France’s wine négociant model has been part of the wine business for hundreds of years, going back as far at the 11th century in the Bordeaux region. In similar fashion wine trader Cameron Hughes doesn’t own vineyards or a winery. Instead, his focus is on sourcing top quality wines and selling them direct to consumers at the best price possible.
The concept is simple-buy excess wine from top name producers, and bottle it under your own label. The producer keeps their supply low enough to justify high prices and meet demand, while the négociant is able to sell high quality wines at deep discount prices. With a background starting with The Wine Group, owners of Ava Grace, Bezinger, Cupcake, Big House Wines, and many more household names, Hughes took his experience sourcing and negotiating and turned it to his own wine label in 2001.
In recent years, the wine négociant business has changed dramatically, with quality wines now available under a number of labels and producer portfolios. Many years ago, négociants had a less than stellar reputation-buying and selling cheap wines that were barely drinkable, much less the high quality they purported to sell. Times changed, however, and with top négociants like Georges Duboeuf, Band of Vintners, and others leading the charge, consumers can get access-albeit in small amounts-to top quality wines for bargain basement prices.
With a focus mainly on American wines, Hughes stands out as a curator of some of the best the US market has to offer.
Our team recently had an opportunity to taste Cameron Hughes Lot 671, a Napa Valley 2016 Meritage red blend. A 77% to 23% blend of Oakville and Mt. Veeder appellations, this wine was fermented in concrete tanks and aged in new French oak. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (39%), Cabernet Franc (32%), Petit Verdot (26%), Merlot (2%), Malbec (1%) – all from Napa Valley, it’s rich flavors of cocoa, dark red fruits and spice, medium tannins, and long finish were a stellar wine from first to last sip. One wine expert commented that it was one of the best Napa Valley wines they had tasted in over 30 years.
Two other varietals were also sampled-Cameron Hughes Lot 631, a 2017 Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley in Oregon, and Lot 639, a Monterey County rosé made from Valdiguié grapes. Check out our notes on all three Cameron Hughes wines on our Wines of the Week wine review.
Keep in mind, when they’re gone, they’re gone. Regardless of which blend or vintage you find, don’t hesitate to pick up a bottle of Cameron Hughes wines. We doubt you’ll be anything but pleasantly surprised.