Wine Advocate 90 points - Although tasty, the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa is slightly less intense and powerful compared to the 2010. It reveals supple tannins, abundant black fruit and spice notes, and an easy-drinking yet seriously endowed, medium to full-bodied personality. Drink it over the next decade.”,,, (Oct 2013)
Wine Spectator 92 points - A fleshy, showy youngster, putting ripe fruit and jazzy oak on display. An impressive 2011 that reverberates with ripe cherry, plum and currant notes that will be at their most appealing early on, as this veers toward dryer tannins on the finish. Drink now through 2020.óJ.L. (Jan 29 2014)
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In some vintages, the decision about when to pick is a tough judgment call as we closely follow the maturation of the grapes` flavors and tannins. Both Chris Phelps and I found this vintage less demanding, as we achieved the level of ripeness we were seeking from area to area in the vineyard with perfect, rain-free weather conditions. This was a great vintage mainly due to Mother Nature, who gave us a cool, long summer and held off the winter until true physiological ripeness occurred and all the grapes were off the vines. Due to the cool start of the growing season, we did even more cluster thinning than usual to balance the crop load on each vine and ensure maturity. The resulting yields were only about half of normal, but the quality of the Cabernet Sauvignon was extraordinary. In the small vineyard blocks that consistently produce grapes of the level we require for the Special Selection designation, the flavors were lush and substantial, and the tannins had a ripe, melt-in-the-mouth quality. We hand-harvested the grapes from September 25 through October 18.
In many ways, the 1999 vintage wine made itself. Overnight after crushing, we saw intense color and great concentration in the juice, which only deepened during fermentation and the three-week maceration period. In this vintage, Chris selected 93 percent new French oak barrels, crafted by half a dozen different coopers for additional complexity and nuances of aroma and flavor. The wines aged in barrel for 17 months before we elected to capture the exuberant fruit flavors, the hallmark of this excellent, ripe vintage. I believe the resulting wine defines pure pleasure-and Special Selection`s true pedigree.
Wine maker notes
We created this wine to be low in tartness yet abundant in tannins, providing impressions of friendly chock richness. The palate enters rich with sweet, ripe tannins, expanding to a greater breadth of refined textures. The flavor profile includes dark chocolate, sweet tobacco, mocha, leather, brown spice, cedar, vanilla and sweet licorice. The primary goodness of this wine is the presence of balance, with a supple texture, approachable grip and a fruit of the earth essence.
For five generations, my family has lived and loved the Napa Valley. Our grandfather settled here in the 1800s and from that moment forward, we’ve grown to understand there is simply no substitute for an intimate knowledge of the land that only comes by ”living” in the vineyard. Working the land with our own hands has given us insights into California winemaking that can’t be found in any book or corporate farm manual.
We are the Wagner Family of Wine: Chuck Wagner continues to direct the world-reknown Cabernet program at Caymus Vineyards in Napa Valley; Charlie is making exquisite Chardonnay at Mer Soleil in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County; Joseph is making fine Pinot Noir under the Belle Glos label in the coastal areas of California; Jenny is learning the ropes here at Caymus and ah yes, our longtime winemaker for Conundrum, Jon Bolta, continues his craft of making that puzzling, white wine blend.