Cellar Treasure: Cameron Hughes Lot 386 – 2011 California Field Blend

CH Wine Lot 386

It hasn’t rained here in so long that I can’t recall the feeling of water falling from the sky.

As I am finishing dinner I note a few drops on the living room window. Grabbing my bottle and glass I go out onto the deck to savor the moment. Thunder booming and rattling throughout the sky, and from atop my mountainside abode I can see the tell-tale signs of some serious rain falling on the two towns west of me in the valley between my hill and the higher mountain range to the west.

Thinking back to the last “wet” year on the west coast, it was the winter of 2010/2011. It was a great year for skiers like me, with deep snowpack and a very long season. I remember skiing in a snowstorm on Memorial Day that year, and my local ski hill opening again for a week of skiing around the 4th of July.

Now I look upon the same mountains in July of 2015 and they look like it is September of any other year. Bare of snow. My ski season this year ended early, with the ski area finally giving up fighting against the reality of very warm weather, and a meagre snowpack as April came to a hot, melting end.

So here I find myself upon the deck, lying back in a chair savoring the feeling of water falling from the sky. I don’t care that I’m getting wet. I don’t care that raindrops are falling into my wine glass. All I care about is that we’re savoring this minor break in a drought that seems as if it has been going on for more than a year. I know that this is an illusion… a few sprinkles do not make for climate change. Just some short-term relief.

water… falling from the sky

In my glass is a memory of that last good/normal year. As I said 2010/11 was the last “wet” year on the west coast. The last good ski season. The last memory of what is normal in the mind of this Pacific Northwesterner. This wine has benefitted from resting in my cellar for these past years. It was an “OK” wine when first released. Cameron Hughes is a negoçiant, with a talent for finding good $40 wines and selling them for $15. This blend is right within that wheelhouse. Even with its cellar time, it hasn’t magically become a $300 wine, but it certainly has developed into something worthy of more than the $12 I spent on it back in the day. The Zin remains the backbone, with the one-two punch of Syrah and Petite Sirah to give it a Klingon-like redundancy of critical “oomph”.

Along with raindrops, I enjoyed this wine with a small lamb chop and some sautéed shallots and green vegetables. If you have any in your cellar now may be the time to pull it out. Maybe we can summon La Niña back to the west coast.

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