Farmed from 30-year-old head-pruned Zin vines located on benchlands in Dry Creek. It sees 24 months in 50% new, 50% neutral American oak. The same juice sells for $30 a bottle out of a tasting room in Dry Creek.
My favorite of the five Zinfandels by a large margin is the 2001 Cameron Hughes Lot 5 Sonoma County Zinfandel ($10). Flavors of blackberry, black tea, oak and vanilla keep shifting on the tongue throughout the medium-long finish.
Cameron Hughes is a negociant Robin Hood, going around scooping up rich red wines and selling them at working-man prices. Specifically, he works the spot market for barrels or tanks of nearly finished wine -- not the cast-off stuff that a winery couldn't sell, but the smaller lots of excellent wine that, for whatever reason, did not make it into the final blend of something with a brand name. Then he finishes them for near-term drinking and sells them for a song.
His ten-buck 2002 Knights Valley Cabernet ("Lot 5" for those of you who are counting) was among my top value wines for 2005.
Hughes is up to Lot 12 with his 2003 Sonoma Mountain Syrah, and he's also up to the comparatively lofty price of $15. Never fear, however, for Robin Hood has been here. The wine blooms in your glass with all the things that make Syrah Syrah: meat, earth, and blood right along with the red plums, raspberries and black cherries. All the aromas pour forth into flavors in your mouth, and the wine picks up a sweet vanilla dimension and some pleasing tannic grip past the mid-palate. The fruit is, as Hughes intends, way forward; yet the wine also has the persistence and finesse in the finish of a $30 Syrah (which is what this would have cost if Robin Hood had not swept in).
Let's have "Lots" more of these, please!
Cameron Hughes Lot 5, 2001 Zinfandel was the second choice. This wine comes from Sonoma County California, and www.chwine.com has more details. Two of our more senior tasters (thats code for Aunts) enjoyed this wine more so than the other one. I think GW and I leaned toward the former. Just goes to show you'll need a couple of bottles and a couple of different vinters to please a larger crowd.