In 1972, the Wagner family, Charles, Lorna, and their son, Chuck, founded Caymus Vineyards. Specializing in Cabernet Sauvignon, the Wagner's first vintage produced 240 cases. Today they produce 65,000 cases annually from about 350 acres of Napa Valley farmland. Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon grapes come from a variety of sites in Napa Valley including Howell Mountain, Atlas Peak, Oak Knoll, Yountville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Wooden Valley and Calistoga. Grapes from vines which are systematically replanted every 15 years end up in two varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, the 'Special Selection' and 'Napa Valley'. Both are rich, lavishly oaked wines with bold cassis, black cherry, loam and spice flavors that often verge on sweet. These wines offer lush texture along with considerable early appeal. The 'Special Selection', made from the best lots of Cabernet Sauvignon is aged for 16 months in favored French barrels.
Chuck Wagner, son of founder Charles Wagner, is the head winemaker at Caymus. He began working in wine after high school when his parents founded Caymus and took over as winemaker in 1984. In 2002 he was awarded the Wine Spectator Distinguished Service Award for his contribution to viticulture in the Napa Valley. Working closely alongside Chuck is Jon Bolta. Formerly Chuck's assistant, Jon now oversees the production of Conundrum, a popular white blend produced from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat, Semillon and Viognier grapes in a separate facility in Monterey County.
Bold, assertive red wines often showing jammy fruits and impressively high alcohol
Grilled meats and barbecue
Zinfandel is not the rage it was in the 1980s and early 1990s, as there are now too many wines made from overripe fruit or from young vines, or overwhelmed by excessive use of new barrels. Today's Zinfandel styles range from elegant, taut, and claret-like midweights to superripe and potty behemoths, with off-the-charts alcohol levels, distinctly exotic character, and, frequently, noticeable residual sugar. Classic Zinfandels are normally medium to full in body, with fruit-driven aromas and flavors of fresh berries, black pepper, and spices, sometimes with notes of citrus zest, chocolate, and briary underbrush; they are rarely overwhelmed by oak notes. Many of the best producers continue to work largely with very old vines (some-times with "field blends" that include other grapes such as Petite Sirah and Carignan), which give consistently low crop levels and make wines with atypical creaminess of texture, aromatic complexity, and aging potential.