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Cameron Hughes, Lot 93, Tempranillo 2004

Cameron Hughes, Lot 93, Tempranillo 2004

by Tim Elliott on November 17, 2008

Négociant Cameron Hughes has made a name for himself selecting and sometimes blending wines that drink like twice or sometimes three times their asking price. Using direct to consumer marketing on his website and distribution through warehouse retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club, Hughes effectively disintermediates the 3-tier wine distribution system here in the U.S. This means he can make money selling $10-20 wines that he sources from some of the top producers around the world.

This past Saturday I presented three of his wines as part of Twitter Taste Live 5. All the wines were provided by Cameron Hughes as samples but I was very impressed with each wine which I will review over the next few weeks here. But the most impressive wine was a new release today, Lot 93, a 2004 Tempranillo from Spain’s Rioja region.

When I opened this wine Saturday, the brand on the cork indicated the producer is Bodegas Covila. On my visit to the region last year, I was struck by how every winery seemed to age their wines as “shiners” or unlabeled, selling the wine when it was “ready to drink.” This old school philosophy makes many wines from Spain tremendous values and provides stock for folks like Cameron Hughes to buy and label for his customers. The result is one of the best values I’ve ever seen as this could easily sell for $50-60 a bottle.

Tasting notes:

Cameron Hughes, “Lot 93”, Tempranillo, Rioja 2004 ($21/sample) – Dark ruby in color with black cherry, cassis, fennel, cocoa and vanilla aromas. Sleek and concentrated black cherry & dark currant fruit with some black pepper and a touch of earth finishing long with firm, but surprisingly well integrated, tannins. A well structured wine that will age for another 5-8 years. The most extreme value I’ve tasted yet from this négociant. Highly recommended.

13.5% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy this wine online

  • Impressive distribution strategy on Cameron Hughes’ part. Cameron seemed to agree with your rating of the wine (as pasted from the http://www.chwine.com/wine/lot/93/):

    “Cameron Confidential: Another gem from winemaker John. I remember initially tasting the wine with COO Doug and him commenting “best Spanish wine I have ever tasted”. I have to agree. In fact, I think it is one of the best wines we have ever offered if not the best. The producer is a co-op with over 450 hectares of fruit in production and this wine is the best they have to offer. It has tremendous class and purity and has been rewarded with numerous best of show and gold medals across Europe. The wine is only made in exceptional vintages and has not been produced since the 2000 vintage. This wine has my highest recommendation.”

  • Kudos to Cameron Hughes for being such an innovator. I have loved watching him exploit the 3 tier system alternatives so intelligently. I have had mixed responses to his wines, some tend to be very firmly in the new world, fruit bomb style.

  • wwh

    I’ve always been a fan of Spanish wine, this sounds like a very good wine. I must say it’s a very interesting distribution strategy as well.

  • rjh

    Just started a kickoff of several Cameron Hughes Lots for my blog. Haven’t had the Lot 93, but will try it if I can find it.

    I just recently had the Lot 16 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and it was fantastic. Clearly sourced from a good vineyard and a winemaker.

    I also just tasted the Lot 82 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and nothing saved that one – not an aerator and not a decanter. Just not there for me. Too acidic and not much of a finish, with lots of alcohol.

    Love what you’re doing with this blog. I just blogrolled your site on my blog – http://rjswineblog.blogspot.com.

  • RJ: Thanks for stopping by and for the link on your blogroll… I'll put you link here when I go through all of them New Year's day.

    I'm also impressed you got a chance to taste such a well-aged Lot. I only got into Cameron's wines about Lot 25 or so. And the variability you describe doesn't surprise me as he can't have a hit every time at the plate. But in my experience those off Lots are few and far between.


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