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The Wines of Caymus Vineyards – at Gasbarro’s on Federal Hill

caymus-label-napa-valley-cabThis past Thursday, June 19th, there was a tasting of Caymus Vineyards’ wines at Gasbarro’s on Federal Hill.  Mark Gasbarro brings some pretty amazing wines and wine makers into his store for tastings throughout the year, and this was another good one.  We’ve always been fans of Caymus Cabernet, but they have an IMG_0172entire stable of labels and wines that range from un-oaked Chardonnay to beautiful and elegant Pinot Noir and big, powerful cabernet.  They were all on display.

I started with the Mer Soleil Silver Chardonnay, an un-oaked version and ended up with the Special Selection Cabernet.  There were a few stops for cheese and prosciutto along the way.  If you haven’t been to one of these you should try it.  The Gaja tasting last year (read about that here) was simply off the charts and will probably remain one of the most amazing tasting events I’ll ever go to.

But this was Caymus, and here are the wines:

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The whites

2012 Mer Soleil Silver Chardonnay – the Mer Soleil vineyard is in the Santa Lucia Highlands.  This wine is clean, crisp and carries some great fruit through a very, very long and satisfying finish.  Medium bodied, it’s a very nice Chardonnay if you prefer the un-oaked style.  This is a quality wine.  $22.99.  A little steep there, but a good wine.

2011 Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay – same vineyard, but now we’re talking about aging in new French oak.  This isn’t overly oakey though, and isn’t dripping butter and honey either.  It is reserved, with a touch of oak and a nice body.  It is very smooth and rich, finishes clean and is very long.  If you prefer a little oak, this might be for you.  I really liked it.  It’s kind of like a Chablis without the minerality.  Well done.  $33.99.

2012 Conundrum White – this is a blend, and I think the gentleman pouring mentioned Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Semillon among others.  They don’t tell you what’s in it, thus the conundrum.  There’s a little sense of sweetness to this.  There’s also a kind of off putting taste at the same time.  I picked up a little bitterness at the end. This is not one of my favorites.  $21.99.

2011 Conundrum Red – another blend, this time with red grape varietals.  The wine is medium bodied, and just oozes red fruit.  They recommend serving it just above refrigerator temperature.  Think of an easy drinking red blend, take it up a notch and then get the top shelf version, and you’re here.  There might be a little red zin in it, I don’t know.  While I liked it, I’m generally not paying $21.99 for a summer sipper, especially with so many other choices out there.  It was pretty delicious though.

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The Pinots

2012 Belle Glos Las Arturas Pinot Noir – Belle Glos crafts three different single vineyard Pinot Noirs from three different coastal appelations: Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara.  This is from the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County.  Las Arturas is a beautiful deep red color, and brings a great nose of red fruit, with cherry prominent.  It’s medium bodied with a little spice playing across the palate.  Based on the color and initial impression I expected it to be richer, but this is somewhat reserved and elegant.    It’s a very nice Pinot Noir, and should be at $46.99.

2012 Belle Glos Dairyman Pinot Noir: now we move to the vineyard in Russian River Valley, Sonoma.  The Dairyman is also deep red, and a little darker than the Las Arturas.  It brings darker fruit with it, and there’s a touch of earthiness that adds a note of a more Burgundian style here.  There’s beautiful fruit, vanilla and earth on the palate, and the wine has more flesh to it than it’s Monterey cousin.  Rich and long, this is one outstanding Pinot Noir.  We’ve got a great bottle of wine here.  $46.99

2010 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet: made from the best of the vintage’s Cabernet, selected by tasting each barrel and cherry picking, the Special Selection is dark purple red in the glass and brings vibrant fruit to the nose.  You’re expecting a big wine, but this is a little lean, not as rich as you think, or in my case as I would want.  The tannins are still holding pretty firm here, but it is very approachable.  The finish is long and elegant.  It’s a very good bottle of Cabernet.  I don’t think I would ever, ever pay $154.99 for it.  Especially considering the next wine.

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This is fabulous!

2012 Caymus 40th Anniversary Cabernet: this wine is really dark purple in the glass, almost looking like a big, Aussie Shiraz.  The nose explodes with black currant, blackberry, vanilla, spice and oak.  On the palate the black fruit and vanilla come through nicely.  It’s big, actually it’s pretty enormous, but it is also elegant at the same time.  This is the iron fist in the velvet glove, that perfect marriage of power and finesse.  In other words, it’s pretty freakin good.  Full bodied and delicious, but oh so young and bound to get better with a few years of bottle age on it.  We’re getting a few bottles of this for special occasions, and a 3 Liter for a very special occasion.  World class.  $59.99 and worth it.

That’s the lineup, and it was a good one.  The Pinots were very good, with the Dairyman clearly superior in my book.  The 2012 40th Anniversary Cabernet stole the show, and at 1/3 the price of the Special Selection the choice is easy.  If you can spend $50-$60 on a bottle and not freak out then this is a good option.  We don’t do it often, but we will this time.

Thanks to Mark Gasbarro for another great tasting event.  Casey Flat Ranch will be there July 31st!

A votre sante!

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