Massively concentrated, dense, plush, and opulent, velour-like texture
Chuck Wagner was just 19 years old when he took his parents up on a proposal to make “home” wines, drawn from grapes harvested on their property in Rutherford. Chuck and his dad, Charlie, founded Caymus Vineyards in 1971 … and never looked back.
It’s hard to imagine today, given the elite status Caymus has attained among the world’s most collectible Cabernet Sauvignons, but in those early days, the family did almost everything themselves. Chuck’s mom, Lorna, began her day whipping up home-cooked breakfasts for the kids, before grabbing a pair of pruning shears or hustling over to the bottling line. His dad was a jack-of-all-trades, and that work ethic quickly rubbed off on young Chuck.
If you’ve managed to get an appointment at the quaint, low-key tasting room in Rutherford, and have been fortunate enough to meet a member of one of Napa Valley’s royal families, you know that the apples haven’t fallen far from the tree. Chuck’s children Charlie, Joey, and Jenny are as understated as their granddad, even in light of the meteoric ascent of a family-owned brand that reached new heights in 2014 — which Wine Spectator called a “dream vintage, with quality along the lines of 2012 and 2013.”
Of course, the family’s pride and joy is the Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon “Special Selection,” the only wine ever to be named Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year TWICE — first for the 1984 vintage, and then for the 1990.
While neither Parker nor Wine Spectator has weighed in on the 2014, one can’t help but wonder if a THIRD Spectator Wine of the Year award isn’t months away. Here’s why.
A warm, dry winter and spring on the Rutherford bench led to early bud break at Caymus. Flowering went off without a hitch under perfect conditions. While the sun shined brightly during the summer months, temperatures remained mild, making for a large, uniform set of small-berry clusters.
Just as vines began to show the first signs of hydric stress in September, several well-timed showers refreshed the Cabernet Sauvignon vines. The call to harvest came early. Sugars were sky-high at harvest, the equivalent of 2012, while acids were firm and tannins nearly as sturdy as the fabulously age-worthy, 95-point 2013.
The 2014 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon “Special Selection” is a gentle monster. Opaque purple-black. Massively concentrated, dense, plush, and opulent, velour-like texture, filled with a full-throttle mix of blackberry, black raspberry, and black currant preserves, doused with sweet crème de cassis, seemingly round, soft, and pliant. After a half hour in oversized Riedel, the titanic structure of this magnificent “Special Selection” begins to take center stage, as sneaky tannins brace and buttress all of the vintage’s natural black-fruit concentration, arguing gracefully for 15-25 years of cellar slumber.
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