If you spend any time in the archives of this site, you will see way more than one review of a Hug Cellars wine. Augie and Raquel Hug (yes, that’s a real last name) established Hug Cellars in Paso Robles in 1994, which makes it one of the earliest wineries in the then-unknown region. Hug Cellars was one of the few Paso Robles wineries at the time that could pull off a serious Pinot Noir. If it helps, I never had a bad one.
While I usually have a nice Rosé as a Muse wine, I decided to open up the 2016 Hug Cellars Pinot Noir, 75% Rancho Ontiveros, 25% Steiner Creek Vineyards. There were only 60 cases made. It is, in a word, stunning.
The richness of the wine – both on the nose and palate – speak of a New World wine, but the color and earthiness smack of its Old World origins.
Very recently during a blind tasting, there was (unknown to us) a Pinot Noir in the lineup. Not. One. Person. figured that the wine was a Pinot. Understand that there wasn’t a single rookie in the group; all of us are experienced wine tasters and Sommeliers. We were pissed. None more than I was. I consider myself a heat-seeking missile when it comes to Pinot Noir.
Fast forward a few days to the Hug Cellars Pinot. The only way that you couldn’t figure out that this was Pinot would be if you’d never had a Pinot before. It had typicity in spades.
Although this wine is no longer available, I have to share my assessment of its characteristics.
It is apparently unfiltered, but it is clean. At only 13.5% ABV (remember, this is Paso Robles!), it doesn’t pack a lot of heat.
The nose is exquisite. It smells like Pinot. Okay, perhaps that isn’t quite the description this wine deserves. It certainly wouldn’t be accepted by any of the testing organizations. Earth, raspberries, vanilla, mushrooms, and cranberries are on the nose, which the palate reflects, with food-friendly acidity and soft, rounded tannins to boot. While it’s not quite as silky on the palate as, say, a Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, it still loves my tongue and the wine hugs (no pun intended) and caresses it.
This is easily one of the best Pinots I’ve had this year. If not the best! So sorry that it’s not available anymore. Bodega de Edgar took over the Hug Label after the Hugs retired, and has been steering the label in a different direction. While there are a few bottles of the Hug wines left, I believe that it’s going to be slowly phased out as Edgar concentrates on his own, highly successful and exquisitely delicious wines. (Can we say E²!!)
Now that I’ve sipped a glass or two of this lovely Pinot, excuse me while I get a towel and a cigarette. Yeah. It’s that good.
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