Pop-Up Wine Special: Only for SFoodie Readers
Planning to write about pairing wine with roast chicken, I went back through months of tasting notes looking for the right Chardonnay: great flavor, great price. It turned out to be a Chilean Chardonnay imported by San Francisco negociant Cameron Hughes.
Cameron Hughes, the man, and Cameron Hughes, the wines.
Hughes buys wine that wineries are having trouble selling, bottles it under his own label, and sells it cheaply. Other companies do the same thing, but Hughes is one of the best.
Because he doesn't make the wine himself, his wines are stylistically all over the place: big Napa Cabs, gamy Central Coast Syrahs, and different Chardonnays to appeal to young wine lovers or cougars whose taste buds are dying. He tastes hundreds of wines and picks ones he thinks will sell, or just ones he likes. The wine in question here is the latter.
We tasted 36 wines together. Lot 226 Casablanca Valley (Chile) Chardonnay 2008 ($15) was my very favorite: "Nice toasty aroma," I wrote on my own blog. "Green apple and lime flavors with good balance and a long finish. Fairly ripe but not overdone. Outstanding value."
Hughes said it was also his favorite, but because it's $15 and from Chile, "it's hard to sell. People don't want to buy Chilean wines. It's a pain in the ass."
Still, this was in April, and Hughes is a good wine salesman. I e-mailed him recently to see whether the wine was still available and learned that not only does he still have it, it's not in stores anywhere in the United States. It was only available by mail order until now.
Hughes has a retail sales license for his offices at 444 De Haro (at Mariposa), suite 101, in the same building as Zynga. I told him I wanted to recommend his wine, but didn't want my readers to be bothered by mail-ordering and paying for shipping.
So he offered to bring some cases in from the warehouse and sell them directly to SFoodie readers, which he doesn't ordinarily do.
It's a wine pop-up: a one-shot, only-in-San Francisco wine, made by one of Chile's best wineries, which doesn't want to give its name because if the winery name were on the bottle, the wine would cost a lot more. That's how Hughes' business works.
Here's what you do: Head over to Cameron Hughes' office in Potrero Hill, $15 in hand. Tell him SFoodie sent you. Or don't: There ain't nobody else telling people to go to a negociant's office to buy a Chilean Chardonnay.
Buy the wine. Buy a chicken and roast it, or get takeout. Voila, great wine pairing. Why buy wine from the supermarket when you can get something stores don't have? If you see Hughes, tell him I said hi. You might also ask him what else he's got. You won't like everything, but he has enough interesting wines coming and going all the time that we can guarantee you'll like something.
Cameron Hughes Lot 226 Casablanca Valley (Chile) Chardonnay 2008 ($15)
444 De Haro (at Mariposa), # 101
San Francisco, CA 94107-2349