Thursday, March 27, 2008

No Swill Zone - Cameron Hughes Lot 26

I’d seen these wines lying around Costco before. Same looking label on the same looking bottles, the only difference being the color of the label, the contents of the bottle, and the “lot”.

Turns out Cameron Hughes does not make wine by vintage or vineyard but by “lot”. See, Cameron Hughes’ wines are made from excess grapes sourced from wineries worldwide and most are a one-time deal. Like a Syrah from the Edna Valley? Buy up because it might be the only one he’ll ever make. Not to worry, most lots are enough that if you like a particular wine you’ll probably be able to get your hands on some. But after that, it’s gone forever.

My particular run in came when we got some clams (farmed in FLA by the way!) at Costco and realized we needed a wine to go with them. With my girlfriend braving the checkout line I ran to the back of the store to pick something out. Again I’d seen these wines at Costco before but never thought twice about them until now when I was hurried, panicked and noticed the $10.99 price tag. It was Lot 26, a Sauvignon Blanc sourced from vineyards in Marlborough, New Zealand.

With wine and mollusks in tow we headed home. Initially we were going to have clams with pasta but my girlfriend felt too tired to cook so it was up to me. Since I’m not a pasta fan I braved to find a different method to make these puppies. I picked up The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen (one of my favorite cookbooks) and sure enough there was a recipe for clams braised in butter with serrano ham. ‘Nuff said.

Clams were made and wine was opened. I didn’t think the wine would outshine the clams, but damn! The wine and clam pairing was horrible, in fact awful. The clams were buttery and salty and smoky and were excellent. The wine blew up with kiwi and grapefruit but drank a little drier than I’d imagined. Together not so good, but we couldn’t stop drinking it. For $11 the quality of the wine was way above its price range. As for pairing it with some smoky clams, it was a bad idea. But given that summer is coming up and lighter meals are on the menu (like clams in broth without Serrano ham and pimenton) it’s a perfect with our Floridian snapper, shrimp etc. Buy this stuff up while you still can. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

My take: get out and buy as much of this as you can but leave some for me!

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