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.
Color: Opaque, dark black-cherry
Nose: Deep, generous aromas of black currants (cassis) and black cherries that promise sweet, mature fruit, interwoven with notes of anise, black licorice and vanilla.
Mouth: The wine enters the mouth with an explosive impression of richly ripe fruit, especially black currants and plums. This pure fruit essence forms a solid core that dominates the wine in its evolution in the mouth. Flavors of licorice and toasted spice as well as textural elements from the finely grained tannins and plush, fleshy mouthfeel envelop this core but never overcome it. The fruit flavors deepen and expand as the wine builds to a prolonged, weighty finish. While this wine is delicious today, in my opinion it may not reach a plateau for 20 years or more.
As the Wagner family celebrated the 40th anniversary of Caymus Vineyards in 2012, they thought back to 1972 which Charlie Wagner, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner and their son, Chuck, built their winery among the vines planted on the family's ranch in Rutherford, California - the center of the Napa Valley. In 1975, the Wagners produced their first Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, which remains the only wine to have twice been named Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Year" (1984 and 1990 vintage).
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California has nearly 100 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) and accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the United States. In our section of Other California, we include wines from smaller AVAs as well as wines from the California AVA. Here are a few smaller AVAs you may see on the label:
Livermore Valley AVA
, located right outside of San Francisco and home to wineries such as Wente.
Lodi County AVA
, an AVA further east of San Francisco and known for its excellent, old-vine Zinfandels.
San Francisco Bay AVA
, a sprawling AVA that covers Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, to name a few.
Wine that holds only the California AVA is typically a wine that includes grapes from a number of different AVAs, which leads to the general labeling of the wine as California. This does not denote the quality of the wine, only the diversity of where the grapes originate.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.