Each week I pick out one wine to highlight as my wine of the week.  This wine may be an outstanding wine, a great value or just something very interesting.


The Winery

In 1971 Charles F. (Charlie) Wagner and his wife Lorna Belle Glos Wagner asked their son Charles J. (Chuck) Wagner, who had just graduated from high school, if he would be interested in joining them in starting up a winery.  If Chuck declined the offer, Charlie and Lorna were planning to sell out of their ranch in NapaValley and move to Australia.  Chuck accepted his parents’ offer to launch the winery, Caymus Vineyards.


The Wagners produced their first vintage in 1972, consisting of 240 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Since then, Caymus has focused their efforts in the production of quality Cabernet Sauvignon.  Today’s production is 65,000 cases.


Caymus Vineyards remains 100% family-owned by the Wagners.  Charlie, Lorna Belle, and Chuck worked together as a remarkable team for over 30 years building Caymus Cabernet.  Today, Chuck, his two sons, Charlie and Joe, and one daughter, Jenny, have joined the family team. Farming grapes remain the priority with the family farming about 350 acres of choice Napa Valley land.


The Wagners took the name Caymus from the Mexican land grant known as Rancho Caymus, given to George Yount in 1836, which encompassed what eventually became the town of Rutherford and much of the surrounding area.



The Wine

Caymus Vineyards produces two Cabernets Sauvignons, the generic Napa Valley and the “Special Selection”.  The “house style” for Caymus is a dark, rich, supple wine with smooth tannins.  The winery uses extended “hang time” to achieve their style.  The technique, which risks the loss of crop if an early winter sets in, is simply allowing the grapes to “hang” on the vines as long as possible.


Caymus Special Selection is the flagship wine of the Wagner family.  Even though the winery says this wine is not produced in difficult years, the last vintage the wine was not produced was 1993.  Both the “Napa Valley” and “Special Selection” Cabernets are produced under the winemaking hand of Chuck Wagner.


Caymus has long been one of the benchmark Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Napa.  Caymus Special Selection is created by selecting the best barrels of wine from the vintage.  The grapes for this wine come from various vineyards scattered around the NapaValley.  In this vintage the appellation breakdown is Rutherford 32%, Atlas Peak 15%, Oak Knoll 14%, St Helena 9%,  Yountville 6% and 24% from lesser known areas in the valley.



2008 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection – $91.04

After 35 years of being a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine, this vintage included 14% Merlot.  I was able to buy my bottles at a very special price; this wine is generally over $100 a bottle.  On the current auction market, this wine is close to $125 a bottle.


This wine has 15.4% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.



My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark purple color.  The very nice and inviting nose has cassis, roasted herbs, baking spices, fresh ground dark roast coffee, dried herbs, cherry, dark chocolate, vanilla and a touch of eucalyptus.  This has medium to full body with moderate ripe tannins and good acidity.  The wine is rich and plush on the palate with loads of crushed berries, baking spices, and dark chocolate.  Dried herbs and cherries come in on the back end filling out the palate and adding depth.  The finish is long and rich with vanilla coming in as well as some eucalyptus and dark chocolate.  This is delicious right now but with all the richness, I don’t know if this will be one to hold long term.  I’d advise enjoying over the next several years.  (94 pts)

2008 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection

2008 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection



What would I pair with this wine?  How about a thick, medium rare New York Strip Steak with some freshly made herb butter served over a bed of crisp French fries.  Add a few pieces of grilled baguette and you have a perfect dinner for two.

NY Strip with herb butter and fries




Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


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This is original to CliffsWinePicks.com.  Copyright 2013 Cliff’s Wine Picks.

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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.