Cameron Hughes is no stranger to this site or to the wine world. His reputation as a negociant is well-earned, consistently delivering quality bottles of wine under his own label at sensible, affordable price points. His latest endeavor, de Négoce (pronounced “day nuh-go-shay”), takes things up a level and makes things a bit more interesting than his flagship label.
Hughes and his associates source and contract a wine and play the futures market with their selections. It takes a bit for the wine to ship, but the payoff is that one receives a $20 de Négoce selection which could potentially retail for $100 under a winery’s own label. A hefty amount of trust needs to be placed in Hughes’ process, but his track record provides evidence to support a good faith effort from his end. We received a few selections from the program. Let’s taste.
2018 OG de Négoce N.17 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – Lots going on here, all of it rich and dark with notes of cherry jam, cigar box, and black pepper. The palate features a hearty burst of clove and baking spice with a wave of blackberry and raspberry towards the finish. Wonderfully well-balanced and approachable either solo or when paired with food. A / $25
2018 OG de Négoce N.50 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon – Savory and brooding, with notes of blackberry and baked apple kicking things off and an undercurrent of tobacco leaf subtly under the surface. The palate stays restrained, and the tobacco leaf is complemented by a faint touch of cocoa powder. It’s impressive now but could prove to be quite a memorable bottle if stored and forgotten someplace for a few years. A- / $25
2019 OG de Négoce Lot 226 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc – A bit overwhelming at first with lime and lemon zest doing a back and forth routine before settling into palate of heavy florals, freshly cut grass, and a small but intriguing minerality. The finish runs short, but is heavy with gooseberry and a return to citrus. Not yet available in their shop, but forthcoming. Keep an eye out for this one. A- / $NA
2019 OG de Négoce N.176 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – Bright and fruity, with notes of cherry, strawberry, and rose running throughout. There’s a bit of spice on the back end, with a cherry compote and bergamot character that gives it an incredibly nuanced but satisfying finish. B+ / $16
2019 OG de Négoce N.185 Russian River Chardonnay – A note of custard on top, with layers of toasted brioche, baked apples and orange zest all emerging in good form on the palate. The finish lingers on for a generous amount of time, full of white peach and the oak influence gently peeking in to make an appearance. For Chardonnay lovers, there’s nothing not to like here. B+ / $14
2018 OG de Négoce N.25 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon – 82% cabernet sauvignon, 13% cabernet franc, 5% malbec. Heavy vanilla and eucalyptus character dominate at first, and it is well advised to let this one sit for more than a few minutes. Thankfully, matters calm down and notes of blackberry and oak start to show themselves. A very all-encompassing glass that demands your full attention, and quite the deal at this price. B+ / $29
Newcomers to the world of wine may find the methodology slightly intimidating, with no real roadmap to follow. But with the reasonable price points, it could prove to be a fun and adventurous experience without needlessly breaking the bank. It will be interesting to see how this project evolves over time.