Let’s face it: drinking wine in DC is a pretty ego-centric affair. Unlike ordering your own cocktail, the choice of wine can be more about what you think others will like than what you like yourself. And it can be nerve wracking to try to select a wine others will enjoy. The only way to know for sure is to give this decision over to a trusted source, someone who knows more about wine than you ever intend to, and can help you select impressive wines while taking the anxiety out of the process. I recently had the chance to taste some wines from Cameron Hughes, a label I already enjoyed, and what I learned made me an even bigger fan. Cameron’s wife Jess is originally from DC, so we got to sit down and try some wines on their recent visit.
First off, Cameron Hughes wines are a great deal:
- Great because the wines chosen are excellent. Each one is a gem in its own way, the reason it is specially purchased.
- A deal because the Cameron Hughes lots are sold at a much lower price point. Without the specialty name, the wine is sold for a fraction of the normal price.
Cameron Hughes wine is my go-to for making sure the wine I bring to dinner is impressive. Cameron Hughes himself is a négociant: he chooses certain excess wine from big name vineyards (mostly on the west coast), then sells those bottles under mystery names like “Cameron Hughes Lot 541: Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles.” Each small lot is a “silver bullet,” a one-time offer of that particular wine. This concept is clearly opposed to some brand name wines (ahem, Cupcake, ahem), which are always available on shelves, but can cost more to ship to retailers than they cost to make. Cameron Hughes wines are available mostly online in order to cut out any price markup.
Some of the wines we sampled seemed more appropriate for an event, while others were what Cameron calls “pop and pour Tuesday night wine,” good anytime.
- Lot 529 Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley was flinty and crisp, not at all like the buttery, oaky Chardonnays I usually avoid. I would love to have more of this refreshing wine around when the DC weather turns sticky. ($13)
- Lot 541 Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles is the “pop and pour wine,” juicy and ready to be enjoyed anytime, perhaps with a thin crust pizza on a Tuesday night. ($14)
- Lot 575 Red Mountain Washington State blend was the most memorable. Very, very dry and one of the top selling wines from Cameron Hughes. Now that cabernets are so expensive in California, many growers are starting in Washington state. ($16)
- Lot 528 Meritage Napa Valley is a mix of Cabernet and Merlot from 2013 and 2014. This non-vintage approach combines different components to create a delicious wine. ($13)
- Lot 607 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley comes from one of the highest end producers in the area, and Cameron Hughes bought out wines that normally sell for $100 per bottle. The higher altitude creates a cooler climate, and those temperature swings, along with the local alluvial ash in the soil, create the elegant flavors in this wine. ($20)
With a trusted source for delicious wines for a steal, Cameron Hughes allows you enjoy your wine and impress your friends. Don’t we all just want it both ways?