In a word, Yum!  It’s Saturday night, and I’ve spent the last several hours visiting my mother in the hospital (she’s doing fine, by the way. Flirting with the young single male help. She’s 90 and disappointed that they won’t flirt back), and talking to the Wineaux Guy on the phone.  He’s in California and while we’ve shared the beauty of the full moon, it’s not the same as his being here and sharing a bottle of wine.  When I decided to open a bottle of wine in order to enjoy the Saturday night, I knew it’d be one of my Hugs.

Hug Cellars wines remind me (in spirit) of Mondavi wines when Robert Mondavi was still alive and in charge of the wines – no matter what they cost, they are always consistent and always good.  And this one is no exception.  It’s better than good, in my opinion.  Let me tell you why.

In the glass, it’s the color of Rhodolite Garnet. That’s a type of Garnet that’s not quite the browny red of the regular Garnet, but has just a hint of fuschia. It’s jewelry and my birthstone, so I should know. The Wineaux Guy was confused.  But then again, he’s a guy and not into jewelry. But he did have an ear pierced in his youth, so there’s hope.

But I digress.

On the nose, the bouquet appears to be much more expensive that it is. Along with the black cherry fruitiness that you’d expect from a California Pinot lies a bit of Burgundian funkiness and Rhodolite garnetearth. There is a touch of the always-needed smoke, along with spice and a bit of leather (think of the natural tanned leather of a Stone Mountain purse.  Okay, maybe the guys won’t quite understand…)

The Wineaux Guy laughed when I said “Oh my goodness, it’s so good!” when I tasted it. And it is.  The palate reflects the nose and is an easy drinker.  The tannins are soft, and the structure of the wine is such that it would pair beautifully with salmon or with lamb.  It isn’t quite burly enough to be a partner to a rich beef or buffalo steak, but then again, it *is* Pinot Noir.  The mouthfeel is almost silky, and makes the experience of drinking this wine very, very pleasurable.  It would be great with food or just to enjoy on a relaxing evening as I did.

This was a terrific wine to share – even long distance – with the Wineaux Guy on a Saturday night, and we both chuckled at my reactions to it.  He had drunk his bottle a couple of weeks earlier since he couldn’t wait for “bottle shock” to fade before enjoying it, and he had loved it even then.  I think I’ll get a couple more bottles to put in my “cellar” and enjoy them through the summer and early fall.

My recommendation is to find it, buy it, and sip it through the summer as a great warm-weather red that will be not only fun to drink, but also fun to pair with your favorite summer fare. It’s $30 on the Hug Cellars website (less if you’re a member. Woo hoo!) and worth the purchase if you live in a state that permits wine shipments. Be Nike. Just do it.

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