First of all, I’d like report that due to the overwhelming response to the new look of the website (average opinion: “Eww”), it’s been changed to something less, well, *vivid*! Brighter colors are still there, but it’s definitely easier to read. There’s also some information about upcoming services and the new logo.
And now for the main event: the report of the Hug Cellars Winemaker’s tasting at my home on Saturday evening, December 29. What a fabulous time!
The event was set up in just a few days primarily through MySpace and email. Augie Hug of Hug Cellars contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in having Edgar Torres, his assistant winemaker, stop by to showcase Hug Cellars wines. I hesitated all of, say, 1.5 seconds before I said yes. Edgar and I messaged through MySpace and got everything set up. I then contacted the Tex & Fritz Wine Club thing to invite them. I felt that those who were most knowledgeable about wines would be the best for the tasting. And was I ever right!
I don’t even know where to begin. Edgar brought nine wines, I broke out my last Casa Mireles Rosé – yes, it’s a Hug wine – and we had several pre- and post-wines to enjoy as well.
Augie is all about quality. I found it interesting that he purposely keeps his production small because he is able to be more intimately involved in the process.
Hug Cellars is looking to place its wines in the Las Vegas area. Why? Because Las Vegas residents make up nearly 20% of its wine club! Locals who visit Paso Robles and who are savvy enough to find Hug’s tiny tasting room almost inevitably join the club. It’s easy to understand why. The wines are uniformly rich, delicious, and correct for the varietal. That’s why I’m a member!
So Edgar’s trip was to serve several purposes: first and foremost, it was a vacation for him and his wife, Erika. Second, to share the wines with a group of experienced wine lovers who may not be familiar with the wines of Paso Robles – particularly Hug Cellars - and the third thing was to get in touch with a distributor who would be enthusiastic and work hard for a small winery.
Many questions were posed to Edgar, and I actually got to hear some of them. Hostessing is hard work, you know! And, I might add, the NY Giants/NE Patriots game was on at the same time and was somewhat distracting. NE won, by the way. But I digress.
One of the questions asked was if Hug Cellars owns its own vineyards. The answer was no. They own the grapes in various vineyards, but not the vineyards themselves. They work with the growers on how to care for the grapes (pruning, feeding, irrigating, etc.), so that they can control the quality for their particular style of winemaking. If a grower doesn’t do what is asked of him or is less than cooperative, then that grower loses Hug as a principal.
Another question was about the barrels. While I had heard that they were expensive, I didn’t realize just how expensive they really are. Edgar told us about Augie’s experience in buying up a bunch of barrels and the fact that they are well over $1000 each. Wow. And remember, they can’t be used indefinitely and have to be replaced as they lose their newness and oak character.
I will list the wines below, but if you want to see the bottles, then just check out the special hidden page I placed on my website just for the Blog readers! It is located at:
There is a picture slide show there that shows the wines, bottles, and folks who were at my home. If this does not click through for you, then just copy and paste the web info into your address field in your browser. When you get to the page and hover your mouse over the thumbnails, you will see a written description of that particular picture. There are only about two dozen pics - I kept forgetting to take pictures because we were having such a good time. All of the wines are described on the Hug Cellars website except for those that I describe below:
2006 Cedar Lane Vineyard
2005 Casa Mireles
San Luis Obispo County
This was my last bottle and I just had to share it with everyone. This is an interesting blend of Syrah with just a touch of Pinot. Roses, strawberries, cherries, with a touch of watermelon. It was great hearing everyone analyze the wines!
2006 Paso Robles
2006 Rancho Ontiveros
Santa Maria Valley
This had to be decanted because it’s so rich and so big. Delicious! The complete descriptions and accompanying accolades are on the Hug Cellars website.
100% Grenache, this is Edgar’s own creation using Denner Vineyard grapes. I got dark berries, spice, pepper, and a rich but silky mouthfeel.
66% Denner Grenache and 34% Cedar Lane Vineyard Syrah.
This one made me bring out the lamb! The Syrah added punch to the Grenache, making this a wonderful blend with Chateauneuf-de-Pape character. Full-bodied, rich, fruity, with enough earthiness to keep it interesting. It was terrific with the lamb!
2006 Paso Robles
2005 Bassetti Vineyard
San Luis Obispo County
2006 Paso Robles
And then there were the pre- and after-wines:
2004 Jacob’s Creek
This was rated 90-something by Wine Spectator and for about eight bucks at Costco, is quite the deal. Perfect quality/price for a house wine! I had opened it the night before and had a glass, so there was quite a bit left for the early arrivals to share. It maintained its character, and showed beautifully.
This was a French (surprise!) wine, and while no one had any idea what grapes are in the blend, it is absolutely delicious. This was the other pre-wine. Thanks to Mike and Allisa.
Quinta Dos Quatro Ventos
Douro Colheita de 2004
Fritz and Annie brought this one and I wish I could tell you how it tasted, but it was scarfed in no time! Apparently, it was quite good!
2003 Robert Hall
This was ideal with some Stilton (yes, *British* Stilton!) that had warmed slightly. The classic pairing!
All of the food was wonderful, and except for a slight fireplace mishap (damn damper!) the evening went flawlessly. Thanks to everyone who was able to come, and a special, heart-felt thanks to Augie and Edgar. I can’t wait to do it again!