The first time I learned of de Negoce, (tip of the hat to Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon), I thought, "Man, I'll bet Cameron Hughes wishes he still had his company at a time like this." Of course, Hughes is the man behind this new venture which, while branded as de Negoce, is appropriately named Phoenix Wine Company.
Following a fantastic run fueled by incredible discounts on high quality excess wine during the great recession, Cameron Hughes Wine found itself in financial trouble. After going into receivership, the company was purchased out of bankruptcy by Vintage Wine Estates, which lists around 40 brands under its umbrella. Is it a coincidence that the acquisition was almost exactly five years ago? Expiring non-compete, perhaps?
Regardless, current conditions are ripe for a repeat of Hughes' approach, which, in 2010 led me to ask if he wasn't the smartest guy in the wine business.
This time around, though, he seems to be taking what was an innovative approach and adding touches of genius informed by tough experience. De Negoce sells only by the case and only on futures, which means very limited financial risk to Mr. Hughes. It'll be interesting to see how he does with it.
Special thanks to my buddy Pete for the gift of OG No. 17, my first introduction to this new label.
2018 de Negoce Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley OG No. 17 $12
Classic Napa cab done well and priced even better. Deep, dark fruit aromatics are accented by pretty floral perfumes on the nose. This gives way to more black fruit and cassis flavors framed by structured tannins and refined oak. All of these attributes make for a lovely wine, but what wraps the package nicely is how no single attribute is overblown; instead, all exist in harmonious balance. Such a banging value!