Revisiting an old friend, Cameron Hughes Lot 458, Paso Robles Petite Sirah

Cellar Treasure: Cameron Hughes Lot 458

Here is a cellar treasure for you. A $15 dollar wine that was made almost a decade ago, and has been laid down in my cellar(s – I’ve moved three times since it was originally purchased!) since acquired. It came to me first as a single or maybe pair of bottles as part of my semi-annual wine club shipment from Cameron Hughes. After trying it I bought a full case. I’ve pulled a bottle out from the cache now and then over the years and it has yet to disappoint! I’ve written about it before, and today I’m making a mixed grill BBQ of pork ribs and Nashville style chicken thighs and need a “big boy” wine to stand up to the strong flavors and spiciness of the dinner. Petite Sirah is always what comes to mind when seeking a big wine that can handle such a pairing. (Zinfandel too, but as we all know, I’m a Durif sort of guy… Mais bien sûr!)

I pulled the cork and decanted it right when the ribs came out of the sous vide and onto the grill (with hickory chips for smoke). One thing I’ve appreciated about Cameron Hughes from the very beginning has been the astounding value of their wines. This one as I said cost me $15/bottle when I bought it way back when. Another thing that has impressed me has been the quality and longevity of their enclosures. Have a look at this cork:

No cork problems here.

I drink a lot of older wines and all too often my corks are halfway (or more!) saturated after a decade, and an epic and often losing wrestling match after twenty years. Not this one. The bottom is saturated, but the wine has intruded barely 1.5mm into the cork itself. Well done Mr. Hughes!

The wine? Still as big and bold as it was seven years ago when I first tasted it. It has mellowed a minuscule amount, and benefits still from time in the decanter. The only thing lost over time has been the intense opacity it displayed when new. It has become much lighter in appearance (though NOT in flavor) to a more brick red from the deep dark purple it showed in previous years.

It really pays to let some of your bottles rest in a cellar. Try it and see.

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