In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is either under $10 or close to it.

As we’re always looking for a bargain, when hubby stumbled on a Cameron Hughes wine in the 50% off bin at Vons, he promptly picked it up. Then a day later, there was a spread on Cameron Hughes wines at Costco, with a spokesperson there hawking the wines. He said basically that Hughes gets “first pick” of grapes from many different growers across the world, and then makes his wines based on the grapes he buys. So he doesn’t actually grow his own grapes (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

One of the issues, however, is that he doesn’t produce in quantity in any one year. So the wine at Costco was running low – and Costco likes volume. So Costco was selling the wines at a discount.

Below is my take on two of the wines of Cameron Hughes.

Cameron Hughes Evergreen Series 2006 Chardonnay Carneros Alcohol 14.5% by Volume; $4.50 at half price sale from Vons.

On The Label: “Cameron Hughes Wine is a trading company sourcing ultra premium wines from wineries and growers around the globe. Our Evergreen Series represents year-round availability and demonstrates our commitment to environmental sustainability.

“Our Carneros Chardonnay is sourced from the finest growers and winery partners. Because they produce wines for much more expensive projects they must remain anonymous. A rich multifaceted Chardonnay featuring bright layers of pear, apricot and honeysuckle flabors. Hints of toasted hazelnut and holiday spice complete this elegant wine.

“Through our partnership with, we purchase carbon offsets to ensure our Evergreen Series has zero net carbon impact on our environment. For more information visit”

My Take: I find the label high in the snob factor (“Our Carneros Chardonnay is sourced from the finest growers and winery partners. Because they produce wines for much more expensive projects they must remain anonymous.), plus the lack of commas is appalling. I guess they didn’t think to have anyone look at the label from a grammar standpoint. I guess you could say I’m a label snob; the less on the label, the more I like it. This label gets a huge D- from me.

That said, six years is about the limit you want to take a Chardonnay, especially one under $10 not on sale. This was just on the line of a respectable Chardonnay. I am not sure, though, if I’d waited even a week, that the wine would have been any good.  It was an acceptable accompaniment to the panko-fried fish we had for dinner.

However, I was very surprised at the high alcohol content of this wine. I prefer my whites in the 13% range, and did find this wine a bit astringent.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~  Though I suggest finding a 2009 Chardonnay, and avoiding the 2006 at this point. The good reviews I found were from 2008.

Cameron Hughes Lot 234 2009 Meritage Atlas Peak, Napa Valley Alcohol 14.2% by Volume; $11.99 at Costco.

On The Label: “Cameron Hughes is an international negociant, sourcing and producing small lots of high quality wine from the world’s best regions. Cameron offers a diverse range of wines uniquely represented by the Lot number on this label.

“Lot 234 is rich with wild berries, violet and herbacious flavors. Exotic fruit and savory notes compete for attention. True Atlas Peak. Outstanding.”

My Take: Regarding the label, the snob factor is still there. Plus I’m irritated that they didn’t list the types of grapes melded in this “meritage”. Just because they say it’s one doesn’t mean it is, especially if they don’t name the grapes. Makes me suspicious, but that’s me I guess.

That said, I did enjoy this wine. It’s got a nice flavor, is juicy and big, and went perfectly with our grilled steaks and corn on the cob. I bought two bottles, thinking this is a wine I’ll like, and I’m glad I did as there aren’t any more in Costco.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~

Overall, regarding Cameron Hughes wines, I will not go out of my way to find, or consume, any more. The labels with their snobbish attitude were a huge turnoff. I’d much rather press the hand of the winery owner as I stand in their tasting room, and hear his stories of the latest harvest. I’d much rather stroll the vineyards on a chilly spring morning.  Maybe that’s the California girl in me, but I like having that connection, even when buying wines in the grocery store. Cameron Hughes wines doesn’t go out of their way to reach me as a consumer. They’re targeting someone with a bigger wallet, I guess. And that is totally their prerogative.

Cameron Hughes feels like a big wine corporation, not a person. I prefer my wines to be personable. Am I being unreasonable? Perhaps. But I doubt my opinion will matter that much in the grander scheme of things.

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

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My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!