There's no schadenfreude required to benefit from the miscalculations of others, or the changing realities of the market — including the wine market. As wine brands and production in California and worldwide have exploded, the amount of excess wine at all levels has boomed, too. San Francisco-based Cameron Hughes created a business to take advantage of this, and that business is delivering good-to-great wines at great-to-phenomenal prices.
Hughes, the man behind the eponymous brand, seeks out great grapes, juice, or finished wine that is beyond the capacity or demand of the brands that own it, buys it, bottles it, and sells it to you for a lot less than you'd pay any other way. The wines in his Lot series are labeled simply by number, with an indication of where the wine came from and which varietal was used. Recently Hughes released Lot 300, "our best wine, best value to date," according to Hughes PR ManagerLara Abbott.
The wine is excellent, and an exceptional value. It's a dark dense, ruby-to-garnet color, with a classically Cabernet nose and a modest whiff of herbaceousness. Soft, smooth, rich, and semi-lush in the mouth, it tastes of dense red fruit and a bit of cacao. There's noticeable minerality and wonderful flavors, and it should stand up to a big steak or a cold night.
The wine is labeled simply as Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, but Hughes tells us it's a blend of Oakville, Rutherford, and Stags Leap fruit and that "this producer doesn't sell a bottle of wine under $100. Actually, it's much higher, but to honor our non-disclosure agreement I'm keeping this a bit fuzzy."
At $28 a bottle, the price is more than right, though we'd say it drinks more like $65 than $150. Maybe that's why they sold it. Either way, you should buy it, at Costco, Safeway, or directly at chwine.com.