Saturday, June 7, 2014

Cal Cab Release Tasting - Caymus 40th, Plumpjack, Silver Oak

Cal Cab Release Tasting - Caymus 40th, Plumpjack, Silver Oak

The special tasting today at Vin Chicago, Naperville offered the opportunity to taste three recent release Cal Cabs of three perennial favorite wines, each with its own classic style. Sharing our 40th anniversary year with Caymus and some special friends, we've been waiting with anticipation to taste the Caymus special 40th label release. Also offered today were Plumpjack Estate and Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernets. The tasting represented three different California Cabernet styles and showing very differently at this stage of their lives.

Caymus Vineyards Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 

This is the 40th release of this legendary label and it features a special 40th Anniversary release label for the occasion. The 2012 vintage release also  shows the classic characteristics of Caymus Estate Cabernet at its best - early approachability and drinkability as a young wine.

Typical Caymus Cab style - dark ruby/garnet colored, medium to full bodied, nicely structured, complex but smooth, well balanced and polished, it opens with sweet ripe blackberry and raspberry flavors highlighted by layers of milk chocolate, subtle tones of cinnamon, vanilla and hints of caramel, giving way to a smooth lingering modest tannin finish.

RM 94 points.

Plumpjack Estate Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Plumpjack is another one of our favorite Napa Cabernets and one of Linda's favorite winery stops in the Valley. We first discovered Plumpjack back in the early nineties shortly after their inaugural release.

We hosted a wine dinner with Mary Pisor, then Plumpjack associate winemaker under Nils Venge at the time. We did a 1995 horizontal tasting of barrel pulls of the Plumpjack Reserve against Lafite Rothschild, Cos D'Estournel, and Pichon Lalande and Venge Reserve Cab (left). The young Plumpjacks held their own very nicely.

We still hold several vintages of Estate and Reserve Plumpjack including several dating back to those early releases. Somewhere along the way, this label has crept up in price to around $100 and left behind many of its peers from that era who now look like good value in comparison. I think this is an ambitious stretch to justify the Estate at this pricepoint for this wine and its hard to recommend it at this level. There are a lot of great wines in the sub-$100 range.  

The Plumpjack Estate 2011 release has in its blend of Bordeaux Varietals 7% Petit Verdot, which adds structure and color to the Cabernet Sauvignon. The Petit Verdot influence certainly comes through.

It is dark garnet colored, medium to full bodied, firm and tight, it needs time to settle and allow its flavors to integrate and open further to reveal their native character. It showed layers of blackberry and ever so slightly astringent black cherry with slight earthiness, cinnamon spice, tobacco, spicebox and hints of cedar on a tight firm tannin lingering finish.

RM 91 points.

Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

This is one of favorite wines that impresses if not amazes us with its longevity as we hold vintages going back to the earliest releases from the early eighties.

To capture its characteristic oak profile, its held in new oak for an extended period extending its release. This emerging 2009 release shows incredible similarity to the aged vintage 1984 Napa Valley Silver Oak Cab we drank last weekend. This release shows that distinctive wood oakiness which certainly predominates in this young wine, somewhat overshadowing the dark berry fruits, spices and vanilla. It shows firm tannin structure backbone that promises for long life but which needs time to settle and allow the fruits to emerge and fully reveal themselves.  

RM 91 points.