Ancient cellar showing numerous red wine bottles covered in ages of dust

Cameron Hughes Wine Presents… Great Moments in History, pt. 1

One of the greatest perks of being in this industry is making pieces of history.  For every bottle you produce, you have no idea what will happen to it, how long it’ll live, by where it will travel, to where it meets its ultimate end.  And what of the world around it?  What transpired when it was created, and what occurred during the passage of its time?  Did the bottle itself hold up over that time and through those travels?

Here we seek to understand a bit of the beauty that is aged wine, by reflecting on what has transpired durring the life of these bottles.  So now then, onward!

Lot 146 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Cameron Hughes

We started with our youngest bottle of the line up, 2006 Diamond Mountain Cab.  Yes, shameless self promotion, it was a gem from our own label, and thus we are including it here.  This bottle never traveled far, it lived the entirety of its life in California, with slight movements around wine country and the greater Bay Area, yet this bottle has seen quite a bit:  Three presidencies, the peak and end of the modern recession, the rise of rent prices in the Bay Area to astronomical levels, the birth of Dubstep and rise of Trap music, the passing of David Bowie, the breakup and reunion of the Backstreet Boys, the fall and rise of Britney Spears, and the death of EDM due to David Guetta’s efforts in pop music crossovers.

Safe to say, this bottle has seen some things!

By the way, still drinking great.  If you have any, it still has so much more life.  06, great year.  Fruit is still in tact, acidity is still there, great mouthfeel, so many more years to go on these bottles if you got ’em.

1989 Taluau Bourgueil. bottle and poured glass

Up next, we had the 1989 Taluau Bourgueil.  This wine left France at some point after 1990, and traveled god knows where until it met the end of its travels in Henry’s office.  This wine has seen quite a lot.  Multiple conflicts and wars in the Middle East, the beginning of liver transplants, a Berlin with no wall, the breakup of New Kids on the Block, the rise and untimely falls of Tupac Shakur and Notorious BIG, the fall of the Twin Towers, the death of Miles Davis, and the highest selling/charting assimilation of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers (as well as some of their best known hits).

Speaking of Red Hot Chilli Peppers, the pyrazines were still fully intact.  There is something super special about Chinon and Bourgueil in that the Cab Francs, for the entirety of their lives, seem to keep that pepper flavor so beautifully fresh and dominant.  The color was beginning to turn, but there is still life in this vintage from all of our experiences.  As Ryan always says, you see an 89 Chinon or Bourgueil, BUY! 

Truly a wine of beauty that has traveled far and wide, and could have, at any point, gone some other way, yet found its way to us, through 30 years of human history.  Crazy!

1976.  The year of the fabled Judgement of Paris.  Now here is a wine that has seen some time, and major events.  The incorporation of Apple computers, the world’s first in-home computer – the Commodore, the first Oakland Raiders Super Bowl championship,  the final Elvis Presley concert, the births of a majority of our staff and Beyoncé, the careers of Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Ric Flair (Wooooooooooo!), the death of Andre the Giant, all of Michael Jackson’s major solo & duet hits, including everything we’ve previously mentioned in this post.

This wine left southwestern France in the year of our Lord 1978 and traveled to parts unknown, yet based on the cork, it was very well taken care of, and from the cellar mold on top of the cork, kept in relatively prime conditions.  From our best assessment, when it made its way to the new world it was in the possession of one owner in or around the New York area before heading west to land in a cellar somewhere in the Northern California area.  It was then sold to a third American purchaser who held it until the time of their passing, and ultimately settled in our shopping cart, whereby it met its end on our tasting table, 43 years after birth.

While we expected it to turn over in 30-45 minutes, it actually kept holding up well closer to an hour in, leaving us to believe it may have had another hour or more of life before the vinegar notes began to take over.  The terroir was in tact, there was still a bit of fruit, it was cola-colored brown in the glass with a deep purple core, and the acidity was still alive without ever becoming volatile.  This is exactly why 11.5% Cabs are awesome, the 14-15% beasts we see nowadays will not live this long, it’s the lower alcohol guys that last for what seems forever.  Keep that in mind if you’re buying vintaged.

Bottle and glass of Chateau Bellegrave

The old-fart on our tasting was honestly one of the most exciting.  1970 Chateau Bellegrave.  At almost 50 years old, and not being Left Bank, we needed to include a pic of the wine in the glass (as no one would believe it was still purple in the core with a ruby to slight brick color on the rim), and the cork in perfect condition – pulled with a somm corkscrew (not an ah so opener).

This is Merlot dominated, so anyone that is still hating on Merlot today, your loss, lol.  The wine was old and quick, turning over at around the 40 minute mark, but every moment of that 40 minutes was met with dynamic, welcome, incredible changes, sometimes from smell-to-smell.  This wine not only took us on a journey with it, but took quite the journey itself.

When this wine was vintaged, we were still in the Vietnam War, Black Sabbath released their eponymous debut album, and the Apollo 14 mission landed on the moon.  It continued to see its days through the final episode of the Ed Sullivan show airing, Jim Morrison being found dead in Paris, Roe v. Wade becoming the law of the land, the Saturday Night Massacre events, and the beginning of operations for shipping giant FedEx.  At that time, it had no idea it’d soon see the birth of Hip Hop music by DJ Kool Herc in NYC, Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album, Miller’s introduction of Lite Beer into the marketplace, the first Stephen King novel (Carrie), and the invention of the Rubik’s Cube.

When you take a moment and sit back and think about what happened from 1970 till now, it seems to begin to look like fate that these bottles finished their time in your possession.  They could have gone anywhere, in this case, each of these bottles had between 13 and 50 years to have landed anywhere else, but they found their way here, to our tasting table.  They’ve seen so many notable points in the human chapters on this planet.  They’ve survived against all odds (wine is very fickle and the older it gets, the harder it is to care for and transport).  They have traveled the globe.  But one can’t help but feel like they chose to end their days with us.  Or maybe it was just dumb luck, who knows?  At least none of them were corked!




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