The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2013

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Page 47 of 148

WINEMAKER DINNER An Evening with Augie Hug photos by Erica Bartel M entored by Central Coast Rhône varietal trailblazer John Alban, Augie Hug began buying grapes and learned under the master, making 87 cases of his irst Edna Valley Syrah in 1994. "For nine years, John allowed me to make wines at his facility," notes Hug with pride and admiration. In 2003, he moved to Paso Robles to make wines with Mat Garretson, the founding father of Paso's celebrated Hospice du Rhône. Just those short few years ago, wine writers and buyers were skeptical about the region, but the wines and winemakers soon began making names for themselves. The land, the consultants and the cost of living are less expensive than in Napa and Sonoma, so the inlux of the mediocre—or even bad—grew as quickly as the talent pool, but Paso has clearly stepped into the mainstream of California wine, thanks to vintners such as Hug. Augie Hug is a garagiste, still small Raquel and Augie Hug of Hug after all these years, but his wines are Cellars with General Manager entering a new on-premise stage. We Jonathan Mitchell and owner West urge him, "Yes, do quit your day job—the Hooker-Poletti of Locanda del Lago wines are that good," but he won't. As a in Santa Monica, CA. drilling superintendent for multinational mining and petroleum company BHP Billiton, he spends two weeks a month in Texas, two hours south of Houston. We caught up with Hug at a wine dinner at Santa Monica, CA's Locanda del Lago, where Chef Gianfranco Minuz thoughtfully prepared classic Lombardian dishes that rang true with Hug's rustic-styled wines. OUR FAVORITE PAIRINGS WINE: Hug Cellars 2007 Pinot Noir "Casa Torres", Santa Maria Valley is dark and swarthy-hued, set with deeply rich strawberry preserves and pine, earth and dark Bing cherry. DISH: Pinot Noir–marinated sashimi-grade Scottish salmon brought out the earth tones irst, followed by the sweet fruit. WINE: Hug Cellars 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Starr Ranch, Paso Robles is a blockbuster of cassis and brandied plums, not over-ripe or port-y, but bursting with blackberry preserves and a creamy pastry texture. DISH: It not only stood up to this "brasato, a classic Italian braised, red wine– " sauced Flatiron steak, but it soothed the density and saltiness of the sauce. Hug Wines are available through Family Wine Partners; may 2013 / the tasting panel / 47

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