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New wine review: A Lambrusco from Cameron Hughes


Cameron Hughes Non-Vintage “Soft Red Wine” Lot 841 Lambrusco (Reggiano); $15. Few wines illustrate the heterogeneity of the American public’s taste in wine more than this one. Some people will love it; others won’t. Count me among the latter, but that’s not a diss of the wine so much as an expression of my personal taste. To me, sparkling wine should be pale and elegant, not purple and rather heavy, as this one is. I also prefer dryness in sparklers, and this has a sweet, candied edge. So much of what we like about individual wines, though, depends on we’ve been exposed to, and it may be that my lack of experience with sparkling Lambrusco accounts for my reaction.

As for the wine, it is sparkling, but isn’t particularly fizzy. The froth is barely there, a slight prickliness. Underneath is fulsome fruit: cherries, strawberries, raspberries. The wine is very clean, and the alcohol level is very low, a mere 8.5%, making it by definition gulpable. It also has a bit of the carbonic zip of a young Beaujolais, for which it can be substituted at the table. No question but that it’s well made.

This is not a “serious” wine, if you know what I mean. It’s a “fun” wine, also an adjective that can be misunderstood. The price makes it attractive. The winery itself suggests pairing with charcuterie or hard cheeses; I can’t disagree. Make a platter of salumi (prosciutto, mortadella, salami), paté, olives, sharp cheddar or a hard Italian cheese (Bitto, Pecorino), carrots and zucchini, almonds, sourdough bread, roasted red peppers. Munch, relax, enjoy with friends, and don’t compare this wine with Champagne because it isn’t; but it is what it is. Score: 87 points.

  1. I am reading your fantastic book “A Wine Journey along the Russian river.” Beautiful stuff. So much remains the same …. And so much has changed (“I can’t imagine anyone making a rose of Pinot Noir”).

    Ps – keep the political stuff coming. I’m a recovering republican (founded the Berkeley College Republicans for God’s sake) and appalled by the party, the lack of respect for truth, and a the evil people.

  2. Dear John Ingersoll, thank you so much for your comment about “Journey.” The book was incredible fun to write. My aim was to produce a wine book that would be read and appreciated far into the future, and I think I succeeded. And congratulations on having left the republican party (sorry, I refuse to capitalize it). What an evil, sordid and sick cult they are.

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