Hughes Family Vineyards Zinfandel Vertical (3)

Hughes Family Vineyards Zinfandel Vertical 3-Pack
$69.99 $130.00 46% off List Price
2009 Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley, Wild Turkey Vineyard
2007 Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley, Wild Turkey Vineyard
2008 Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley, Wild Turkey Vineyard
CT links above

Winery website

Previous offer:

Looking at the website, these three Zins are availiable.

Both the 2008 and the 2009 are marked as reserve wines but there are no non reserve wines to go with them. Why is that? What is the significance of the reserve label? Is it purely marketing or was there actually other wine that doesn’t get marketed under this label? If the latter, what % of the total product is deemed “reserve” in a typical year?

Note: this is certainly not a knock on the wine. I had the 2008 back in October and it was a damn solid Zin

I tried the 2009 Hughes Family Zin Wild Turkey Vineyard with a couple friends over dinner. It started out overripe and a touch hot for my preference but, after a long slow-ox period, it lost the heat and gained some flavors that brought the wine closer to balance. If you like big ripe wines, this one is for you. Here were my detailed notes:

Big ripe nose of blackberry, boysenberry, deep strawberry and toasted oak; almost jammy but not quite there. A touch of heat coming out on the nose, I’m guessing 15%. Cherry and blackberry on the palate with nice acidity and a tart finish of under-ripe blackberry; has some bitterness to the finish as well.

I magically acquired a bottle of the 2008 and tried to put it through its paces for my fellow wooters…

Quick Summary: Pretty good wine. Nice tannins, and it started out with a long finish and fairly complex melody of flavors, including dark red fruits (black cherry, blackberry), earth/leathery tones, and a bit of spice. Much better freshly opened…time out of the bottle and aeration didn’t do it any favors, and the flavor profile change was pretty drastic. I’d recommend pairing it with high acidity foods (tomato-based sauces) or dark chocolate.

Full Notes

Appearance – I admit I don’t tend to notice wine color and clarity much unless I’m reviewing. This one was a very pretty garnet color though. It has nearly perfect clarity when held up to the light, but was a deep blood-red color. A bit of sediment stuck in the shoulder of the bottle, but almost none made it into the glasses at any point of our consumption.

Aroma – Blackberry and dark cherry. A little funk (mushroom/earthy smell) that dissipates off after a few minutes.

First Taste…

Me: Get the blackberry and dark cherry in the taste, too, but it’s certainly not a fruit bomb. Lots of complexity with hints of leather and maybe even some of the nutmeg/licorice type of spice in there. Well structured, long finish, nice tannins.

SO: Berries, but dark ones, not bright (i.e., not strawberry or bright cherry). There’s oak/toasty on the back. Some of those grassy notes, too. Right amount of finish (for my taste)…dry, not syrupy or “pruney”.

A little through the venturi twice…

Me: Huh…that really diminished the fruit.

SO: That’s a lot tarter. I like this much less.

(So, I immediately started keeping the bottle sealed and pouring a glass for us to share at a time, since that was a hint aeration wasn’t going to help this wine.)

With a fruit and cheese plate…

It wasn’t a great cheese wine (not surprising from a zin). It was too strong/tart for many of the milder cheeses. It was ok with the bleu, but it was kind of like the tart in the cheese accented the tart in the wine. It was best with a more complex pear + bleu cheese combo.

With dinner 1 (grilled filet mignon, baked potato, grilled asparagus)…

Me: The food and maybe the time out of the bottle (<3 hours from opening, still) has made this taste astringent and less interesting. The tannins and structure are still there (and nice), but the flavors are boring. Instead of the complex flavors before I’m getting a blunt vegetal flavor in the middle, maybe even a little bit of acetone. Some oak/caramel on the back-end the grilled food brings out.

SO: I get caramel with the food and much less fruit. This taste like a more generic red wine (cheapish, not bad, but nothing special) when paired with dinner.

Assessment on day 2…

We left it closed up (just a wine stopper in it) on the counter overnight. We poured a glass before dinner the second day.

Me: This has an alcohol/hot smell to me now that I detect in a lot of zins. Maybe it’s a bit of the acetate profile, also some vegetal notes to it. Red fruit is much more in the background now. Some of the less pleasant “hot smell” dissipates or softens as I swirl. Tasting it also confirms the fruit is way in the background of the profile. It’s almost like the grapes turned to raisins on me overnight, and there’s a dried fruit flavor to it that I associate with a lot of Paso Robles Zins…prunes, maybe a bit of orange peel. In general this is a much more one-dimensional wine now.

SO: Fruit is almost gone. I don’t know what to call it now but olive-y or prune-y. (After a nibble of bleu cheese) The cheese really overwhelms it now. The flavors just really aren’t there anymore.

With Dinner 2 (pasta with sun dried tomatoes, bacon, spinach, goat cheese)…

Me: The tomato acidity really helps revive this wine. I’m sorry I didn’t open it on pasta day, now. It brings some of the fruit back to the wine, and the tannins and structure are appreciated with the food.

SO: Better with the pasta. More red fruit that had been missing.

With a bite of dark chocolate…
Me: Another great pairing here. The two flavors meld together very well and enhance each other.

Final Thoughts – I’m in a unique position because I got to taste the Syrah last time (detailed review if you search for it, but I’m not sure it’s relevant since this is a zin-only offering) and really liked it. The Syrah experience may have tweaked my expectations for this wine too high, and I was disappointed by how quickly this wine degraded after opening. If the offering involved Hughes Syrahs, I’d be ALL over it, but for the zins the QPR starts to slip for me. If you’re in the market though, it’s worth giving this pack a try. Besides, verticals are fun.

Ok, so I had a mysterious monkey note left on my door last week. It said to meet him in a secret spot the next day. Mentioned he had something so special he would exchange it only for my signature. Intrigued, I went ahead and did the deal.

Went home, opened the small box and there sits a bottle of 2007 Hughes Family Vineyards Zinfandel, Wild Turkey Vineyard. Great! I like Zin, kind of picky about the style I like, so curious to see what we have here. And my lovely bride(LB) loves a good Zinfandel as well.

Let it stand up for a couple of days, just a wisp of sediment. Popped the (real)cork. Poured a couple of glasses.

Nice clear ruby color, hint, maybe, of bricking. Nothing particularly leggy for those of you interested.

Nose, me spicy, maybe a touch of heat. LB, cherry.

Time to drink…err, taste.

Oh oh. Me, no fruit, as in NO fruit. Gritty short/no finish. Tart. LB, bell pepper, no fruit, no finish. End with a bite.

Went back to this over the evening, really not changing. Tried a little bit the next morning, no drinking problem(well maybe a bit), just heading out of town, no change really. LB tried the next evening, no change.

Curious to see if any other notes on the '07. Without ever having the wine so nothing to compare it to, I’m really thinking this was just a bad bottle. Wasn’t cooked or oxidized. Wasn’t spoiled. Both myself and LB pretty sensitive to TCA so not corked. But something stripped this bottle of like all discernible fruit. Either that or what we drank is as it is now.

Hi Cmaldoon- Regarding your Reserve question… as the demand for our wines have increased, we have began to reserve a portion of each vintages as “library wines” to offer in a vertical.

Diane w/Hughes Family Vineyards

Diane - Thanks for coming on! If the one bottle I tasted in the past is representitive, you guys make some very nice wine.

Thank you very much for offering your Vertical here, always a treat to see how different years create different wines.

Is the 2009 your current release? It would appear so on your website (though there are many a beloved winemaker here that spend far more attention to their wine than their website [Wellington])

As the 2009 here and on your website are both labeled “Special Reserve” do you bottle a less expensive non-reserve bottling for those who are interested?

Hi cmaloon,

I too love tasting verticals. I agree, it is always fun tasting the different years and seeing the slight variation in each.

Yes the 2009 is our lastest release and no there is not a “non-reserve” or less expensive bottle. We do have a Special going on the Website with the promotion code HUGHES when you buy a case or feel free to call or email us at the winery if you have any questions.

PS We make a fabulous Chardonnay too in very limited quantities, if you enjoy white wines.
thanks ~
Diane w/Hughes Family Vineyards

Same bottle, same dinner for SWMBO and I.

PnP I was getting tons of oak on the nose as well as heat. Decided it had to go into the decanter. We had many other wines to pick from so we set this aside for at least an hour or more. Came back to it, still too much heat and oak for my liking. Stewed overripe fruit on the nose, leaning toward dark cherry and bramble. Medium tannin, mild acid, and a medium minus finish. Finished sour and unpleasant. Kept coming back after multiple hours in decanter but it never improved. Had a tough time even finishing the small pours. SWMBO and I did not like this wine.

It is possible that we got a off bottle (definitely not corked) due to bottling variation. As a caveat I am particularly sensitive to oak treatment, and this one was way off the scale for me. SWMBO is typically not sensitive, but this was overboard for her as well.

A wootoff with out Copa



Hi Daine,

Thanks for jumping in with us. So the winery made two different labels and labeled some bottles with one non-reserve label and some bottles with the reserve label?

Hi Kaolis-

I am sorry the 07 Zinfandel did not work for you. It very well may have just been a bad bottle. I am not sure where you are located but you can try all our wines in Sonoma, CA at The Annex. I encourage you to it another try… While you are at it go ahead and give them “all” a try.

As with all our wines we wait patiently for our wines to reach perfection before bottling.

Thanks ~
Diane w/Hughes Family Vineyards

Hi Kylemittskus

They are all Signature Reserved

Diane ~

Hi Cyradia-

Thank you for your detail review, we always appreciate others thoughts.

I have to say I too like it with dark chocolate. I also enjoy this wine with chili and also with filet mignon. We had filet mignon the other night, and with the leftover meat and sautéed mushrooms I made a pizza the next night with 3 different cheese and all blended very nice the pizza and the wine.
You may like the 2009 and / or 2007 better.
Again thanks for your thoughts
Diane w/Hughes Family Vineyards~

wow… that sounds very different than the 2008 I had before. I know i am not as Oak sensitive as you are but the one I had was much more balanced.

Here’s my previous review for everyone:

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.

So, to return to cmladoon’s question above, what’s the significance of the “reserve” on the label if there isn’t a non-reserve version?

A Midwest guy here but a trip your way scheduled for August. I’ll try and stop in for a taste.

I was curious about this. It appears to be more of a marketing thing than a real distinction.