When I picked up this bottle of Cameron Hughes Lot 313, I had no idea what a “field blend” was. With a little research, I discovered that it is an old school way of making wines.
In the old days, winemakers would grow a bunch of different types of grapes — such as cabernet, zinfandel, syrah, etc. — in one field. Then at the end of the season, they would pick whatever grapes were the best, crush them and make a wine out of them.
Every year, the mix of grapes would be different because weather conditions, pests and other factors would determine which varietal would be at its most mature at the time of harvest. While it was a way for winemakers to connect more closely with the pairing of the soil and the sun, it also could be kind of a crap shoot what kind of wine they would get. Some years, these field wines would be just okay while other years they would be transcendent.
Cameron Hughes is a wine negociant out of San Francisco who sells ultra-premium wines under five different brands, one of which is the The Lot Series. While technically Lot 313 is not a field wine because the grapes didn’t come from the exact same field, it is a homage to the technique of creating field wines.
And even though it’s labeled as a California red wine — which means the grapes could have come from anywhere in the state — the grapes in Lot 313 were all grown in Lodi, one of the best wine-growing regions in the country for zinfandel grapes, among others.
When I first tasted Cameron Hughes Lot 313, my initial reaction was, “Wow! What a fruit bomb!” There is nothing subtle about this wine and it’s not for the faint of heart.
Cameron Hughes Lot 313 is a powerful wine with lots and lots of fruit flavor, mostly raspberry but with a little strawberry in it as well. It’s not super tannic — in other words, it won’t pucker your face — but there is a distinct peppery flavor in it at the end.
I drank this right after opening it, but I think it would have benefited from being allowed to breathe for about 30 minutes. Next time, I’ll do that.
Still, it was a robust wine with unexpectedly pronounced fruit flavor. I enjoyed it on its own, but I think it would be a great pairing with boldly flavored foods, such as lamb, venison or something with a whole lot of garlic in it.
It is 71% Zinfandel (my favorite California grape), 10% Petite Syrah, 10% Syrah, and 9% Carignane, which is a grape used in a lot of Italian winemaking but which isn’t that big here in the US. It is 14.5% alcohol.
It also was affordable. I paid $7.64 for the bottle at my local wine market, but that included a 15% discount for buying more than six mixed bottles at a time. For that price, Cameron Hughes Lot 313 gives you a whole lot of wine for your money.
So if you are looking for a great-tasting wine that will blow off the back of your head, or if you want to pay homage to the concept of field wines, check out Cameron Hughes Lot 313. Apparently, they don’t make huge batches of wines in The Lot Series, so you will have to grab it fast if you want to try it.