bottle when reviewing wine

Production: 4,000 Cases

Price: $28 Retail

Before you rush out and buy this wine you need to ask yourself a few questions:  Am I a wine connoisseur or a casual drinker?  Am I familiar with the Cameron Hughes story and business model.  Why ask these questions?  Because it’s important to understand that this wine, Lot 200 is quite unlike the rest of the wines you might find in the grocery store.  This is a serious, SERIOUS wine.  What does that even mean?  It means it would be a complete waste of this wine to buy it, take it home pop the cork and without decanting pour yourself a glass and pair it with some steak you bought for $4 a pound at your local grocer.  This is the kind of wine that you would buy several cases of, put them in a PROPER wine fridge and hold on to them for the next 10 years.  And when you decide to enjoy it, you would treat it like a FINE wine.  This means serve it at the correct temperature, allow adequate decanting, drinking it out of the proper stemware, preferably your Riedel.  Otherwise what you are doing is the equivalent of buying a Lamborghini and then driving up to the Circle K to buy some scratch and wins.

Moreover, this wine is still in its infancy and will age gracefully for many years to come, so buying just one bottle next week will not give you the pleasure of experiencing it throughout its life cycle. This is something that is just not possible with $10 wine. In fact right now it is barely ready to drink, but if you are a connoisseur you will be able to tell what it is capable of.  If you are a casual drinker it is unlikely you will appreciate this wine.  Does this sound like elitism or wine snobbery? Maybe, but I’m hoping its helpful for you as the reader of this post in determining whether or not you are going to spend the money and buy several dozen bottles of Lot 200.

Now that we’ve asked ourselves a few questions, lets take a look at Lot 200.

This wine is sourced from 3 of Napa Valley’s most well known sub regions: Stag’s Leap, Rutherford and Oakville.  In a recent video post on his website Cameron Hughes states that the winery he acquired this wine from does not sell a bottle of wine for under $200 a bottle and has multiple 100 point scores.  So once again, we’re not dealing with the level of wine most casual consumers are used to dealing with.

On the nose hints of plum and Cassis, the palate is currently displaying significant amounts of star anise and dark chocolate as well as plummy tannins.  Right now this wine is just too young, it is not ready to enjoy to its fullest, although I really did enjoy drinking the bottle, this wine is going to get significantly better over the next year, so some patience and proper storage conditions are a must.

Note:  I purchased this wine with my own hard earned cash

Purchase Lot 200 HERE (Cameron Hughes Website)

Wine Review | Cameron Hughes Lot 188

Cameron Hughes Lot 188, 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Chalk Hill Sonoma County

Alcohol: 14.5%Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Production: 7,500 cases

Price: $16 retail

This wine is sourced from the same vineyard/winery as Lot 73 and Lot 140 in the Chalk Hill area of Sonoma County.  Cameron Hughes Wine secured all of the Cabernet coming off  this 500+ acre vineyard which is the source for over 20 ultra premium brands.  The winery who held this Cabernet contract previously was selling their wine for $60 a bottle.

On the nose,  gentle aromas of raspberries and blackberries.  The palate has a rich mouthfeel with fine chalk like tannins.  NOTE: the wine does not taste like chalk!  Great balance of acidity tannins and fruit, and a decent finish make this wine a heck of a deal for $16 online, or $13.99 at select Costco’s.  If you enjoyed Lot 140 you will really enjoy Lot 188.  It’s just a little bigger and bolder, but equally ready to drink, a “pop and pour” wine as they say.  Although, with just a little decanting this wine will taste even better.  Cameron Hughes says this is a great “go to” wine…I agree.  It’s a great weekly drinker, a great wine if you’re suddenly in the mood for wine and don’t have hours to wait for the wine to decant.