There are numerous ways that wine gets bottled and ends up on your local shelf. Most people envision a system where one winery grows the grapes, crushes them, ages them, bottles, and sells them. Of course that's the way a lot of wines, particularly premium ones, get to your shelf. But of course there are other ways. In Europe, France especially there are many négociant's. A négociant purchases grapes from other growers and sells them under his or her, own label. Cameron Hughes is a California based négociant. And while that is his base of operations, he sources lots of wine from numerous regions, the world over. Most often a well regarded winery or grower might be selling a finished product which Cameron Hughes Wine bottles or packages. Sometimes they take separate sources and blend them to come up with a unique and perhaps better wine. The goal in each case is to offer a superior product for significantly less than it would cost if it had the original producer or growers name. There are many reasons someone might be selling wine instead of bottling it themselves. In a great vintage they might simply have more juice than they're prepared, or bonded to produce. Regardless of the reason Cameron Hughes Wine, and consumers are the beneficiaries.
Each offering from Cameron Hughes Wine is given a lot number. Over the next several weeks I'll look at a number of different lots. Today I'll look at one of their new release Chardonnays.
Cameron Hughes 2007 Lot 87 Chardonnay is a blend of Alexander Valley (75%) and Russian River (25%) fruit. 8,000 cases of this offering were produced and the suggested retail price is $12. This selection is an example of the folks at Cameron Hughes blending two existing lots from the same producer to form their own blend.
The nose of this Chardonnay is filled with apple and pear notes; underscored by subtle vanilla tones. The palate is soft and lush, filled with mouth-filling, yet gentle fruit. The finish of this Chardonnay lingers with more pear notes, white pepper, nutmeg, and overall tingly spice notes. This is an impeccably balanced wine with terrific acidity. It'll drink nicely on its own, as well as pair well with a wide array of foods.
There are two things that are most obvious to me about this Chardonnay. First and foremost it's a terrific and pure expression of Sonoma County Chardonnay. Secondly this wine is an absolute steal. The $12 price tag is a joke. This wine is easily a $30 Chardonnay. If you love excellent, fruit driven Chardonnay from Sonoma County, buy a case of this and drink it all year.