Good Deal

By John Bancroft October 1, 2010

The Deal

Organizers of the 2010 edition of the Wine, Women and Shoes charity fund raiser in Sarasota, scheduled for Oct. 21-23, have done us all a big favor by highlighting an open secret of the wine trade: In a glutted market and a down economy, some very fine wines get sold in bulk at bargain basement prices to wine négociants, middlemen who in turn sell the wines to us under generic labels for much less than they would cost if they were sold under their famous names.

The Bottom Line

Among the guests at this year’s WWS events will be Jessica Kogan Hughes, co-founder of Cameron Hughes Wine, a web-based négociant that labels its finds simply by lot number, vintage year, varietal and place of origin, as in “Lot 185 2007 Russian River sauvignon blanc,” which goes incognito for about $10. Hughes sells both directly via its website ( and through bricks-and-mortar retailers. In conjunction with WWS, Michael’s Wine Cellar will be offering a nice selection of these ridiculously good deals. The iconic midtown wine merchant also will be hosting a new event this year, a public tasting for which Hughes will be on hand, from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23. And it’s free.

The Drill

Although the fund raiser’s signature wine and shoes luncheon extravaganza has been sold out for weeks, tickets remain for winemaker dinners on Oct. 23 at various venues around town, including one hosted by Rich and Kristen Williams at which Hughes will pour. For information and tickets to either wine dinners or the Saturday tasting, call (941) 365-7716, or check the event’s website at Proceeds benefit Forty Carrots Family Center.

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