2005 Cameron Hughes Lot 44 Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford $13
Run to Costco my friends, do not walk. You will not find another easy going-everyday-drinking Cabernet at this price point for a long, long time. What a phenomenal deal this is. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. There will not be another release.
So how is a Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley being sold for $13 you might ask? Well that’s an interesting story.
Cameron Hughes does not own vineyards, have a winery tasting room to visit or even ferment wine. He is a San Francisco businessman turned wine guy who has founded a company eradicating the middleman (distributor) and offering great wines for bargain prices. Cool Cameron, we wine folk like that.
Why are his wines great?
Well, Cameron has an interesting way of sourcing these wines. The Lot Series of wine (as you see above) is purchased as already fermented wine from high-end wineries; in this case the Rutherford Appellation of Napa Valley. In Cameron’s words, “these wines are preserved by bottling the wine unadulterated and never backblended to fix flaws”. More awesomeness here.
In other words, this wine is currently being sold by a high-quality, premium winery for a premium price in Napa Valley but under a different label. Word has it that Lot 44 is currently retailing for around $45 per bottle and has received accolades from Wine Spectator of 90-92 points over the last several years from a high-end, quality driven winery.
So how can this be done? I think the answer has to do with available quantity.
When you are producing a high-end wine product you work with lots of available fermented juice to assemble your final blend. At the end of the process you have available wine left over that goes onto the bulk market for sale. Cameron Hughes has based his business model on picking up these bulk, high-end wines, bottling them and selling them directly to the retailer for nearly a quarter of the cost. Wow!
So this allows a higher quality product to be sold at a much lower price.
This is how the wine business is really changing. It’s a brilliant idea and the market has room for this type of innovative style and out-of-the box thinking.
So let’s talk about this particular wine, Lot 44.
I want to start off by saying that this a medium-bodied red wine. It is NOT a wine that has layers and layers of complexity and depth that many of the stellar Cabernets from Rutherford posses.
But you have to remember that wine with extreme depth and character require aging for up to ten years before it is smooth and fairly drinkable. Let’s face it, most wine that is purchased is consumed within days so it’s difficult, unless you are collector, to lay down these bottles and give them the time they deserve to age properly.
This wine is drinkable now. It’s smooth now. It is extremely food-friendly and all around enjoyable. It is pleasing on the palate and is the quintessential bottle to have for all your daily wine adventures.
This is a wine you pull out for a chicken dinner or a nice steak on the grill. It would be fabulous with pasta and even better for a casual pizza night. This is a wine you know you can turn to and not feel the guilt of opening on a Tuesday night.
And I don’t know about you but my wine rack is becoming quite light in the California Cabernet area due to the extreme cost of these wines.
Every night I have a staring contest with some of these $130 bottles that sit on the shelf and beg to be consumed but I can’t get myself to open them. I feel it has to be the perfect occasion which never seems to come around often enough.
This bottle offered me all the glimpses of characters I enjoy in a Rutherford Cabernet; hints of clove, spice, tobacco with a pronounced chocolate note.
However, what stood out the most was the minerality and earthy tones that came screaming out of the glass. The Rutherford appellation is most known for it’s wines alluding to the, “Rutherford dust” character that exists there. This wine gives you that dusty earth in very certain terms. It’s all there, just not in overwhelming expression.
I am going to fill my wine rack with this Cabernet and use it as my go to red. My usual go to California Cabernet is $45 a bottle, which is cheap by some standards for wine from this region but let’s face it, that is not cheap in any sense of the word.
I would also highly suggest this bottle for someone who is interested in learning to enjoy drinking red wine. The shyness of the tannins in this wine (tannins are associated with red wine consumption and often difficult for someone new to drinking red wine), are hidden among the toasty oak and mocha overtones allowing a novice palate to enjoy the varietal character present.
If you are having a large get together this summer, wedding shower, family reunion or a birthday blowout, this is the wine to buy. It will please those with sophisticated palates as well as those who are not so wine savvy. This is not a heavy red wine, so consuming it in the warmer summer months will not be a problem when served at the proper temperature.
And one more thing. This wine, Lot 44, impressed Costco buyers so much, they bought the entire Lot and are selling it exclusively at their stores. So like I said, run my friends, run.
No Costco in your area? Don’t worry, Cameron Hughes has other available wines all with the same premise as Lot 44, all bought from high-end producers and they are sold all over the U.S. and most likely elsewhere for great, great prices.
Some to look for in your area:
Lot 43 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Lot 46 Hunter Valley Shiraz
Lot 49 Priorat D. O. Q.
Lot 50 Mosel Riesling
Lot 53 Edna Valley Syrah
Lot 54 St. Emilion
Lot 57 Carneros Chardonnay
Lot 59 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
So good luck finding these!
So tell me, what did you have to drink last night? Anything interesting?