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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.
The Caymus 2009 Special Selection is one of my favorite wines which we have produced.
A great vintage that provided full ripeness at the doorstep of winter. Hang time brought our grape clusters to a soft velvet in the palm, the berries slightly weeping with consistent ripe intensity from the skin to the pith. 2009 was a year that one could literally feel the clusters readiness.
Lot by lot, we took our time addressing the decisions of cold soak and fermentation techniques. During harvest, the color and tannin extraction seemed nearly perfect to me – and only the dark rich free run juice was kept and the wet skins were hauled
away sans press.
Although 2009 was a great Cabernet year, this Special Selection bottling contains 13% Oak Knoll district Merlot, a cool growing area that is turning our heads due to its undeniable quality. 2009 Special Selection was aged 16 months in our favored French barrels - 25% of which were new, the resulting wine tastes like a Cabernet Sauvignon with vivid Napa richness - and only a nuance of oak. The grapes that produced this wine were grown in 8 of the 15 sub appellations of the Napa Valley - Howell Mountain, Atlas Peak, Oak Knoll,
Yountville, Rutherford, St Helena, Wooden Valley and Calistoga. The soils are gravelly loam and clay loam. I believe that we succeeded in our goal to produce an approachable and complex wine.
I subscribe to the theory that great wines begin their lives tasting great and the 2009 vintage in December following harvest tasted great. Nearly every lot of wine we produced was dark and opulent and set our hearts thumping as quickly as it set foot into barrels. This wine’s structure is formed by a balance of two significant components: fine ripe tannins and integrated fruit.
I am often asked about the best time to drink a wine. I feel that once a wine is released, the time to drink it becomes purely a personal choice. I will admit that I like our wines best at 7 - 10 years of age but they can last much longer; the older wines tend to be less interesting to me. However, larger sized bottles can age much slower than a 750 ml bottle.
My recommended serving temperature for this wine is 60°F.
TASTING NOTES: This is an intriguing and challenging wine to describe. At first pass, it
reminds me of fresh grape pumice spread onto an open field – the smell of Rutherford during an October harvest.
Color: Dark scarlet color, purple edges.
Palate: Slight tartness expands to a supple juicy character with an intense presence. Flavors are an amusing ensemble
of harmonies - bitter chocolate, charred peppered meat,raw dry aged beef, brown spice, vanilla yogurt, sarsaparilla,
cream soda with judicious grip and texture
~Winemaker, Chuck Wagner