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Old 25-04-2007, 06:02 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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Default Caymus Special Selection 1988 - 1997

These are notes from a delightful dinner arranged and hosted at a
local restaurant by a wine friend whose axis is located for the most
part straight through Burgundy and Bordeaux.

We were told only that the seven wines were from one property and that
the tasting was a vertical. That was the full extent of our knowledge
going in! A definite challenge. I found that the wines naturally
arranged themselves into two groups, a young segment, characterised by
riper noses, and an older group characterised by slightly assertive
terminal acidity and a quite different aromatic profile, much more
French in style. Very perplexing. They were announced toward the end
of the meal as being Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.

All of the food courses were calculated to complement red wines and I
shall recite the food as well, as these choices merit recognition.

Lamb Carpaccio, roasted garlic, capers, Dijon aioli, Manchego cheese

Assuntine (pasta) duck confit, ramps, tomato sauce, parmesan

Buffalo tenderloin with wine tip mushrooms and huckleberry sauce

Venison chop, fingerling potatoes, red wine sauce

Lemon tart and blueberries

We started off with a rather fine palate cleanser:

1990 Dom Perignon - showing a little colour, and with a nose of clean
lemon scented fruit, showing only slight maturity, with a really
creamy smooth mouth feel and a crisp clean elegant finish.

You will have to forgive us our thrashing and flopping about trying to
decide if it had any Merlot (the nose on some definitely pointed one
in that direction), was it a Bordeaux (the last three tempted one to
conclude this, yet the first three were clearly riper Southern types),
was it perhaps South American or even South African; all came up for
discussion. We were left to taste as we wished throughout the meal
and I opted to start at the oldest, as is my wont, lest I miss any
nuance by beginning at the other end with more powerful and less
subtle wines.

1988 - I got a pretty classic claret cabernet sauvignon nose off this
one. There was slight lightening but little browning at the edges, and
the tannins are mostly gone, the finish riding instead on acidity
which with time became slightly assertive. The thought was later
offered that it was the custom to acidify these wines in some vintages
and the question was raised as to whether that sort of added acidity
melds less well with the wines than does a natural grape acidity.
This wine and the next two as well, were of low enough pH to have me
casting thoughts in the direction of the Cape of Good Hope. 1988 was
a decent but certainly not top vintage, and while this wine had early
appeal, it was the next wine that ultimately garnered my vote for best
of the early crew.

1990 - a lovely red plummy nose (this started me and another chap off
on merlot theorising), showing good complexity, and on palate the wine
was more harmonious, the acidity better blending in, with a lively
finish of good length.

1991 - quite similar to the 1990, with perhaps a slight green note in
the nose and just a hint of mint. Good length, but the acidity was not
as well integrated in this wine.

1992 - this was my watershed wine, segueing from one style to the
next. I can't attribute the change to winemaking as the same person
made all of these wines, so it must be simple ageing, but the
difference was quite striking. The 1992 was immediately remarkable as
being an even better wine than the 1991, although I valued the
complexity and development on the latter wine enough to make it my
favourite. The 1992 had a darker colour, a nose with depth and
sweetness, and there was great flavour concentration. It was also the
first wine, looking at things from the other end, that I considered to
be at prime drinking plateau, the younger vintages needing more time
as they do.

1994 - switch back to a lighter sort of nose in this wine, and the oak
is noticeable, even a bit to the fore for the first time. It developed
with time in the glass (all these were opened an hour before the
dinner commenced). The tannins are softer than the younger wines but
still meaty and indicate that this vintage needs more time, both for
the tannins to further soften and the complexity in nose and on palate
to develop. It had excellent balance and has all the signs of being
special in a few more years.

1995 - a riper, rounder nose, now with some currants rather than
plums, and sweeter, which is what made me think of hotter climes than
Bordeaux. The tannins are still quite hard, though certainly ripe. It
is a fat wine with good middle and firly good length. Needs time.

1997 - this is the only wine that I hadn't tasted before, as I stopped
buying California wines with the 1996 vintage when they exceeded
sensible price levels compared to similar wines from other areas.
There wasn't much happening in the nose at first, but with time it
opened up and developed a profile quite similar to the 1995 - ripe,
sweet, and full. The entry on palate was also sweet, but the tannins
clamped down almost immediately, allowing a taster only a scant moment
to enjoy the fruit before it was rudely snatched away, or rather
enveloped by the looming tannin. I could detect, I thought, the same
good balance that characterised the other wines.

So what did I learn from this fascinating tasting? That Caymus stands
if not alone, certainly in the minority among the upper ranks of
California Cabernet producers, in making a wine that values elegance
and style above raw power. You can (and we did) mistake these for
Bordeaux once they have a few years on them - I'd say 15 is when a
good vintage reaches maturity - something you would never be able to
say of most of the brawny fruit bombs that otherwise populate this
stratum of California cabs.

We learned that acidification is not conducive to harmony, although it
doesn't necessarily rule it out. In fact the perception of terminal
acidity is highly food dependent as we observed in this menu in a way
that made an impression on us. Most of us had written off the first
three wines after an hour or so in the glass as being just a bit too
acidic for us to really enjoy them and we concentrated on the younger
vintages. Then the venison arrived and the older wines that had stayed
too edgy with the other courses including the buffalo, absolutely
bloomed, the acidity was transformed and the wines became more
enjoyable than they had been all night.

We finished up the evening with a special bottle that another attendee
had brought along:

Tarquinio T. da Camara Lomelino Ltda. 150th Anniversary Madeira Boal
1820 - this is a solera that was begun in 1820 and bottled in 1962,
and apparently sold to celebrate the 150th anniversary of this firm
(presumably no longer extant) in business in 1970. Great brown wine
with an intense hot alcoholic nose, medium body and very, very intense
flavour. Imagine that you were drinking vanilla extract (no, the
flavours aren't vanilla, I am just trying to convey the sort of
flavour intensity in this wine. Any of you who HAVE drunk vanilla
extract need not join in this mental exercise....). The wine ended
much more smoothly than it began and had truly exceptional length,
lingering for minutes in the mouth. A special experience and a fitting
end to a singular tasting.

What a wonderful learning experience and opportunity! As I also own
the 1990, 91, 92 and 94, it was also a great opportunity to gauge the
readiness of my bottles.


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Old 25-04-2007, 08:03 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 13
Default Caymus Special Selection 1988 - 1997

"Bill S." wrote in message
ups.com...
These are notes from a delightful dinner arranged and hosted at a
local restaurant by a wine friend whose axis is located for the most
part straight through Burgundy and Bordeaux


Thank you for your notes. The only Caymus SS I have (or have had) is the
1987. Still have two bottles left, paid around $60 each in 1992. My notes
show that it was the 1991 #3 Wine Spectator Wine of the Year.


--
Joe Giorgianni
TheWho.org

"This guitar has seconds to live" Posters

  #3 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 29-04-2007, 04:18 AM posted to alt.food.wine
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 12
Default Caymus Special Selection 1988 - 1997

On Apr 25, 1:02 pm, "Bill S." wrote:
These are notes from a delightful dinner arranged and hosted at a
local restaurant by a wine friend whose axis is located for the most
part straight through Burgundy and Bordeaux.

We were told only that the seven wines were from one property and that
the tasting was a vertical. That was the full extent of our knowledge
going in! A definite challenge. I found that the wines naturally
arranged themselves into two groups, a young segment, characterised by
riper noses, and an older group characterised by slightly assertive
terminal acidity and a quite different aromatic profile, much more
French in style. Very perplexing. They were announced toward the end
of the meal as being Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.

All of the food courses were calculated to complement red wines and I
shall recite the food as well, as these choices merit recognition.

Lamb Carpaccio, roasted garlic, capers, Dijon aioli, Manchego cheese

Assuntine (pasta) duck confit, ramps, tomato sauce, parmesan

Buffalo tenderloin with wine tip mushrooms and huckleberry sauce

Venison chop, fingerling potatoes, red wine sauce

Lemon tart and blueberries

We started off with a rather fine palate cleanser:

1990 Dom Perignon - showing a little colour, and with a nose of clean
lemon scented fruit, showing only slight maturity, with a really
creamy smooth mouth feel and a crisp clean elegant finish.

You will have to forgive us our thrashing and flopping about trying to
decide if it had any Merlot (the nose on some definitely pointed one
in that direction), was it a Bordeaux (the last three tempted one to
conclude this, yet the first three were clearly riper Southern types),
was it perhaps South American or even South African; all came up for
discussion. We were left to taste as we wished throughout the meal
and I opted to start at the oldest, as is my wont, lest I miss any
nuance by beginning at the other end with more powerful and less
subtle wines.

1988 - I got a pretty classic claret cabernet sauvignon nose off this
one. There was slight lightening but little browning at the edges, and
the tannins are mostly gone, the finish riding instead on acidity
which with time became slightly assertive. The thought was later
offered that it was the custom to acidify these wines in some vintages
and the question was raised as to whether that sort of added acidity
melds less well with the wines than does a natural grape acidity.
This wine and the next two as well, were of low enough pH to have me
casting thoughts in the direction of the Cape of Good Hope. 1988 was
a decent but certainly not top vintage, and while this wine had early
appeal, it was the next wine that ultimately garnered my vote for best
of the early crew.

1990 - a lovely red plummy nose (this started me and another chap off
on merlot theorising), showing good complexity, and on palate the wine
was more harmonious, the acidity better blending in, with a lively
finish of good length.

1991 - quite similar to the 1990, with perhaps a slight green note in
the nose and just a hint of mint. Good length, but the acidity was not
as well integrated in this wine.

1992 - this was my watershed wine, segueing from one style to the
next. I can't attribute the change to winemaking as the same person
made all of these wines, so it must be simple ageing, but the
difference was quite striking. The 1992 was immediately remarkable as
being an even better wine than the 1991, although I valued the
complexity and development on the latter wine enough to make it my
favourite. The 1992 had a darker colour, a nose with depth and
sweetness, and there was great flavour concentration. It was also the
first wine, looking at things from the other end, that I considered to
be at prime drinking plateau, the younger vintages needing more time
as they do.

1994 - switch back to a lighter sort of nose in this wine, and the oak
is noticeable, even a bit to the fore for the first time. It developed
with time in the glass (all these were opened an hour before the
dinner commenced). The tannins are softer than the younger wines but
still meaty and indicate that this vintage needs more time, both for
the tannins to further soften and the complexity in nose and on palate
to develop. It had excellent balance and has all the signs of being
special in a few more years.

1995 - a riper, rounder nose, now with some currants rather than
plums, and sweeter, which is what made me think of hotter climes than
Bordeaux. The tannins are still quite hard, though certainly ripe. It
is a fat wine with good middle and firly good length. Needs time.

1997 - this is the only wine that I hadn't tasted before, as I stopped
buying California wines with the 1996 vintage when they exceeded
sensible price levels compared to similar wines from other areas.
There wasn't much happening in the nose at first, but with time it
opened up and developed a profile quite similar to the 1995 - ripe,
sweet, and full. The entry on palate was also sweet, but the tannins
clamped down almost immediately, allowing a taster only a scant moment
to enjoy the fruit before it was rudely snatched away, or rather
enveloped by the looming tannin. I could detect, I thought, the same
good balance that characterised the other wines.

So what did I learn from this fascinating tasting? That Caymus stands
if not alone, certainly in the minority among the upper ranks of
California Cabernet producers, in making a wine that values elegance
and style above raw power. You can (and we did) mistake these for
Bordeaux once they have a few years on them - I'd say 15 is when a
good vintage reaches maturity - something you would never be able to
say of most of the brawny fruit bombs that otherwise populate this
stratum of California cabs.

We learned that acidification is not conducive to harmony, although it
doesn't necessarily rule it out. In fact the perception of terminal
acidity is highly food dependent as we observed in this menu in a way
that made an impression on us. Most of us had written off the first
three wines after an hour or so in the glass as being just a bit too
acidic for us to really enjoy them and we concentrated on the younger
vintages. Then the venison arrived and the older wines that had stayed
too edgy with the other courses including the buffalo, absolutely
bloomed, the acidity was transformed and the wines became more
enjoyable than they had been all night.

We finished up the evening with a special bottle that another attendee
had brought along:

Tarquinio T. da Camara Lomelino Ltda. 150th Anniversary Madeira Boal
1820 - this is a solera that was begun in 1820 and bottled in 1962,
and apparently sold to celebrate the 150th anniversary of this firm
(presumably no longer extant) in business in 1970. Great brown wine
with an intense hot alcoholic nose, medium body and very, very intense
flavour. Imagine that you were drinking vanilla extract (no, the
flavours aren't vanilla, I am just trying to convey the sort of
flavour intensity in this wine. Any of you who HAVE drunk vanilla
extract need not join in this mental exercise....). The wine ended
much more smoothly than it began and had truly exceptional length,
lingering for minutes in the mouth. A special experience and a fitting
end to a singular tasting.

What a wonderful learning experience and opportunity! As I also own
the 1990, 91, 92 and 94, it was also a great opportunity to gauge the
readiness of my bottles.


One of my best winery visits were to the Wagners at Caymus. Me &
Ol'Charlie agreed on nothing political, except for the fact he agreed
Dougie McArthur was a DUFUSS

I bought some 1975 and 1976 Experimental Special Selection, aged an
additional year----two of favorites from anywhere along with wines
made for Milton Eisele.

I met on the same trip Joe Swan, Eisele, Eleanor McCrae of Stony Hill,
Dave Bennion of Ridge and Leon Adams--its been all downhill from
there.............



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