good wine under $20

Wine Review | Cameron Hughes Lot 172

Cameron Hughes Lot 172 | 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak, Napa Valley

I bought this wine for about $19 on a recent trip to Costco.

Lot 172 wine bottle

Cameron Hughes Wine Lot 172

It is a little pricier than most of Cameron’s Wines, but in my experience that means its going to be an amazing wine.  Maybe it’s a self fulfilling prophecy, and probably not a good way to start an “objective” wine review but that’s how I roll!

First lets look at the technicals for Lot 172:  The blend is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec, with 95% of the fruit being sourced from Atlas Peak and 5% from Napa Valley.  The alcohol content is 14.9% and production was 4,000 cases.

Lot 172 wine image picture

Lot 172 in the glass

On the nose:  Black fruits and a little vanilla oak.  On the palate: Rich and young, typical of mountain fruit. The tannins are mouth puckering yet not out of balance with the other aspects of the wine, though if you are not a fan of big tannins you should decant for several hours and/or cellar this wine for a while.  The fruit on the palate is predominantly blackberry/blueberry with black tea tannins and more vanilla notes.  If you are a fan of big bold California Cabernet’s that are slightly less ripe than the typical valley floor wines, this is the wine for you.  This is a wine made for a big juicy grilled steak.

Recent accolades for Lot 172 include a Double Gold medal at the Long Beach Grand Cru and a 92 point rating from Wine Enthusiast.  Not surprisingly this wine is now sold out online and can only be found at select Costco’s.

Wine Review: 90 Plus Cellars Lot 17, 2007, Merlot, Napa Valley

90 Plus Cellars is a relative new comer to the negociant business.  Their niche is centered on buying up the excess finished wines which have scored 90 points or more, and reselling them at a discount under their own label.  Which brings us to…

90+ Cellars Merlot (Lot 17)

Blend: 81% Merlot 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc

Aging: 12 months in 1/3 New French Oak

The wine retails for $13.99.  It was made from 100% Napa fruit.  That is a good start in my books.  I popped the cork, and let it breathe in the decanter for an hour.

On the nose I detected black currants and subtle oak.

The palate revealed black cherries and at first it was a pretty straight forward wine.  Nothing special, nothing off putting, just okay.  I let it breathe more.  It was worth the wait.  After about 3 hours the richness  opened up revealing plummy tannins.  It reminded me a little of the Bordeaux style, especially later on.  The Rich chewy and young tannins were nice but not overpowering.  At first I thought this was more of a pasta Merlot, but later on  it could have paired well with meats aswell.

The verdict:  A good value at $14.  The wine benefits from a little patience and decanting

This wine was received as a sample

Check out my interview with 90 Plus Cellars here

Visit 90 Plus Cellars website here

Wine Review: Tait 2008 Barossa Valley, The Ball Buster

I saw this wine in Costco and I wondered if I should give it a try.  I’m weary of wines with outrageous or edgy names.  I picked up a bottle and read the back label, and there I noticed the alcohol content: 16%!  Okay what the hell its only $15, I’ll give it a try.  I had it in my fridge for a few weeks before I could get around to trying it out, and Friday night seemed like the right night.  It was a busy hectic day, an end to my first week back from my vacation to Vancouver, British Columbia where I “experienced” the men’s gold medal hockey game.  That means I watched the game in a casino right next to the stadium.  I poured the wine in my decanter and then decided to run some errands while the wine opened up.  I returned 3 hours later!  And ready to drink some wine too!

The Blend: 76% Shiraz, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot

Tait, The Ball Buster

Alcohol: 16%

Where from?:  Barossa Valley, Australia

The nose: slight cigar box, licorice, cherry.  The nose was not incredibly aromatic, even after 3 hours in the decanter.

The Palate:  Here’s where this wine got really interesting.  Right away I noticed the incredible texture.  This wine has the consistency of heavy cream, incredibly silky almost slippery, weighty. The next thing I was hit with was how concentrated the fruit was.  Almost like a liqueur with a very ripe blackberry flavor.  Then I noticed the tannins, which were quite well-rounded.  I expected the tannins to be chewy and out of control for some reason, but they are actually quite soft for such a big wine.  One thing that is absent from this wine is the earthiness that some Barossa valley Shiraz’s have.  That can be good or bad depending on how “earthy” or funky you like the aroma of your wine to be.  Personally, I can go either way, as long as it’s in balance.

The Finish:  Powerful almost Port like with licorice and chocolate.  Surprisingly less heat than one would expect from a 16% wine.

Conclusion:  I would recommend this wine to anyone that says they like the big bold fruit forward styles of Shiraz and Zinfandel.