Originally posted by heckofagator:
Thanks for all of the thoughts and comments.
Good idea on the the local tastings. Like I said, I don't know alot of wine, and less about reds, so most of the time I'm at the mercy of whatever we end up ordering. I did come across a Tikal Malbec and I really enjoyed, so I've managed to pick that up once or twice and have enjoyed it. But it wasn't the Caymus.
I can't imagine it gets better, but yeah, I guess I'm curious to see what $100 gets you now.
At $75 a bottle, this isn't something I can purchase a whole lot. Mostly maybe for Christmas and other special occasions. And I don't think I'm to the point yet where I can feel 100% comfortable to go spend $75 and then turn around and drink it. But maybe that comes with time and experience.
So you got some good advice above.
What exactly was it about the Caymus that you liked? Maybe if you can articulate that, you'd be more able to find something similar.
For me, Caymus, especially a young one like a 2009, is a rather oaky and fruity wine. That is the description of a lot of California Cab, but it's not a criticism if it's a profile that you like.
As others have pointed out, you're unlikely to get that same quality for $25. For one thing, the barrels alone cost nearly $1000 each, so they have a lot of investment to recoup.
But if you want a fair CA Cab, I think many of the suggestions so far are right on. Napa wines will be more expensive than wines from elsewhere in CA, so if you look at things like Justin for example, it's going to be less just because of where it's from. Look for wines from Sonoma, Paso Robles, etc. If you can find the Ridge Santa Cruz Cab, that's about $35 and it may be something you'd like. It's really an excellent wine. I'm not talking about the Monte Bello, which is about 3 times as expensive.
In addition to those mentioned, from Napa you can try Monticello and Steltzner both of which put out Cabs in the $30 range, as well as BV Rutherford, which can be a good value. The Beringer Knights Valley is a good call, but try the Napa Cab too - it is sometimes as good. And the Chappellet is a really good wine, but try their Mountain Cuvee for about $25, which is always a good buy IMO. The Signature was most likely in need of a long decant and even after that, it's not quite the same as the Caymus. IMO, it's an under-appreciated wine though.
And don't forget Washington. The Chateau St. Michelle is a good suggestion, but try their Merlot. In WA, the Merlot can be outstanding.
Which brings up another point. If some of the wines mentioned are kind of expensive, that's because many Americans think that Cab somehow should be a higher-ranking grape than Merlot. But if someone puts out a really good Cab, see if they also do a Merlot. Right now I'm drinking a Newton 1997 Merlot which isn't necessarily going to set the world on fire but it's a really nice wine that's reasonably mature at this point and still with some tannins to finish it off. It cost me about $24. I don't know what it goes for today.
The Tikal is a pretty pedestrian Malbec, so I'd suggest that you go out and pick up some better ones - you seem to like those so get them before the prices go up. The government of Argentina is so corrupt and stupid that the producers are forced to raise their prices and those cheap Malbecs are going to be history at some point in the near future. Ironically, that may make them more desirable by some people - some folks think that price = quality.
Which brings up another point - you mention that you'd like to see what $100 buys you. Well, once you hit $50 or so, pricing starts losing its relationship with quality. CA producers can get more, so they charge more.
Finally, if you liked that Caymus, go out and get the El Nido Clio. It's big and thick and loaded with that buttery quality that the Caymus has but it's half the price. Don't worry about the grape varieties - the fact is, the variety is far less important than many people think. But my guess is that you'll love the wine. Everyone I know who likes Caymus does.
Cheers, and hang around a bit.