The Cameron Hughes Lot 313 California Field Blend is composed of 71% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah, 10% Syrah and 9% Carignane, along with very small amounts of indigenous Italian grape varietals grown the Lodi AVA inside the Central Coast AVA in California. The label shows California as the origin of the grapes, which means the grapes came from more than one AVA, but all the grapes were grown in Lodi. The label also says this is a Field Blend and it’s not, it is more of a homage to Field Blends. A Field Blend is the Old School method where a number of different grape varietals are planted together in one field. At harvest, they try to pick the grapes when all the grape varietals are as close to ripe as possible (different grape varietals ripen at a different rate), they take all the different harvested grapes and crush them and ferment them as one. Some years everything goes right and you get a magical wine, other years half of the grapes aren’t ripe and the other half are too ripe. Mother Nature is in charge of the blend and Mother Nature does not always cooperate, there are a few people left in California still making real Field Blend wines, but for the sake of some resemblance of consistency, most winemakers have moved away from the practice. Cameron Hughes cellared and bottled this wine which indicates that he aged and bottled the finished product, but he did not produce the wine (since he is a negociant, that is to be expected). The Lot 313 Blend was aged in oak barrels and the alcohol content is 14.5%.
The color is black cherry red with ruby highlights. The nose is red fruit with cherry wood smoke, sort of like a combination of a roadside fruit stand and a BBQ joint, along with a little oak spice. This is a wine that is bursting with fruit flavor, this is no “fruit bomb” it has structure to go along with the blueberry, black cherry and raspberry. Mixed in with the fruit is a little herbal tea and a touch of French vanilla. The mid palate adds some very firm tannins, you can feel them in the back of your mouth, along with tart cranberry, a little pepper and a hit of spice. The tannins help the finish bounce along for quite some time.
The Cameron Hughes Lot 313 California Field Blend is a big, flavorful, juicy and fun bottle of wine. This is a wine that does not hide its charms, what is good about this bottle is evident on the first sip. Good Zinfandel always seems to pair well with some grub from the best BBQ joint in town and this Zinfandel blend would do justice to a great slab of ribs.
NOTE: if you have been ordering beer at your favorite BBQ joint, you have been missing out, Zinfandel based wines and smoky, caramelized pork are a match made in heaven.