Stag’s Leap

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 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)