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The Wagners produced their first Cabernet Sauvignon – “Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon” -- from the 1972 vintage. Their first Special Selection, from outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon lots given extended barrel aging, was made from the 1975 vintage.
The Wagners’ 60 acres of estate vineyard remain at the core of Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, but Chuck Wagner believes that much is gained in complexity and layering of flavors by not restricting fruit sources to a single site. As a result, Caymus has taken over farming control of selected other vineyards within the Napa Valley, some on the valley floor and some in mountain locations as high as 1,600 feet in elevation. Each vineyard block is farmed according to the specific needs of its soil type, climate, slope and orientation. The Wagners also have long-term relationships with several Napa Valley growers whose location and viticultural practices produce grapes of the quality Caymus requires.
"Every growing season involves chance, but setting aside certain grapes from among our lots to make the year’s Special Selection is very much a matter of choice. With luck, planting decisions are met by a cooperative climate to produce the superb grapes that go into all our wines. From there, we identify which vineyard blocks were particularly favored with grapes eligible for the Special Selection designation." - Chuck Wagner
The goal in Caymus Vineyard is a balanced wine that tastes delicious when bottled but can improve with age. Chuck Wagner attributes the quality of the wines to farming and winemaking techniques developed over the decades. These techniques are open to change if improvements can be made, even if doing so requires replanting a vineyard.
Caymus Cabernets are not single vineyard bottlings. Our wines are an individual expression of a small, yet world renowned wine valley. There are 15 sub-appellations of the Napa Valley, and we source fruit from 8 of them. My personal feelings are that most of the Valley can make great Cabernet as is proven by the critics’ scores over the last decades. Great wines produced today can be achieved by cultural practices in farming within the special soils and climate that exist here.
I would generalize that Napa Valley wines are comprised of two styles − the mountain (brawn) and the valley (supple). This is a significant fact about Caymus cabernets. They are a blend of both mountain and valley fruit − creating dimension and richness in character.
The tannin levels of our wines are higher and the acidity lower than most other Napa Cabernets. Our processes from vineyard to the winery are responsible for this desirable combination. The wine is "nuanced" with French oak aging for 16 months before bottling. Our goal is to make wine that tastes exciting in its youth or in its wisdom of 10 years or more. I generally favor wines which are 12 years or younger regardless of their origin, but that's my personal taste.
Our goal is to make every grape count in every year, but this is often challenged due to climatic variances. When a strong mid-October storm hit the Napa Valley, it was our decision to take the gamble and hold 80 percent of the crop out in the vineyard; standing firm in the belief that the loose-clustered Cabernet would not rot. Our path was correct in that we did not experience a problem with rot and the little mold we saw – we dropped those clusters to the ground. We were stubborn to the point of fault, in denial about the warm days behind us. The wines came out more than just fine with the last vineyard harvested on November 5th. Those few lots that didn’t make the grade −showing light in color after fermentation – we sold in bulk.
Our wines from the 2009 vintage will likely be different than most. For Caymus, it was a great follow-up to the very successful 2008 vintage. Nearly every Cabernet site which we source reached quality grade to be bottled as Caymus Cabernet, either for our Napa Valley bottling or our Special Selection. This vintage has dark color, a desirable earth born quality of rich, fruit driven tannins. It is a style of wine which I find difficult not to open every night!
Scarlet color and brackish edges. Nose is sweet fruit and smoked meats. This wine already has some bouquet− truffle mushrooms, vanilla style oak. The palate is creamy richness with nuances of leather and a cocoa-style fine grain tannin. The flavors and structure of this vintage are consistent with the Caymus style − spice, toast, cassis − fully rich, yet supple.
~ Chuck Wagner, Winemaker
Released: June, 2011