Lot 923 2021 Monterey County Pinot Noir

We have a winner for you today! 91 points. Juicy. Zesty. Full-bodied. Plush. Round and creamy. Those are just a few of the superlatives that past vintages of this Lot 923 have garnered. The source winery is based in Napa, and they are a powerhouse—they have access to some of the very best vineyard sources in all of California, especially in Monterey! And CH Wine Fans, the thing we’re not supposed to say (the thing our Sonoma friends don’t want to admit) is that Monterey might be California’s most “undersung wine region” for growing world-class Pinot Noir grapes—that’s a direct quote from the uber-lux magazine AFAR.

So, what’s the big secret? Shhh…it’s Monterey Bay’s “Blue Grand Canyon.” The positively frigid waters of Monterey Bay’s off-shore mile-deep canyon cause frigid winds to funnel inland at such profound intensity and speeds that trees are permanently bent southeast! But those cooling winds also make for perfect conditions to grow great Pinot grapes—they develop thicker skins to combat the winds, and the wines are fresh, fragrant, and powerful, with racy acidities, which is exactly how we’d describe Lot 923. Throw in heaping doses of juicy black raspberry and plum, a cache of herbs and baking spices, and plush textures. Sounds just like the heavy-bitting benchmark wines of the region from Chalone, Pisoni, Talbott, and Wente! Only some of their top wines run up to $75 per bottle.

Watch or listen as Chris Lafleur, Sommeliers Creed for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting.

Wine Tasting Video Highlights:

00:00 Introduction
00:18 On Monterey County Pinot Noir
00:32 The Color of Lot 923
00:50 On the Nose
01:29 On the Palate
02:14 Wine and Food Pairing
02:42 Where in your cellar?

Tasting Video Transcript:

00:00:08:01 – 00:03:24:15
Chris Lafleur says
Hi, Everyone. Welcome back to the CH Wine Tasting Room. I’m Chris Lafleur. You’re super sommelier. We’re going to be tasting Lot 923, a Monterey Pinot Noir. So let’s go ahead and have a look. Monterey, of course, really pretty. If you’re in San Francisco, it’s worth taking a trip down to go whale watching. I don’t know if they’ll let you take a glass of this on the boat, but you can always ask no harm in that.

Spilled a little wine cause I got excited. But that’s how good this wine is. So immediately it’s. You can see it’s really beautiful. It’s like, crystal clear. I can see my ring right through it from my hand. And it’s just beautiful light, red color. You probably want to call it like light, light ruby or maybe even a touch garnet because the rim is changing so much, but it’s also one that you want to hold up in the sunlight to see how it sparkles.

It’s incredible on the nose. Oh, okay. It is fully dominated by red fruit. There’s a great note of cranberry here, some strawberry, a little bit of raspberry. It’s very effusive. Some Pinot Noirs that I get to taste have a touch of black fruit. But this is completely driven by red. There’s a little bit of earth here. It’s coming through to me a bit as mushroom, maybe like some chanterelles, very expressive and also a touch of fresh turned earth, like the detritus on the forest floor. There’s also a little bit of cedar here, but that’s not to imply that this wine is driven by oak. This wine is completely driven by its fruit character, and this is a nuance of this particular wine.

Let’s taste it. This is becoming too much of a tease. Mm hmm. Oh, I went to go spit, and I forgot because I was tasting and it was so good. I swallowed it. It’s very, very good on the palate. It’s electric. It’s a few of my my palate is like the saliva. It just keeps coming. It’s so my mouth is watering is what I’m trying to say.

This wine is so good. My mouth is watering dramatically. It’s a great wine that’s fruit continues to dominate again. Red fruit, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, covering the palate here with a bit of that forest floor note and a touch of the cedar lingering. But really the fruit is driving the bus on this wine. It’s nice and tart. This is incredible.

I think that if you’re going to have this at your dinner table, this is something to put with your salmon. Not a lot of red wine. You’re going to pair with your fish, so. Well, but this is so light that it’s going to handle it very easily. And also, it’s a great wine to have with friends. If you’ve got some friends over and you want a Pinot Noir, that’s worth talking about.

And as the conversation goes, you continue to find new things. This is the one great notes of Cedar. Like we said, a little bit of earth. With a wine like this. Your friends are going to talk about it for days. Which leads us to where does this fit in your cellar? Well, ideally close to the front of the cellar so you can grab a bottle whenever you’re entertaining guests.

This is a wine that you probably want to get a couple of. So not only can you show your friends once, but show your other friends the next time and then have a bottle to yourself without having to share it. This is an incredible wine that’s got some versatility here, and I think it’s got a little room for age, maybe not too much.

I would say that in six months this is going to be a different wine in a positive way, but too much time might lead it to start to feel a little bit dumb. So have it now and then have it again. So if you looking at the website and thinking how much you should get, the answer is more than one.

And ideally for me, more than six. With that, I’ll let you go and purchase this and I will see you at the next glass.




Lot 858 2020 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

As always, Sonoma County continues to be a source of incredible values – Napa’s larger, more laid-back neighbor continues to offer superb quality for price relative to its more famous peer – an enticing fact in these new days of inflation (and a welcome relief to our pockets). The Alexander Valley AVA is the largest and most fully planted wine region within Sonoma and has been producing critically acclaimed Cabernet since Rodney Strong sold the first vineyard designated Sonoma Cab in the mid 70s.

Lot 858 is a single-vineyard designated Cab under its original label from the region’s benchlands, planted to gravel and sandy loam soils. After harvest and press, the wine was aged in 40% new French oak with the balance aged in first and second pass French oak for well over 20 months. The result is a wine screaming for attention in an otherwise written off market (considering all the attention its Napa neighbors command to this day).

Watch or listen as Chris Lafleur, Sommeliers Creed for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting.

Tasting Video Highlights:

00:00 Intro
00:24 Alexander Valley Cab
01:39 The Color
01:40 The Nose
02:14 The Palate
03:13 Drink now or cellar?
03:51 Food and Wine Pairing




Lot 911 2022 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Sourced from one of the premium Columbia Valley producers we’ve used before (any fans of Lot 910 Sauvignon Blanc?) we knew we had to have this wine the moment we tried it. It’s another fantastic deal from a region in WA where an extra-long day during the summer growing season results in a juicy, fruit-forward, but not over the top wine. Another special note for this wine – don’t be surprised when you open up the box to find your wine without its foil capsule! In an effort to move towards more sustainable practices, we’ll be starting to produce and bottle wines without the disposable capsules. While these bottles may be half-dressed, they are not half baked!

Lot 911 pours rich red, almost opaque in the glass. It opens up with a bouquet of black cherry, blackberry and cassis. Secondary notes of baking spice and tobacco lift out as you swirl your glass. The complexity on the nose at this price point is truly outstanding. On the palate this is a juicy fruit forward wine with really well integrated oak that is so subtle and just adds to the complexity of the flavor rather than over powering the fruit notes of the wine. The tannins are seamless and finishes off the experience to create this graceful, elegant Cabernet. Pair this with hard cheeses or pastas with a robust red sauce – it’ll go great with all the winter offerings you have on your table. At only $15 this is a versatile wine to keep on hand, you’ll never feel bad opening up this one on a random weeknight to go with dinner.

Watch or listen as Wanda Mann, Wine Writer and Educator, walks us through a tasting and discusses this exciting sparkling wine.

Tasting Video Highlights:

00:00 Intro
00:18 The Capsule?
00:56 The Color
01:37 The Palate
02:06 Pairing Ideas




Lot 917 2021 Wahluke Slope Merlot

Cameron Hughes Wine Lot 917 effortlessly combines deliciousness and pedigree into one irresistible package.

Sustainable, expertly crafted, and delicious—that’s our Lot 917 2021 Wahluke Slope Merlot in a nutshell. This 2021 Merlot hails from “Sustainable WA” certified vineyards in the Wahluke Slope, an area of eastern Washington that’s been gaining serious traction among red wine lovers year after year since its official recognition in 2006.

Named after a Native American word meaning “watering place,” Wahluke Slope is actually one of the drier spots in Washington state, all of it sitting on a large alluvial fan with incredibly uniform, gravelly soils that evoke regular comparisons to the world’s foremost Merlot powerhouse region: Right Bank Bordeaux. Bordered by the Columbia River, Saddle Mountains, and Hanford Reach National Monument, there are only 20 vineyards in Wahluke Slope, and almost all of them grow incredible Merlot grapes.

Watch or listen as Nicole Muscari, your Pocket Wine Advisor, walks us through a tasting.

Tasting Video Highlights:

00:00 Intro
00:43 The Color
00:53 The Nose
01:25 The Palate
02:05 Wine Pairing




Lot 916 2021 Sonoma County Sparkling Rosé

Cameron Hughes Wine Lot 916 offers a vintage Champagne-style experience for a fraction of the vintage-Champagne price.

Get ready to celebrate because Lot 916 is here to give you plenty of vintage Champagne-style drinking at a fraction of Champagne’s lofty prices. The grapes came from a coveted Sonoma source in this 2021 vintage, but just about everything else about this sparkler screams top-shelf French bubbly. We dare you to pour it blind for your friends and see if they can tell it’s from California—we couldn’t!

Stylistically, Lot 916 takes its cue from the best of Champagne’s vintage sparklers. First, it’s composed of 90% Pinot Noir, 6% Chardonnay, and 4% Pinot Meunier, just like wines from the best sparkling wine houses of northern France. Next, it’s made in the Méthode Champenoise style, with a secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle to capture the biscuit-like, brioche character that marks the best of Champagne. Finally, the dosage delivers a mere six grams per liter of sugar, making it Brut or Extra Brut in style and hence, fresh, energetic, and exceedingly dry with a lovely mineral finish.

Equally as impressive is the winemaking team behind Lot 916, which consists of veterans who are experts in the traditional method of sparkling wine production (having done stints at the likes of J Vineyards and Winery, Balletto Vineyards, Delicato Wines, and Clos du Bois). Their bubbles regularly score 90+ points with top-tier critics, and have taken home Gold and Double Gold medals at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, Sonoma County Harvest Fair, the Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge, and the International Women’s Wine Competition.

Watch or listen as Nicole Muscari, your Pocket Wine Advisor, walks us through a tasting.

Tasting Video Highlights:

00:00 Intro
00:18 Méthode champenoise
00:54 The Color
01:02 The Nose
01:32 The Palate
01:45 Pairing or Aperitif
02:12 Where in your cellar?




Lot 906 2021 Wahluke Slope Red Blend

Cameron Hughes Wine Lot 906 is a ripe-styled, full-bodied, intense, and richly-flavored red blend made from grapes with significantly smaller berry sizes translating into an incredible concentration of flavor and structure.

Red blends are absolutely on fire lately and have always been one of our top sellers. Wines like Lot 906 2021 Wahluke Slope Red Blend demonstrate why that’s the case. (Red Blend fans will want to think about buying multiple bottles, why? Keep reading!)

This red blend from Washington State’s Columbia Valley showcases a unique, record-setting vintage for the region. 2021 absolutely shattered temperature records in eastern Washington, with a historic heat dome settling over the area. For an average wine-growing region, this would have been potentially disastrous. But because of the incredible vineyard management talent and overall health of the vines in Columbia Valley in general, the source vineyards for Lot 906 weathered the heat like champions, producing high-quality, intensely flavored, power-packed fruit (particularly for the region’s red wine varieties).

Berry sizes were significantly smaller, translating into grapes with an incredible concentration of flavor and fantastic structure (thanks to a higher than normal skin-to-pulp ratio, meaning more tannins to go along with all of that ample dark fruit action). The catch? Yields were way, way down, and much less red wine was made in 2021 as a result.

Watch or listen as Chris Lafleur, Sommeliers Creed for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting.

Tasting Video Highlights:

00:00 Intro
00:22 GSM and Wahluke
01:48 The Nose
02:30 The Color
02:48 The Palate
04:00 Where in your cellar?




Lot 863 2019 Russian River Valley Chardonnay

Defined by the fog bank that blankets the region, and home to rare ancient sandstone seabed soils, the Russian River Valley is known the world over as a preeminent, cool climate winegrowing region, famous in equal parts for its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. The latter is on offer today exclusively to this list’s members, another tasting room-only casualty from the early days of Covid shutdowns that we grabbed to pass the savings on to you!

Lot 863 is a pinnacle example of this region’s ability to bring its fruit to exceptional maturity and not be marred by being over-oaked. A 60/40 oak and stainless blend that saw malolactic fermentation, it’s equally enjoyable for the diehard ‘classic Cali Chard’ fans and the ‘varietally correct’ camp of stainless-steel Chard lovers, culminating in one of the most balanced, beloved, and approachable expressions of Chardonnay we came across from the 2019 vintage. Add in blue chip estate pedigree and a winemaker with decades of experience with the fruit of this region, and you have one of the best Chardonnay values all year.

Watch or listen as Chris Lafleur, Sommeliers Creed for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting of this Russian River Chardonnay.

Tasting Video Highlights:

00:00 Intro
00:16 2019 Vintage Chards
01:18 The Nose
01:59 The Palate
02:54 Where in your cellar?




Lot 875 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Cameron Hughes Wine Lot 875 is an exclusive Cabernet release from a top Napa house!

Napa Valley is famous the world over for exceptional Cabs, and occasionally, we come across one of the very top houses cutting bait with exclusive, tasting room only, reserve program, or single vineyard bottlings, however, the price isn’t always right. That’s not the case this go around. One of the tightest NDAs we signed late last year allowed us to find the perfect intersection of exceptional wine at an extraordinary value.

Lot 875 is produced by a house that essentially defines Napa pedigree with triple-digits running the cost of entry. All their releases are in the barrels-to-low case count quantities, so exclusive is something they embody to the fullest. As such, the quantity of what we have to offer today is hyper-limited, and all we can tell you about this wine is it’s 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 100% New French oak aged, and a one-off score from a discontinued program at the original winery. This is a bottle that may seem unassuming but is in fact a collector’s item.

Watch or listen as Chris Lafleur, Sommeliers Creed for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting.

Tasting Video Highlights:
00:00 Intro
00:32 On Napa Valley
01:08 The Color
01:38 The Nose
02:30 The Palate
03:16 Where in your cellar?




Lot 860 2020 Lodi Malbec

When we went to source Lot 850 for our program – the spiritual successor to Lot 540 – we were presented with the opportunity to taste some additional wines that could possibly be added in to augment the juice, most notably some Petite Sirah (which became Lot 861) and some Malbec. Both were identified by our in-house team as awesome expressions, and as they say, the rest is history!

Lot 860 is as equally nurtured by our Napa team and barrel program as its sister wines and showcases a more Bordelaise lean than one would expect from traditionally fruit-forward Lodi wines. In part, this was achieved by an early harvest due to the 2020 fire season (and a deft field team knowing to cut before the onset of smoke), however, the real magic was the 12+ months in French oak, making for a more Bordeaux-styled expression in bottle with plenty of nuance and character. This is not like the high-altitude expressions from Argentina, nor is it trying to be like those. This is wonderfully dirty, dusty Malbec with a strong sense of place.

Watch or listen as Chris Lafleur, Sommeliers Creed for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting.

Tasting Video Highlights:

00:00 Intro
00:22 Lodi and Malbec
00:51 The Color
01:07 The Nose
02:08 The Palate
02:53 Oak Program
03:29 Where in your cellar?




Lot 850 2020 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon

When one speaks about a cult following, usually things like the movie Blade Runner, or the “Marquee Moon” album from the band Television come up in context; in our world certain Lots come to mind: 200, 609, 643, 717, just to name a few. It’s been quite some time since we finished the incredible run of fan favorite and often asked about (still, today) Lot 540. Today, we finally bring you the spiritual successor to that cult followed Lot, and considering the inflation we’re all faced with nowadays, at an outstanding price for the members of this list!

Lot 850, much like its predecessor Lot 540, is a Lodi fruit-bomb Cab that we brought in and amped up with a more-refined barrel program (Napa barrels with Lodi fruit – a tried and true pairing, just ask the cult fanbase of the predecessor). Nurtured and completed in-house by our Napa winemaking team, the result is a very approachable Cab that’s just as at home with takeout as it is with a slab of Wagyu direct from Japan (the idea of all that buttery steak umami with a wash of this vanilla-flecked, fruit-forward Cab has a few stomachs rumbling around these parts).

Watch or listen as Chris Lafleur, Sommeliers Creed for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting.

Tasting Video Highlights:

00:00 Intro
00:20 Lodi and Cab Sauv
01:16 The Color
01:33 The Nose
02:24 The Palate
03:23 Drink now or lie down?
04:02 Where in your cellar?