A couple years ago, in 2014, the well know Napa Valley producer Caymus changed their longstanding label branding and associated packaging to commemorate their 40th anniversary. One of the notable packaging elements was a prominent '40' on the top of the foil. It just so happens that Caymus' anniversary aligns with our wedding anniversary so we served the 40th commemorative bottle at several family dinners including a gala family celebration dinner in honor of our 40th.
So it was only fitting that Linda and I selected a Caymus '43' Cabernet for a special anniversary dinner outing together. We ventured into Chicago for the day to celebrate the end of summer and it turned into an all day outing, culminating in a upscale dinner at Chicago Cut Steakhouse on the Chicago River.
The plan was to head into the city, have lunch and then take in the Gauguin exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, one of our favorite city destinations. We are long time members and make it a point to take in all the special exhibits. We get much joy from, appreciate and take advantage of our proximity to AIC which is truly a world class attraction, having been selected as the #1 museum in the world by Tripadvisor, a major travel site.
We ventured in looking for a place we could eat al fresco enroute or downtown. We researched and explored 'Little Italy' which we used to enjoy decades ago but had lost track of it. We've determined that the Little Italy as we used to know it doesn't exist any more having given way to the influx of Latinos taking over the near southwest side which has become Little village, Mexico of the Midwest, and the growth and spread of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the emergence of the hip new University Village area, and the expansion of the Illinois Medical District on the near west south side.
Chez Joel on Taylor Street, and May Street Cafe down in Pilsen. We ended up at Lagunitas Brewery north of the Little Village Neighborhood in what is actually Douglas Park neighborhood, tucked away above the BNSF railroad, in the industrial district to the east of the Douglas Park.
We had no idea what to expect and were amazed at the size of the facility and operations and hospitality areas that included of the Brewhouse Tap Restaurant overlooking the brewery and bottling packaging operations below.
Amazingly, this has become a destination in its own right. The anticipation of what is to come is heightened by the spectacle of the long access hallways, the second with long velvet ropes set up to accompany large crowds. We took in lunch and then opted for a self guided tour rather than the formal guided affair.
The parade of boat traffic seemed to be endless as the tour boats were each completely full with folks taking in the scenery of the spectacular architecture and the whole river scene on the last holiday weekend of summer.
Its was with a sense of great pride and fun to share our wonderful city with visitors from around the world as we noted that it almost seemed that English was a second language among the throngs of people taking in the scene. At dinner we sat adjacent to French speaking visitors from Montreal as well as folks from neighboring Indiana and Michigan.
Caymus Estate '43' Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
The Caymus was dark garnet/purple colored, full bodied, with rich concentrated dense vibrant blackberry, black raspberry and blue berry fruits; initial alcohol heat that burns off with decanting and some settling time, notes of cassis and hint of sweet vanilla with silky smooth tannins on the long lingering finish.
RM 93 points.
The Caymas cab was a perfect accompaniment to our Chicago Cut prime filet steaks, perfectly prepared in my favorite 'Pittsburgh style', with sides of creamed spinach and whipped potatoes. The Kale and Quinoa salad with candied nuts and fruits was fabulous.
Caymus is one of our favorite Napa Cabs with it smooth polished but bold vibrant style. Caymus is known for early accessible drinking but also can be aged for further maturation in the bottle. While not known for its aging potential, we've held Caymus for close to twenty years for mature fine drinking enjoyment.
As is tooo often the case, Chicago Cut served our wine too warm, such that we actually had them put our red wine in an ice bucket to bring it down to appropriate serving temperature. When you're paying 2x plus times retail for a wine, its not unreasonable to expect ideal service with appropriate glassware, decanting and proper serving temperature. I don't know why this is so difficult for so many restaurants. Its unacceptable when paying $175 for a bottle of 'moderate' priced wine on the wine list to expect it at appropriate temperature for consumption, but it happens much too often.
We enjoy drinking our wine at proper cellar temperature which at 58-63 degrees is ten to fifteen degrees below room temperature, not room temp or above. We keep our home cellar even cooler at about 53 degrees and find it ideal for our drinking pleasure as well as for long term storage. Amazingly, more than once we've been served expensive bottles of fine wine, that were brought from a storage area adjacent to the kitchen, well above room temperature. Restaurants serious about their wine service (and expecting high price points and associated margins) should be held accountable, and should know better.
A great memorable special day in our beloved Chicago.