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Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

Blind Tasting with the wines of Cameron Hughes, and then some.

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Nov 11, 2008.

I was pleased to welcome a few friends into the Snooth lair yesterday for a blind tasting featuring the wines of Cameron Hughes. If you are a Snooth member you will be getting an email with an amazing deal on these wines later this week. If you're not a member you should sign up now.

These wines showed very well and the groups consensus matched mine fairly well so I'll spare you the extended discussion of the wine, offering up my opinion instead, but I will grace this page with photos of the participants. Many thanks to them. From left to right Michel Abood, Jorge Henriquez, Zachary Lang, and Peter Czyryca with your humble scribe's back, front and center.

The first wine up was the Cameron Hughes Lot 92 Margaret River Chardonnay which married some nice crisp fruit to spiced and slightly sweet toasty oak notes. A solid showing even though we blew through it on our way to the reds.

Jorge and Zach share a laugh

I served the reds in three blind flights of three wines each. For the first flight I chose to pit two of Cameron Hughes Spanish offerings against the 2006 Quivira Grenache from California. The first wine up was the Cameron Hughes Grenache Campo de Borja Lot 98  which was a big, simple fruit bomb that didn't find much love in this group of affirmed winegeeks. It is a fine wine for any festive occasion, bursting with sweet berry fruit in a soft package that is very accessable if not particualrly challenging.

This was contrasted against the Cameron Hughes Tempranillo Lot 93 . If the Compo de Borja was a wine for people just getting into wine this Tempranillo is a wine for people who have arrived. Showing incredible power and concentration this was just a fantastic bottle of wine, interesting and bold if perhaps slightly atypical for a simple Crianza. In fact this drank much more like one the the more expensive new-age Riojas, only better. the fine structure of the wine balanced the deep fruit and left this wine lively and deep, a fine combination.

The final wine in this flight was the 2006 Quivira Grenache . This really was in a differnet register offering up youthful and crisp fruits but with the high alcohol, 15.9%, just a little too obvious on the nose.

Michel, thinking in French.

We moved from Spain to California with the next flight beginning with the  2006 Ravenswood Lodi Zinfandel , which was fine if undistinguished.

The second wine in this flight was the Cameron Hughes Lot 86 Lodi Zinfandel 80 Year old Vines and I think it's fair to say that this wine  impressed us all with it's balance, depth, and purity. While it may not have been varietal enough to convince everyone that it was a Zin during the blind portion of the tasting, it was an incredibly likable wine which I thought spoke more of it's old vines than anything else. The combination of those wooly tannins and finely balanced, perfectly ripe, juicy fruit was appealing and while this Zin shows a bit of restraint it is more than exuberant enough to put a smile on every Zin lover's face.

The final wine in the line-up was the 2005 Montevina Terra d'Oro Lodi Zinfandel . While this lacked the oomph of the Lot 86 it offered a respectable array of fruit and spice flavors in a very easy drinking package.

Peter, gesticulating in English

We remained in California with our final flight and it was fairly obvious to all that we had moved on to Cabernet and Bordeaux blends, especially when they peeked at the wines while I went to get another pitcher of water! We began with the Merlot dominated Cameron Hughes Lot 72 Napa Valley Meritage . Rich and soft with nuanced herbaceous and chile tones from the one third Cabernet in the blend this was elegant, easy and expressive, a fine wine for near-term consumption and one that would please a wide audience.

We followed this with a wine from Cieniga Valley, a new appellation for the entire group. The 2003 Pietra Santa Cabernet Sauvignon was a pleasant surprise offering up classic cool climate Cabernet notes with an intriguing mineral rich core of fruit. This was deceptively light apon opening and really filled out with sweet fruit through the course of the evening. A winery worth a look if you are searching for a distinctive California Cabernet from a new, and up and coming region.

Our final wine of this flight was the Cameron Hughes  Lot 75 Oak Knoll Cabernet Sauvignon . This is just a great bottle of Napa cabernet, coming from the cooler, southerly Oak Knoll District . While this took some time to open it showed excellent potential for positive development and with air this just blossomed, offering up rich, ripe fruit in a restained package with just a hint of austerity that kept this both easy to drink and a fine match for a broad array of dishes. I was impressed with the wine but now that I see it's only $13.00 a bottle I am blown away by the value this represents. I've had a lot of $13.00 bottles of California Cabernet over the past few years, too many some might say, and the truth is I have almost never been tempted to buy any. This Oak Knoll Cabernet easily competes with wines twice it's price. Find it, buy it, enjoy it,

Me, counting in Italian

Work is almost done!

Well that was our blind tasting, we then moved on to dinner at a local Cuban joint and started the drinking portion of our show. I won't bore you with the details of the evening but should you be interested I am including a list of wines we enjoyed last night. And if you want to be included in a future blind tasting please send me an Email at Let me know what you are interested in and I'll find a spot for you in an upcoming blind tasting panel!

1976 Latricieres Chambertin Camille Giroud 82pts

2007 Reinhard & Beate Knebel Winninger Brückstück Riesling Spätlese Feinherb Alte Reben 88pts

2007 Pannonhalmi Apátsági Pincészet Tramini 85pts

1992 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Tokay Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl 92pts

2007 Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese 91pts

1999 St. Innocent Freedom Hill Pinot Noir 87pts

1975 Ridge Petite Sirah York Creek Spring Mountain District 95pts

2005 The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate 88pts

2007 Ventura D - Vina do Burato Ribeira Sacra   91pts

2004 Lillian Syrah 82pts

2002 Potel Nuits St. Georges Pruliers 89pts

2005 Domaine Simon Bize et Fils Savigny les Beaune les Guettes 91pts

1993 Felsina Fontalloro 87pts

Gregory Dal Piaz is the Community Manager at  Snooth , an avid Wine Geek with a passion for things Italian, and a long suffering Mets fan.   


Reply by Vinotas, Nov 11, 2008.


Thanks for including me in this fun if poorly-numbered (you Italians!) tasting. I was pleasantly surprised overall at the Cameron Hughes wines, and I think they represent some pretty good QPRs for those getting into wine or looking for something easy to drink. From a professional point of view, I'm terribly jealous and have already started calling in some favors to ensure the principals at CH meet with some convenient "accidents".

Reply by Adam Levin, Nov 11, 2008.

Looks like a great event. I give this 87pts on the jealous-i-was-not-there-o-meter.

Blog comment by Dan, Nov 12, 2008.

Greg, curious how you come up with the number ratings for these wines and how would that translate to Snooth rankings ?

Reply by Philip James, Nov 12, 2008.

Dan - I think you might be reading the blog entries via email? If you read them online you can click on any of the wines and see how greg compares a 90 point rating to the snooth glass system.

Blog comment by gregory, Nov 12, 2008.

Hey Dan, Well the point scores are mine. I base them on typicity, complexity and pleasure, as well as the little know, how empty is the bottle bonus point.

The translation into Snooth ranking is not linear. The Snooth rank is really based on how much one likes the wine. I can freely admit to finding excellent, typical wines that I don't necessarily enjoy. My numerical rating is an attempt at a less emotional rating while the Snooth rank is almost all about emotion.

I hope that addresses your question but if not let's I'd be happy to follow this up.

Blog comment by Dan, Nov 12, 2008.

Philip and Greg,

Thanks for the replies. I did read online and I did click through. I was just wondering since there was numerical ratings on a 5-star website, if those stars had a new numerical equivalent ? Seemed a bit of a first glance disconnect. But Greg summed it up nicely.

Reply by Eric Guido, Nov 14, 2008.

Hey Greg

Was this the second day tasting of these bottles or a fresh bunch that was opened?

Can't wait for that Zin to be available outside of the mixed case. Although I will get a mixed case and give those two Spanish reds a second chance.

Great write up as usual.

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