Showing posts with label vintners. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vintners. Show all posts

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Two New Releases From Cameron Hughes

California wine n├ęgociant Cameron Hughes owns no vineyards and has no official winery.  He sniffs out good wine which has already been produced by established makers, then buys it on the down low with an agreement not to reveal the source.  He then sells the wine online through his wine club - he calls it a wineocracy - bringing top-shelf wines to lower-shelf wallets.  Hughes says he keeps prices low by removing the middleman, the distributor and retailer through which store-bought wines must pass.

Cameron Hughes Lot 811 Zinfandel Lodi 2019

Lot 811 is made completely from Lodi Zinfandel grapes.  The Lodi appellation has come on strong in recent years, especially with respect to the Zinfandels being produced there.  Most of the growers in Lodi are families which have been growing those grapes for generations.  Many of them have only recently begun making their own wine instead of selling the fruit to other producers.

This wine checks in with alcohol at 14.5% abv and a retail sticker of $13.  Yes.  Great Lodi Zin, for thirteen dollars.

The wine is medium dark in the glass.  The nose is perfumed with plum and blackberry aromas, with a hint of black pepper and campfire smoke.  An undercurrent of lilacs sets off the more savory aspect.  On the palate, there is amazing fruit - cherry, blackberry, cassis - along with some fairly awesome peppery notes.  The mouthfeel is full, yet lean, with tannins firm enough to do a job but soft enough to stay out of the way when they are not working.  I don't get a color reference very often on the palate, but this wine tastes purple to me.  The finish is medium at best, but full of the aforementioned fruit. 


Cameron Hughes Lot 825 White Meritage Napa Valley 2020

Lot 825 combines 70% Sauvignon Blanc grapes with 30% Semillon, a blend found more famously in the Bordeaux region of Graves.  These grapes were grown in the Napa Valley, where ripeness never seems to be a problem.  Alcohol tips only 12.9% abv and the retail price is $16.

This wine is lightly tinted yellow.  The nose is full of citrus and minerals - that smell of a wet sidewalk is in there.  There is also a trace of apricot and a hint of an herbal note - not full-blown grassiness, but edging in that direction.  The palate is very clean and lean.  The citrus takes center stage with the minerality staying close.  I usually think California SauvBlanc is riper than anywhere else in the world, but this example does not follow suit.  It is a bit tart, but with the usual Sauvignon trappings quite muted.  I suppose the Semillon helps out in that area.  The acidity is light enough for easy sipping, yet strong enough to handle some non-demanding pairing jobs.  I think this is actually a pretty good Sauvignon Blanc for people who think Sauvignon Blanc comes on too strong.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

What Kind Of Wine Is Tussock Jumper?

Tussock is a kind of grass that grows longer than the grass surrounding it.

A jumper is a sweater - in this case, a red one.

Tussock Jumper Wines says that "tussock" represents their commitment to sustainable wines, and the red jumper is a mark of quality.

A publicist tells me that Tussock Jumper is a French negociant.  They own no vineyards but select quality grapes from small farms in multiple regions, around the globe.  Their wines are blended and bottled locally in order to support micro economies.  The U.S. importer, TRI-VIN, has a list of 24 wines available, from eleven different wine regions around the world.  

Each bottle shows a different animal wearing the red jumper.  Despite the "critter label" aspect, I found these wines to be very tasty, even interesting.  A mobile app is available which allows one to scan the label and get an earful about what's in the bottle from the animal itself.  I found the iPhone app to be balky and just plain goofy, not at all representative of the wine - which deserves much better.

Tussock Jumper Chenin Blanc 2020 - Stellenbosch, South Africa 

This off-dry wine was made with minimal cellar intervention, from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes picked in select vineyards in the Helderberg and Paarl regions, as well as from the high slopes of the Du Toitskloof mountains.  The Western Cape wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, where it lay on the spent yeast cells for about four months before blending.  Alcohol hits 13% abv and it is available for $13.

This wine has a slightly yellow tint and a nose that is all about the minerals.  The smell of lemon zest, tropical fruit and a wet sidewalk all play into the aroma package.  The palate shows various kinds of citrus, stone fruit and a rich salinity, not to mention the racy acidity.  It's time for shellfish or crustaceans, or any kind of seafood, really. 

Tussock Jumper Riesling 2020 - Mosel, Germany 

These Riesling grapes came from the Rheinhessen region of western Germany, along the Mosel and Rhein river banks, where some of Germany's warmest and driest growing conditions are found.  Tank fermented, the wine sat on the lees - the spent yeast cells - for three months, giving it more weight and added complexity.  Alcohol is low, at only 10.5% abv, and the retail price is just $12.

This pale, off-dry wine's nose features scents of lemon, apricot, apple and cantaloupe.  The palate is mineral-driven with a decent acidity, although not razor-sharp.  Pair it with Thai or Indian curries, sushi or seafood risotto.

Tussock Jumper Sauvignon Blanc 2020 - Marlborough, New Zealand

Marlborough's 2020 growing season had lengthy dry spells, which the folks at TJ say led to concentrated flavors and aromas.  This vintage is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, made from a blend of three vineyards, two in Wairau Valley, and one in Waihopai Valley.  The wine aged on the lees for approximately four weeks before filtering.  Alcohol tips 12.5% abv and the price is $12.

This pale, yellow wine smells extremely grassy - no surprise for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  There is also a large swath of grapefruit, cantaloupe and tropical fruits cutting through the nose.  The grapefruit comes through explosively on the palate, along with a mineral streak a mile wide.  The mouthfeel is quite crisp and the acidity zippy.  There is just a tiny hint of sweetness here, and the citrus flavor lasts a long while on the finish.  You can pair this with any sort of white meat or seafood, but I think it would be a great choice to go with one's breakfast eggs, if one were so inclined.


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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Winning Lodi Zinfandel At Half The Price

California wine n├ęgociant Cameron Hughes owns no vineyards and has no official winery.  He sniffs out good wine which has already been produced by established makers, then buys it on the down low with an agreement not to reveal the source.  He then sells the wine online through his wine club - he calls it a wineocracy - bringing top-shelf wines to lower-shelf wallets.  Hughes says he keeps prices low by removing the middleman, the distributor and retailer through which store-bought wines must pass.  Hughes has a nose for good wine, which makes his label a reliable source for such juice.

Lot 730 Zinfandel Lodi 2018

This Zinfandel was sourced "from an esteemed producer home to numerous parcels of Lodi's famous old vines," says Hughes.  The vintner promises it is everything you would expect from a Lodi Zin - fruity, spicy, nuanced - and more, because it sells for about half of its original price.  Alcohol rises to 15.5% abv and the sticker reads about $13.

This Lodi Zinfandel carries a medium tint in the glass and smells of red fruit and black pepper.  The palate is fruity with a savory note to go along with it.  A zippy acidity is fresh, while the tannins are quite firm.  My pork chop paired very well with it.



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