Hughes Family Syrah/Zinfandel (3)

Hughes Family Syrah/Zinfandel 3-Pack
$69.99 $130.00 46% off List Price
2 2008 Hughes Family Vineyards Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley
1 2008 Hughes Family Vineyards Syrah, Sonoma Valley
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Winery website

Hughes Family Vineyards – Signature Reserve – 2008 – Sonoma Valley – Zinfandel – Wild Turkey Vineyard

Bottle taken from temperature controlled wine cabinet. Opened, poured into a split which was recorded and returned to wine cabinet. Poured a glass from the remaining half. Initial notes at 30 min out of bottle.

Color – a deep red reminiscent of many young cabs. On the purplish side.

Nose – About a 5/10 on power here you have to stick your nose up to the glass to get a whiff. Cherry, tobacco, a bit of vanilla. There are some dark green notes like an olive and a hint of soy.

Palate: About 7/10 in concentration here. Just about everything I like in a Zinfandel. On the entrance there is a bit of sweet and sour going on. Balanced acidity and sweet dark red fruit (perception of sweetness not likely any sugar left in this wine). The fruit builds impressively through the mid palate filling my mouth with cherry/strawberry preserves with a touch of dustiness. After the crest of the fruit, tannins that are in the middle between drying and chalky resolve out of the dusty character and come with a nicely integrated oaky characteristic. The dust and slightly vanilla oak stick around in the back of my mouth for 30+ seconds.

Impression: I really like this wine! (And I certainly don’t always say that for wines on woot.). This wine is what I had hoped the Vino Nocetto Reserva Sangiovesse would be like. I love the combination of decent concentration, ripe but not overripe or overbearing fruit, a great somewhat drying mouthfeel and a notable finish. If you are a fan of very smooth very round wines, this is not for you. If you like a balanced wine that also has some decent tannins, this wine could be for you.

3 hours later, the last mouthful pretty much matches the notes from above. The finish wasn’t quite as awesome but that could just be end of the day fatigue on my part. Still a tasty wine.

Notes on the taster’s preferences:
I like Cabernets, Syrahs, and Tempranillos best.
I prefer significant concentration (5-9 out of 10)
I lean somewhat toward new world styling
Palate holds more weight than Nose to me
I crave a good finish
I enjoy tannins, preferring chalky but accepting harder ones
I enjoy aged notes but like them in balance with fruit
I do not like mushrooms notes as found in many Pinot noirs

Hughes Family Syrah Signature Reserve 2008: Mysterious bottle acquired and enjoyed…tasting notes below…

Quick Summary: This is a serious looking and serious tasting wine. It’s very dark and a bit cloudy in appearance (suspended sediment) and full bodied on the tongue with a lot of tannins and a long finish. To me it calls for a fireplace and a grilled rib-eye…and maybe a bit of a special occasion where you want to really notice your wine as part of the meal. It deserves to be noticed.

Full Notes

P-N-P Appearance – Really, really dark (like all good syrahs). It looks a bit cloudy when held up to the light. There seems to be a healthy supply of sediment suspended in this wine…and swirling it actually causes small pieces to stick to the sides of the glass and I can see it pooling at the bottom. This bottle arrived to me 5 days ago, so it might have settled out if I had let it cellar some. The sediment did not distract me one little bit while enjoying it…so no complaints here.

P-N-P Aroma - Black and red berry jam….maybe a little bit of leather on the back

First Taste
Me: Might need the venturi and the decanter this evening. Seems tight and not the fruit jam delivery I was expecting. Body is very heavy….matches the opaque chewy appearance. Betting the acidity is high. Lots of tannins and a long finish. As for the taste…I’m a bit at a loss. Something in the herbaceous side of the wheel seems the best match…maybe a bit of black olive or cut grass.

SO: Chocolate on the front. Astringent in the middle and almost bitter on the back

Through the venturi and swirled heavily for several moments
Me: Better. This wine has a lot of potential but is hard to get to know. Still heavy bodied and acidic, but smoother after the aeriation. I am still struggling with flavor description…maybe some dried fruit and fresh herbs.

SO: Fruit aromas is less. The taste is better “blended” after the venturi. Before I got a disjointed beginning, middle, and end, now all the pieces are in harmony.

With cheese plate
Me: It bullied the lighter cheeses on the plate (namely a brie & the beehive cheese from a previous woot – side note, that beehive cheese is awesome!!). It even bullied the bread soaked in oil& balsamic vinegar, imo. However, with the strong bleu cheese it was wonderful.

SO: I like it with the cheese better than without. I really like it with the bleu. I like it better venturied than not. [Then a few minutes later…] I like this wine.

With Various Foods

Day 1 Dinner (Smoked Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, Snow Peas) – This was more of an exercise in what not to pair with this wine. The food and wine did not do each other any favors, and much like the lighter cheese the wine overwhelmed the smoked chicken and potatoes. It did especially poorly with anything sweet. So, I experimented with a bite of chicken in BBQ sauce and then a sip of the wine, and they really fought each other. However, unrelated to the food, the wine itself became more enjoyable as it continued to open up, but it really overwhelmed the food.

Dark Chocolate – I tried this pairing as well, and much like the BBQ sauce experience…it did not go especially well. Any sweetness next to this wine causes the wine to seem especially bitter and takes it in the wrong direction.

Day 2 Dinner (Meatloaf) – First of all, the wine continues to open up with age, and by day two it was really a show piece. The beef was much closer to what this wine needs. I still think it needs something a little stronger and grilled, but the fat in the beef was a very good pairing with it.

Final Thoughts – I do not think anybody would use this wine for a daily sipper or carelessly pull it from the rack. It needs to be thoughtfully paired and probably decanted a healthy amount. I think it has a lot of potential to be a real jewel, however. I am also very curious about its aging prospects. I am still a novice at being able to identify wines that will age well, but my gut says this is probably one I would like to meet 5-10 years from now. As I write up these notes, I do not know the price of this wine, but am very curious. I certainly feel like I got treated to a special bottle of wine.

Having seen the price I am pleasantly surprised. If the Zin is as good as the Syrah, this is a real treat.

I happened upon a bottle of the 2008 Zin. Usually try to taste these blind, but didn’t pull this off ahead of time. So, when I saw a zin, next thing I did was look at the % alcohol, which rang in at 14.7%, which gave me hope that this wouldn’t be a fruit bomb. The big reason I do not like the over extracted fruit bomb is I tend to get overwhelmed with the alcohol.

Pop n Pour/15’:
Color: Dark garnet color, clear
Nose: black berry/blue berry jam, a little spice.
Palate: Again, jammy, but not overwhelming. Med to full body with rounded tannins, no astringency noted. Overall, seems quite well balanced. It had a long lasting finish with just a touch of heat at the end.

1 hr later:
Nose: similar, jammy–rasp/blue/black berry.

Palate: similar to nose, not harsh, nicely balanced. Jammy, but not sweet/cloying. A little spice, too. Long finish with a little more heat at the end.

Overall, I liked it. I feel this is a nicely balanced zin, and not a big, bold, over-extracted fruit bomb.

My preferences are more in the old world style.

Nice notes guys. After yesterday’s purchase I am out for awhile but you do make these sound tasty. Good work.

Three early-posted notes from seasoned wooters. Well done.

I agree with Kyle. Nice job guys.

You definitely have my attention.

Now, could you compare the Zinfandel to any other recent Woot favorites?

For instance, how would you compare/contrast it to say Wellingtons Sonoma Zins?

Hi Cmaldoon-
Thank you for such an in-depth review. Sounds like you know and appreciate good wine.

Hi Cesare-
Love the quote by Taber! I will have to remember that one! Thanks~

Hi CMaldoon -
Thank you for your in-depth review. Glad you liked the Zin.

Thanks for spending some time with us do you have any additional specs like PH, TA, brix etc.

Hi Cyradia-
thank you for your comments. I love the Zin just as much as the Syrah. Especially with Risotto, a favorite of mine or Bolognese Pasta

Since the winemaker is around, I do have a question…what type of drinking window would you put on these? Age them a long time? Best now?

Hi Cortot20 ~
The Syrah pH is 3.76 and TA is 6.06 the Zinfanel pH is 3.71 and TA is 6.46
Hope that answers your question.

Diane w/Hughes Family Vineyards

I think that this is a step above wellington’s Zins in my memory (sorry Peter!) not as big a nose but I liked the palate and feel a bit more.

Not as oaky as Pedroncelli mother clone and also a bit more refined than that.

I would probably best equate it most closely with the dry creek vineyards heritage zin but with a bigger backbone.

Hi Cyradia ~
I am not the winemaker, but thanks for the complement! I work with Hughes in the office and in the concierge, but I have been in contact with both Keith and Cherie Hughes with most of the questions.

Their experience has been that these keep aging exceptionally well as they are “single” vineyard wines - no blending. Thus the grapes all age nicely together. You can drink now and put some up for later.
Thanks ~
Diane / Hughes Family Vineyards