Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Winey Tasting Notes: Cameron Hughes Lot 313 California Field Blend

In a previous posting, I introduced us all to Cameron Hughes Chardonnay, but I also talked about how I was intrigued by their Lot Series of wines. They explain the idea very well on their website: super/ultra-premium and luxury quality wine segments (wines over $14) are oversupplied every year... the Lot Series of wines, takes advantage of this oversupply but takes it one step further. Whereas most of these high-end wines end up being "back-blended" into lesser quality wines to "fix" them, the Lot Series preserves the ultra-premium quality of the original Lot by bottling it unadulterated and never "back-blended."

Understandably, there aren't a lot of cases from each lot, but there are many lots to choose from. After standing in front of a large selection of these Lot Bottles, looking somewhat like a person who couldn't make up her Winey little mind (I couldn't), I chose a bottle of Lot 313. I've been having some wonderful red blends lately, and Lot 313 is called the California Field Blend (2010, 14.5%, California) so my decision was made.

Lot 313 is made up of 71% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah, 10% Syrah, 9% Carignane. Lots of blending going on there. It has a semi-jammy nose of strawberry and oaky wood with an astringent tinge on top of it all.

The taste was blueberry and raspberry and at first I thought that the tannins were overpowering the fruit flavors a bit too much. But the more time the wine spent in the open (patio, so very open) air, I decided that the tannins were actually doing a very good job of keeping those fruits nicely corralled. The finish had a bite to it, but it was a nicely behaved bite - more tart than drying wood.

This is not a wine for anyone who doesn't like their reds to stand up and shout. The blending really doesn't make this a mild wine...more bold and loud. Some of you might just want to drink it with dinner instead of sipping it on its own, and that's just fine because it would pair famously with some grilled steak or a hearty stew.

On a side note here, being the responsible Winey Mom that I am, I was unable to finish the entire bottle in one patio session. So I lovingly recorked it and took it up again the next evening. (I did NOT use my vacuum sealer on purpose.) One day later, the fruit flavors really sang out in this wine. The tannins were pretty much gone (as happens after being opened for 24 hours), but I thought this was still a nice, big red. You could taste the juicy Zinfandel a bit more, but the bite was gone. So I actually found a wine that gave me two very different sipping experiences, separated by 24 hours and my inability to actually drink more than 2 glasses of wine at a time. (OK, on certain nights I am perfectly capable of doing this - but there is usually a party or a long awaited milestone involved then. This was not either of those times.)


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