Cameron Hughes Lot #160

Lodi, California, is in the San Joaquin Valley. The San Joaquin Valley is known for its jug wines. I will never drink a San Joaquin Valley wine. It’s a good thing I didn’t know that Lodi was in the SJ Valley when I drank that Cameron Hughes Lot #160 in March of 2010. Otherwise, I may not have known how truly delicious it was. It’s a Zinfandel with a nose of dirt and cherries. The taste was cherry spice with a long tannic finish. There were many flavors mingling in and out with each sip. With each inhale I felt lost in a lush, viney forest that was filled with berries and wet earth. It was a rich, delicious wine. Cameron Hughes is not a vintner. He is a negociant. He buys up expensive wines that haven’t sold, bottles them with his name, and sells them at a bargain price. This Zinfandel was much more delicious than it’s $10 price tag would have led me to believe.

One of the intriguing things about wine is the label. It’s appealing to read the label and let one’s mind wander to that particular village, whether it’s in France, Argentina, or California. The wines that are made from grapes all on one vineyard are especially intriguing. They seem more pure and genuine, as if one vintner has welcomed you to his or her home and shared centuries of a family’s work with you, a stranger. In that bottle one can taste not only the style of winemaking from this one family, a style that has evolved and been perfected over perhaps a few centuries, but also, one tastes the weather, the soil, the slope of the land. The French call it the terroir.