Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Comeback Kid

Review: 2006 Cameron Hughes Cabernet Diamond Mountain Lot 146

Rating:  Unapproachable out of the gate - and almost poured down the drain before it opened up.  Needs several hours breathing to reveal its goodies, but another very young (and strong) wine from the CHW lineup of killer Cabs.  $22

NOTE: Regrettably, since the writing of this review, this wine has sold out. Not so regrettably, it sold out due to the very favorable press the Wall Street Journal.  The article doesn't contain anything you haven't already read here, but big congratulations to CHW team for upgrading its media coverage!

The Rest Of The Story: (Full disclosure: This wine was received as a press sample from the winery.) At the risk of seeming like a CHW slut, this is yet another winner in the seemingly uninterruptible pipeline of Cameron Hughes' reds.  But it was almost not so...
This wine initially flunked its taste test.  An hour open it was astringent and abrasive.  Then went into an awkward adolescence phase for several hours.  Ugh. 

We thought we had found a kink in the CHW armor.

Then, finally, after more than 8 hours decanted, when Cameron was almost on the receiving end of an email saying that he shipped a skunked bottle, this motha turned a corner - on to Holy Shit Blvd.

Everything changed.  The astringency gave way to balanced fruit and the abrasiveness dissolved to smoothness - smooth like Sade's tunes.  Take-your-clothes-off smooth.  As the ladies say when they can't hide their enthusiasm... Oh, my.

Faith restored, it was a close call for this wine.  But any wine that evolves like this one suggests a potential (if not need) for aging.  It's an experience like this wine, and that their Lot 140 delivers, that puts CHW's wines into a category they hadn't occupied before. 

This is serious stuff.  Serious. 

These are not pop-one-open-on-a-Tuesday-night-with-pizza kind of wines.  They're not screaming "drink me now, stupid" (even though Lots 138 and 168 definitely do).  They're not the accessible and readily drinkable adult candy versions of grape juice.  In fact, if there's a flaw in this wine, it's that it's too damn unapproachable out of the bottle.

These are open-up-on-a-Saturday-morning-and-let-them-breathe-before-your-wine-snob-neighbor-comes-over-and-you-blow-his-mind wines.  These are stick in your cellar and forget about them for a decade wines.  These are wines that can stand comfortably in the company of their overpriced siblings fetching sixty, seventy, or more dollars apiece.

As we've said before, if you have a taste for exceptional quality wine, but can’t stomach the insane prices, this is a company to keep an eye on.  Cheers.

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