If there is one name that’s synonymous with Cabernet Sauvignon in the Napa Valley – a valley that has built its reputation on the variety – it’s Caymus.
Founded in 1972 by Charlie and Lorna Wagner and their son Chuck, Caymus made a handful of varieties in its early years, but soon began concentrating exclusively on Cabernet.
It was a wise move, considering the location of the estate vineyard – in Napa’s acclaimed Rutherford district – and the intensely flavored Cabernet clone planted. The clone was acquired from Nathan Fay, a highly regarded grower in the Stags Leap area.
“I liked the character in Nate’s wine,” Charlie Wagner explained, “and he told me to help myself if I wanted some budwood. He was a generous man, and he knew I wouldn’t injure his vineyard.”
In 1975, Caymus began producing two bottlings of Cabernet – one designated “Napa Valley” and the other known as “Special Selection.” The “Special Selection” is made only in years when truly exceptional fruit is available.
Chuck Wagner, who assumed winemaking duties in 1984, said the goal with both bottlings is to produce wines that taste delicious upon release, but also can age gracefully over an extended period of time.
The first “Special Selection” that Chuck produced, in 1984, was named “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator magazine in 1989. Five years later, the publication bestowed the same honor on the 1990 Caymus “Special Selection.” No other wine ever has been so honored for two vintages.
Today, the Caymus name is still magic among Cabernet lovers, and Chuck remains an enthusiastic vintner.
“I find the wines we make these days to my liking early on,” he said. Then he quickly added: “This is my personal choice and opinion – nothing more.”
Perhaps, but its certainly an informed opinion.