Cellar Dregs: 2006 Cameron Hughes Lot 102.

It was good while it lasted, then it went bad.

I love Cameron Hughes wines. In fact they represent likely 80% of our nightly consumption here at Chez Vinagoth. I buy several cases of mixed reds from CHwines per year to keep the cellar stocked. So by no means am I going to slag on the fine reputation of Mr. Hughes and his products. I just had a problem with THIS PARTICULAR bottle of Cabernet last night.

I had come home from work early and had happily set fire to my front yard.

What? OK, let me explain – You see in mid-2010 Mr. & Mrs Barbarian moved. We moved from a mild coastal area bathed in cool mists and temperate weather, to a high desert plateau, where ponderosa pines shed needles and cones at an alarming rate, into the cheatgrass and sagebrush below – creating huge piles of fuel that can feed raging late summer and autumn wildfires. So it is every homeowner’s duty around here to clear their property of fuel in the winters when the threat of wildfires is low. Not wanting my abode to be consumed by a potential conflagration I’ve been raking and piling fuel and burning it in bits over the past few weeks. You rake, pile, burn, and then put it all out with rakes, shovels, and your garden hose. All this work leaves a man with great hunger. And thirst!

Tired, thirsty, and covered in carbon – I ventured inside to cook up some steaks, a salad, some sauteed broccoli, and some baked leeks. Only a big Napa Cab would do!

I glanced at the rack and spotted this lonely bottle, the very last of a long-ago bought mixed case. I can recall that when first purchased, this was a good wine. Not great, but certainly good. Best of all it was a really good value at $10! But time, and possibly travel, had not served this wine well. I’m pretty sure I bought this in 2008 or so, and likely drank its twins between 2009 and 2010. This bottle must have been lost in the cellar, or perhaps I set it aside hoping to maximize its flavor with some time laying down.

I don’t know what happened to it, but when I opened the bottle last night the taste was almost entirely “straw”… Very harsh. All hard on the nose, weird mouth feel, and astringent finish. Undrinkable. That’s a shame. It went down the sink.

A younger Cameron Hughes Napa Cab took its place at the table.

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