Cameron Hughes Lot 55 – 2005 Meritage

A good red wine is always tasty, but even better is one with a good story. Cameron Hughes is a bit of a divisive figure in the world o' wine, with some critics assured he's a charlatan while others remain enamored and eager for each new lot. Instead of producing wine himself, Hughes buys up small lots from high-end wineries and blends them to offer (so the story goes) super-premium wine at Costco prices. The idea being, for about $15, you can experience the caliber of wine that would otherwise cost you $300. Finally, pay-with-change winos like me are can truly appreciate wine like we're Frasier Crane!

Personally, I buy into the spin completely. Each Hughes wine I've tried has been at the very least quite intriguing, and at best, sublime. Lot 55 is a favorite: a very tasty red table wine, oaky and smoky and without any bitterness. For all I know, it is comprised of dregs sopped up from the Robert Mondavi employee bathroom, but it certainly tastes sophisticated. Certainly a lot tastier than the dregs I licked off the floor of the Robert Mondavi employee bathroom during my Sideways-inspired wine country tour.

Review by Dagny Debasish