Victor Hugo Winery in Paso Robles is a family run operation with a focus on red wines. The one exception is an elegant Viogner that they make each year. They work with all of the red Bordeaux varietals in addition to Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah. In addition to being rich and lush what is most readily apparent about their wines is that they are well balanced. Alcohol, acidity and upfront fruit are all in check with each other. In addition to their varietal bottlings Victor Hugo Winery makes two blends. One is Opulence a Meritage/Bordeaux style blend and the other is The Hunchback. Both of these vary each year as they strive to find the best blends to make a great wine. The Hunchback blend seems to vary more significantly from year to year. The 2005 version is 50% Merlot, 20% Syrah, 15% Petite Verdot and 15% Cabernet Franc.
Even though it's only 15% of the blend the Cabernet Franc is the first thing that stood out to me in the 2005 Hunchback. As is often the case, Cabernet Franc lends itself to a big, inviting nose. In this case it comes in the form of candied blueberry and plum aromas. The first sip reveals a potpourri of spice along with dark berry fruit notes. There are soft but firm tannins on the mid-palate which soften further with 30 minutes or so of decanting. Once the Hunchback opens up further it reveals some mouth filling black cherry flavors and a finish laced with tingly white pepper. Once it breathes a bit the Hunchback has no hard edges, just smooth enjoyable drink-ability. The Hunchback is built for food. it's a medium bodied red that will stand up to meats and cheeses but won't overwhelm lighter fare either.The tannic structure it does have suggests to me that it will improve even more over the next couple of years and drink well for three to five. At a retail price of $15.00 the Hunchback is well worth every penny.
I'm a huge fan of the Victor Hugo Winery offerings and encourage anyone who has a chance to seek their wines out.