On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast,” host Adam Teeter is back and he and Zach discuss the one bottle the wine world loves to hate: Caymus. The two discuss why this one wine has been singled out for so much scorn and debate the reasons why. Then, your hosts try a bit of Caymus for themselves. Tune in for more.

Listen Online

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Spotify

Or Check Out the Conversation here

Adam Teeter: From VinePair’s New York City headquarters. I’m Adam Teeter.

Zach Geballe: In Seattle, Washington, I’m Zach Geballe.

A: I’m back, baby. It’s the VinePair podcast, Friday edition. I just feels so f*cking good to be back and to say f*ck on the podcast. No, I’m also bummed that I’m not home, but let’s be real, it’s nice to have a good work life balance. We’ll talk more on our Monday episode, Zach, about how I’m doing. I do want to say, I’m sure there are probably some listeners out there that are missing the Scot, probably thought his accent is much better than mine, but you’re not going to replace me. I just want you to know, you’re not going to replace me. I did found the company so-

Z: We’re going to veer quickly into dangerous territory if you repeat that phrase too much.

A: Totally. Also, thank you to all the listeners who reached out with congratulations. It meant a lot. I really appreciate it. Zach, man, it just felt like a piece of me was missing not talking to you twice a week. You guys had some good podcasts while I was gone. Some good topics were gotten into, which I appreciate. You guys kept it spicy, kept it interesting.

Z: A little bit.

A: Hopefully, we didn’t lose any listeners. Hopefully, we gained some listeners. I think this episode today is going to definitely have some strong opinions and probably some reactions. Before we even get into the topic, just to remind our lovely folks listening along at home, [email protected] would love to hear your thoughts. We’re going to talk today about Caymus. This is actually an article that we’ve been shopping around for the last six months, talking about internally, and had an amazing writer who published this for us earlier this week. We wrote a whole feature on the polarization of Caymus. For those listening to this podcast who may or may not be aware of what Caymus is, which is insane, you should read the amazing article by Clay Dillow, who is the writer of this spicy headline, “It’s Time to Talk About Caymus, America’s Most Loved  — and Loathed — Fine Wine.” I will admit, at the beginning of this episode, I had actually never had Caymus before. For me coming into wine, it was always a wine that was talked about as a polarized wine. Then the price tag for me was one where it was like, “Well, if some people love it and some people don’t, I don’t know if I am willing to shell out for the wine.” Spoiler alert, we are going to drink it at the end of the episode. Zach, just from the beginning, as someone in the industry, when you hear someone talk about Caymus, what is your initial reaction?

Z: Oh, my goodness. I would say this, I think two things. One is I feel like my relationship to Caymus has changed a lot over the time I’ve been a wine professional. I think there was an early stage where it was part of this class of Napa Cabernet Sauvignons that I didn’t have the means to afford on my own for the most part. Even if stylistically, they might have appealed to me at that point in my life, it wasn’t something I could afford. It was something that maybe I had some passing familiarity with because it was popular, but I also was just not exposed to it very much. Then I went through the phase of all of these very popular, very highly regarded, highly pointed wines are bullsh*t. Why does anyone drink these? They’re just overpriced, over-sensationalized wines for people who are not willing to try something new. I want to be clear, there’s still a part of me that does feel that. I think the last thing, though, and the more the place I feel like I’m at with a wine like Caymus, and maybe even specifically with Caymus now, is a recognition that it does two things. One is it meets a very obvious consumer demand, and there’s always going to be wine in its ilk that does that. Caymus has been, in a lot of ways, at the top of this particular heap for quite a while, but there are other wines in its general classification, you’d almost put it, at different price points.

A: The President for one.

Z: Yes, there are wines that are less expensive that do a lot of what Caymus does. Quite honestly, there are wines that are more expensive that do what Caymus does, up to something like Screaming Eagle, which we’ve talked about in the podcast before, is the incredibly expensive version of this wine in a lot of ways. To say as a wine professional, like, “Oh, all of these wines are beneath me, or I shouldn’t even think about them,” is, I think, A) just ignoring where a lot of the wine-drinking public is at, although, as we’ll get into, maybe not where it’s going. Also it’s a kind of snobbery that I don’t really want to participate in anymore. I think Caymus is a fascinating topic to talk about because it’s both, as the headline points out, as Clay’s piece points out, loved and loathed in equal measure.

A: I think what’s so amazing about this topic is how hard it was for Clay to write this piece, how long it took him because so few wine professionals were willing to talk about Caymus on the record. I don’t think we have ever tried to do a piece before where this many people — I mean, he talked to, I think, over 50, 60 wine professionals — so many people are just like, “I don’t want to go there.” Whether it’s because they have Caymus on their list, but they don’t want it, so they don’t want to say they don’t like Caymus because they don’t want to upset Caymus because they need Caymus because Caymus actually sells, or because they like Caymus, but they don’t want that to be heard by their cool-kid friends in the industry. It’s such an interesting wine. I think what it does better than any wine currently on the market is it perfectly shows this massive separation between industry people or wine geeks, let’s say, and people who like expensive wine. Those are two very different camps. I was having a lot of fun going in and reading the Reddit thread about this. You were seeing that happen on Reddit wine, and again, Reddit wine plays a huge character in the story because it is a subreddit that loves to hate Caymus. There were people defending Caymus in the subreddit as well and saying a lot of the criticism that Caymus gets is bullsh*t. Lots of pubs, lots of wineries use Mega Purple, even wineries a lot of these people might say they like. Lots of wineries add things to try to soften the vintage or help things out when things aren’t going well. Lots of people may or may not be jealous of the success of this wine. This is a wine that has basically done incredible things for the family that owns it, allowed them to open multiple other wineries. The Wagner family is very, very wealthy because of this wine. Now they have lots of other brands because of this wine. There could be a jealousy factor there. In the same way that you sort of hear when people go after The Prisoner or like, “Ah, it’s crap.” Well, yes, but also someone figured out how to do it and you didn’t. I think it’s really interesting because what Caymus represents for me is a kind of wine that the majority of wine professionals refuse to admit is popular.

Z: I also want to say this, refusing to admit it tastes good. I think that’s a big part of it too. It’s because I don’t think people deny its popularity. I think they deny that it tastes good. That, I think, is a fundamental part of this tension.

A: I think what’s really interesting here is this kind of liquid exists in every other world of alcohol as well. Let’s take agave as the perfect example because it’s on fire right now. I think that there’s a really good parallel here. If you talk to most agave heads, first of all, they don’t even drink tequila anymore because it’s not legitimate enough. They’re only drinking mezcal. If they’re not drinking mescal and they’re still willing to drink tequila, they’re only drinking the pure vegetal, very like, small-production tequilas. They’re really wary of brands and the one brand they f*cking hate is Casamigos, which everyone admits is probably manipulated and has additives up to the legal amount just like Caymus. If it even has additives because we don’t know, but we all are assuming for both and the American public loves. Casamigos is the tequila brand right now that is on fire. I was just looking at Diageo’s most recent earnings, it’s growing faster than any other tequila they have in their portfolio, even Don Julio. It is massive for Diageo right now. All these other big brand tequilas are doing well, but not growing at the rate of Casamigos, and you talk to any big agave nerd, and they’ll tell you that Casamigos isn’t tequila. They will not admit that, yes, but in some versions Casamigos does taste good. In certain Margaritas with that vanilla profile, Casamigos can make a very rich, very decadent Margarita. Like it does. To your point, to a lot of consumers, Caymus not only tastes really good, it tastes the way an expensive wine they think is supposed to taste. This is this challenge that we’ve talked about for so many years now with wine, that the wine world, especially like the world of I would say city-based somms refuse to accept, which is, most consumers don’t want to fight with the thing’s that’s expensive. Like when you order a really expensive steak, if you order a bone-in ribeye or a tomahawk, it’s rich and fatty and tastes rich and fatty, which tastes expensive. Foie gras tastes rich and fatty and expensive. This is what they’re bringing to the world of beverage is this idea that the more opulent it tastes, the more it must be equal to the value. They’re not used to wines that are high in acidity and vegetal or really aggressive in tannins. That’s why I think sometimes when you find consumers who ultimately try, I don’t know, a Barolo and fall in love, it’s usually a Barolo that has a good bit of age on it because everything has softened. That’s the other thing too, we haven’t even talked about yet, because there’s so much to talk about here, but Caymus is good out of the f*cking bottle for most people. Doesn’t need to be decanted, it’s consistent every year, and all of that is so interesting to me.

Z: Yes. I want to add a couple things here that I think are really relevant and then touch on what you were mentioning there, Adam. One of them is that I think that the wine geek realm, whether it’s producers, somms, writers, and other journalists in some cases, tend to spend a lot of time and energy and emotion thinking about wine as a struggle. About how hard it is to grow the grapes, how hard it is to make the wine, and in some cases, how complex and challenging the wines themselves are. I don’t mean to say that any one of those things is untrue. I think in a lot of cases they are, but I think it’s important to remember that for people outside of that world, wine is not an intellectual pursuit for many of them. Wine is not their livelihood. Wine is their release, wine is their treat, and wines that meet those needs, again, throughout flavor profiles, price points, et cetera, tend to do really well, because it conforms to what people want the wine that they drink to do, to offer them something, in this case of Caymus and others, lushness, decadence, opulence, luxury. Things that people can connect to and say like, “Ah, yes, here is the bottle that I have paid upwards of $80 or $100 for in a store. Several hundred dollars on a wine list in many cases, and it meets the mark. It’s not a wine that’s going to force me, it’s not going to challenge me. In saying that, I find a part of me being like, well, but then what’s the point of spending money on wine in a sense? Again, this is where you and I and others have to check our own experience, our own relation to wine and to alcohol and realize that the public is telling us something with the popularity of these wines. It’s not just what some people cynically would say, which is like, “Oh, well people don’t know what good stuff is. They’ve only ever had grocery-store wine. This is a more expensive version of that so of course it appeals to them.” Again, is there some truth to that? Perhaps, but I think it’s important that Caymus in particular as a wine, and others are very closely associated with Napa. Again, what is Napa selling about itself? It’s selling easy living. Luxury, sunshine, gentleness, and Caymus’ wines encapsulate that. It’s not a surprise that Chuck Wagner and his family were one of the early producers to be like, let’s just let our grapes hang on the vine for a really long time. Let’s let them continue to soak up that October sunshine in Napa. Let’s let them get really ripe, develop the tannins really fully, and make them really soft and gentle, and we’re going to present this wine that is a distilled form of what people envision Napa Valley to be like. Again, for people who have never been there, a bottle of Caymus is an excellent way to get there.

A: I think that is absolutely true. I think the biggest thing that I would argue most people are guilty of in this loved and loathe world of Caymus is most people who have a very strong opinion against it have either tasted it and, as you said, Zach, are unwilling to at least discuss why people like it, accept why people like it, understand why people like it or they never tasted it. I think that there’s very few wines out there now like that, especially at this price point. What has been so fascinating to us about Caymus for so long is when we go to wine festivals, we sponsor like Charleston Food and Wine or we did the New York Food and Wine Festival here as a media sponsor, et cetera. We do like a masterclass and we get people who show up to wine classes and they’re paying $150, $250 for these wine classes at these festivals. The wine that people ask us about more than any other wine is Caymus. “I love Caymus. What other wines are like Caymus?” Again, these are people who love wine and this is where I think the industry is having a problem. Again, I can’t believe I’m coming back after being out for a few weeks and we’re back to this why wine is hurting discussion. These are people who say they love wine, and when people tell you that they love something, you need to believe them. They say they love wine and they love this wine and you as a professional tell them that this isn’t a wine worth loving. What is that going to do to their impression of the wine industry? I think that it’s a huge issue that keeps coming up. I saw on Reddit, someone said to this that Caymus is the Johnnie Walker Blue of wine. How many people love Johnnie Walker Blue and who think that like a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue is like the ultimate super-special- occasion gift? Someone gets married and it’s like the present you give to that person the night before the wedding, everyone cheers with Johnnie Walker Blue. It means a lot to a lot of people. Again, that has opened up so many people and turned them into whiskey drinkers, so many. Expensive whiskey drinkers, and again, you just don’t hear the same amount of hatred in the world of spirits from spirits professionals. You just don’t, because again, they understand what the sales of a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue does for their bottom line. I think that’s why you saw so many people who were unwilling to talk about Caymus because deep down everyone admits this is the fine wine that sells. This is the fine wine that they can move and there’s lots of lists when we were doing research they’re selling this for four or five times markup and people are still paying it.

Z: It’s really funny, you say that reminds me of an interaction I had with a wine director at a place I worked a number of years ago and just was like I wasn’t trying to be too much of the person that I discussed earlier but I was like, why do we have Caymus on the list? It wasn’t totally incongruent with the rest of the selections but it was probably the largest-production wine on our list. They showed me an invoice for what they paid for Caymus and then pointed to the price on the list. I was like, “Oh, okay. I get it.” It’s like there is a thing of I don’t have any problem with any given wine list or any restaurant that says it’s not what we want to carry. Fine. Then you need to be prepared to meet the people who come in and say, “I’m looking for a bottle of Cabernet,” and you ask what do they usually drink? They say, “Caymus.” That response has to come with a degree of respect towards their drinking choice. Not like, “Ugh, really, you drink Caymus? Get out of here. I guess I’ll find you whatever I’ve lowered myself to carry that’s similar or whatever.” I think that’s a thing that I find really frustrating about the conversation around this, which is the denigration of this wine, and in particular, the people who drink it, who love it, who are big fans of it. Yes. Are some of those people perhaps uncurious about the rest of the world of wine, and they’re happy to just drink the same wine over and over again and again. To be clear, part of what’s made Caymus so successful is that they do deliver the same wine year in and year out. However they achieve that effect, some other producers may not choose to go that route, whether it’s viticulture or winemaking or both, but that’s fine. I think there’s a lot of value to a lot of consumers in predictability and in, as you said, Adam, the ability for the wine to be, what you expect it to be. The moment you pull the cork and pour it in your glass, you don’t have to lay it down for a decade. You don’t have to decant it for two hours before you drink it. It is there, ready to roll to give you that, again, that kind of Napa-in-a-bottle experience. If you can’t connect with people who, as you said, Adam, gave all these examples of people who come up and are like, “I love wine, here’s what I love most. I also know that I maybe do want to try some other stuff.” If you can’t come to that person and be like, “All right, great.” Even whoever you are in the world of wine, that person has gotten over one big hurdle, which is like, well, two big hurdles. One, they like wine, and two, they’re willing to spend a lot of money on their wine. These are not people who are like, it’s one thing to be resistant to someone who says their favorite wine is a $10 grocery-store bottle because perhaps you as a proprietor of a higher-end wine shop, or someone who has an extensive wine list is going to look at that person and be like, “Are you really going to spend money on wine? Are you really worth my time?” The person who’s drinking a lot of Caymus is probably spending a lot of money on wine. If nothing else, from, again, a cold economic perspective, it behooves you to be accommodating to those people because there are people who will help support your restaurant or wine shop or whatever.

A: Well, I think what’s really interesting too, about Caymus and to piggyback on one of your points quickly, first, I do think one of the things that we’re both saying, I’m not sitting here arguing. I don’t think you are either that people in wine who love high acid and more biodynamic, viticulture practices, more natural fermentation, it’s all that stuff, have to love Caymus. I’m just saying, if you’re someone who’s in the wine world and you want to be someone who helps bring new people into wine, like if you just want to sit in your little corner and like be angry, that’s fine. I don’t need to f*ck with you. You know what I mean? You don’t need to f*ck with VinePair. If that’s who you are and you just want to be bitter and angry and think that only wine made in concrete eggs from obscure grapes that no one’s ever heard of before is real wine, cool, man. I’m sure there’s a zine you can read. I think if you want to understand what excites people about wine and help them then find the wines you’re excited about, you at least need to understand Caymus and be able to appreciate it for what it is and not just say, “Well, it f*cking sucks and it’s made with Mega Purple. It should f*ck off.” I think that’s where the issue is and that’s why we wanted to talk about it so badly. Also, I think the thing that Caymus does so well that comes across in the article and then I was reintroduced to by purchasing it is like, it is both because, and this is the mind-boggling thing about Napa. It is both expensive and affordable for Napa. This wine was $108. I just bought it across the street at a wine shop here in the NoMad neighborhood. It was $108 on the shelf. I don’t know, what did you pay for in Seattle?

Z: Well, the shelf price was, I think, $74.

A: That’s better.

Z: Yes. Shout-out to Total Wine.

A: Yes. Oh, you got it at Total? Yes, we don’t have a Total here. Still, that’s an expensive wine. Wines that have this much of a cult following in Napa are much more expensive than this.

Z: Usually. Yes.

A: I think another wine that’s, I guess, more, I guess you would say is old-school, right? What is it? Schafer or even the BV Latour. George Latour, whatever, those are all $250, $300 dollar bottles of wine. Caymus is in New York, which is probably the most expensive market for it. $100. Yeah. That again is this brilliant thing, and again, because of probably how much they produce. There are wines out there that are these really expensive fine wines that I do think the industry has to understand whether or not you want to like them. Another wine that actually I think about a lot on the white side is Rombauer. You can hate Rombauer all you want, you can think it’s a crazy over-oaked liquified butter in a glass of wine, but they can’t keep it in stock. They had one of the largest vineyard purchases in the last few years because they can’t produce enough. Clearly, it’s popular. It’s at least important to have tried it and then be able to know why they’re a group of people that are willing to spend Rombauer Chardonnay. Again, not cheap.

Z: I think the last thing, and then we should try this, is-

A: I can’t wait.

Z: -it’s not only that the wines are popular, it’s been my experience every time I’ve tasted these things, and I’ve tasted Caymus a number of times before, to be clear, I am not the drinker Adam is. Not in so many ways. I do think that there’s an important note, which is that almost across the board when I try wines like this that are so controversial, at least, I’m always struck by like how when I taste them, I’m like, “This wine, to me, is way less controversial than all of the stuff swirling around it.” We’ll see how you feel about it and we’ll see it. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve had Caymus, so I may feel differently now. I do think that it’s always one of those things where like all these things get greatly blown out of proportion that the things about it that people find objectionable are rarely as evident in the glass, at least as the way they’re talked about.

A: Well, so let’s pour it. As we pour it, I want to talk about something. If you look at the bottle, it says it’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Now again, we know that Napa rules and regulations are — I think 70 percent has to be Cabernet. There could be something else in here. Who knows?

Z: I’m sure there is.

A: I think what also is really interesting about Caymus, which I just noticed when I turn my bottle down. Again, one of the things about it is its consistency. I have the 2020 vintage.

Z: Same here.

A: Zach, at least the alcohol level, they are listing on the back of the bottle, I’m pretty shocked, is as low as it is. It’s 14.4. Now, I know that you can go within, what is it, a percentage up or down, but-

Z: 1.5 percent legally.

A: Oh. Still, for lots of Napa Cabs, especially among this same, what the biases of more of our like wine insider, cool-kid somm Club would say is that high alcohol is what that consumer wants. You would think if this did have high alcohol in it, Caymus would be telling you it’s 15.5 because that’s what they think that consumer wants. It’s 14.4.

Z: Well, I think it speaks to attention there, which is people like the way that higher-alcohol wines taste and make them feel, but they don’t necessarily want to in their face that they’re drinking a high-alcohol wine.

A: Look, I will say on the nose, for me, the immediate thing it reminds me of is Manischewitz.

Z: Interesting.

A: It does. Maybe it’s because it was Passover recently and-

Z: I was going to say, were you just drinking some Manischewitz?

A: It does remind me of Manischewitz. I guess what I mean by that, for those who have not had Manischewitz, is Manischewitz is a clearly sweetened Concord grape red wine that is kosher that people only drink when they have to unless you’re religious. For me it’s an ingredient in harosets, which is part of that sort of meal. Yeah, it does smell like Manischewitz to me. Leaves me to believe so, there’s sugar in it.

Z: Yes, I think the ripeness of the grapes is a fundamental piece. I want to say one thing before we get into the taste real quick though about the bottle, too, because I think it’s important to note. I think another reason that Caymus has remained popular is even though the Wagner family has become incredibly successful, it is still a family-owned winery in a way that, something The Prisoner, which was started by Dave Phinney and then sold off to Constellation, he wasn’t the person who created it. The name that was attached to it has not been involved in many years. Whereas it is still the Wagner family who runs this winery. You can see it on. The label has not changed in a long time. The back of the label has family photos. It talks a lot about the family. It doesn’t have much in the way of tasting notes. For someone who finds a certain appeal in that it, I think it does feel different than some of the other, larger-scale production Napa wines that maybe don’t have that same. Even if even again, the veneer of family is a little weird because they’re making 200,000 cases of this. It has that aesthetic to it that I do think resonates with some people.

A: Well, I think so too. The other thing, now that we’re really dissecting its look, which is important, is it’s like in a shiner bottle. It has a working-class, salt-of-the-earth simplicity to it. It’s not in a huge ostentatious Bordeaux bottle. It’s not massively heavy. It doesn’t have the deepest punch you’ve ever seen in your life, like a lot of Napas. The bottle is clear, which is also interesting. Well, a light green tint. Right. It’s not super dark. They’re letting you see how inky the wine is. All these things, I think, are really interesting and clearly intentional choices or maybe they weren’t in the beginning, and this is what they had, but it makes the wine also very unique.

Z: It’s a very distinctive bottle in its set, and that’s, I think, another reason why it succeeds. I have also noticed the glass, but I’m going to taste because that’s really what we’re here to do.

A: Look, there’s almost no tannin. There’s a little bit of acidity, but not a ton. Just enough. It is very fruity, extremely fruit-forward and extremely easy to drink. Almost like a light-in-body in a weird way.

Z: It’s funny you said that. Yes, I was thinking something along those lines.

A: If you chilled this, someone would be, oh, this might taste like some of those Napa Pinot Noirs, you know what I mean? Maybe we don’t have just Pinot in them. All of it does really well. Which, again, this is like a wine that’s like — we’ve talked about this a bunch, too, that I think a lot of wine professionals don’t want to admit is a lot of consumers with money who like wine — watch any TV show. Any of the popular TV shows where the main character is really into wine, they’re sitting around after work having a glass of wine holding it by the bulb. This is a wine that performs well there. You don’t need food with this wine.

Z: No.

A: You absolutely don’t. Do people think that it probably does really well with steak? Yes, that’s why it’s one of the top sellers at every single major steakhouse chain in the country. I think it probably is the top seller at every major steakhouse chain in the country, which is why so many beverage directors at major steakhouse chains refuse to talk to us. I think, again, that is because it does well in both settings. The wine is just like, I’ll be really interested, I’m going to bring this upstairs and leave it on the bar for the staff because I think there’s a lot of members of the staff who’ve never had it before. I’m curious what a lot of people think about it because I think we’re going to have people on staff that love it who are like, wow. Especially people who maybe some of our spirits writers, et cetera, are like, wow, this is really good, because it’s built. It’s designed in a way that makes it very easy to appreciate.

Z: Exactly. I think here’s a last point of distinction that I’ll make. I think it is fair to criticize Caymus Wines as perhaps not the most complex or challenging wines on the market. Again, as I said before, unclear who decided that those were the single most important characteristics for a wine to possess and also why that should matter to every wine drinker. I don’t think either of those things are inherently true. I don’t think you can taste this wine and be like, this is bad wine. It might not be the kind of wine that any given wine drinker or wine professional might choose to drink on their own. Especially when coupled with the price point, which as we said for the category is maybe not that high, but for wine as a collective unit is quite high. It does exactly what it should do given everything we’ve said about it, and that’s why it’s so f*cking popular because a lot of wine, frankly, disappoints for the price. Especially expensive Napa wine. Caymus is less expensive than most of those, and I think, at a minimum, does not disappoint. Like we said, it’s ready to go right out the shoot. It does what it sets out to do, and I think that’s, in a way, admirable.

A: I think what’s also interesting about this for me, now I’m coming as a newb who’s never tried it before, Zack, I’m not getting that massive amount of new French oak you get with some of these Napa wines. There’s a lot more fruit, which is interesting. I think that’s another ding that a lot of Napa wines get, especially the high-end wines, is how much oak is used. It’s really not there here in the same way. It’s there. It’s definitely there, but it’s not there as aggressively as other Napa wines at the same price point or higher.

Z: Yes, it’s really about the grape ripeness.

A: It really is. It’s about the grape ripeness.

Z: That’s what is driving the flavor here.

A: It’s so interesting. Again, you’re right. It’s just this thing that if you pop this and it’s $100 — this is why people need to try this wine because you need to then say, if I were not in the wine journey that I’m currently on and I hadn’t learned to appreciate, because just like anything, we learn to appreciate fine art, we learn to appreciate and the kind of fine art we appreciate is different for everybody. I’ve learned to appreciate styles of Barolo, Bierzo, things like that, but if you can sit here and just drink it and say, “I can appreciate why this tastes expensive to most people, or at least tastes equal to the money I paid,” I think then you get it. For me, tasting this, that’s what I’m able to do. If I can taste this and say, “Yes.” If I gave this to someone and they knew it was a $100 and they opened it and they poured it in their glass, they would 100 percent say, “This is what a 100 point.” I get that this was $100. I think that is a huge achievement, whether or not we want to, whether or not Caymus will ever be a wine that is in my cellar, which for me, probably not. It won’t be, but for other people it can be and that’s fine. That’s good.

Z: Yes. Again, I don’t mean to say either, to say that people can’t have real potential objections to things about this wine, the way they make it, the way they grow the grapes, or the way the Wagner family has conducted business at times, but I think that those are criticisms that are fair and can be raised. I also think that some of them can be — Caymus has, the piece points out, is a lighting rod. It draws a lot of criticism that could fairly be leveled at a lot of other wines and a lot of other producers in Napa and around the world. Again, when you’re this successful, that’s part of what comes with it. You’re going to take the flack because you are the biggest target. I do think that just from the standpoint of understanding why it’s so popular, understanding why the wine-drinking public as a whole loves Caymus, it is critical for wine professionals to do that and to treat those people not like rubes who’ve been suckered by the wine. They’re not that.

A: Yes, they’re not. Hit us up, [email protected]. Let us know what you think. Have you had it before? What are your opinions? Do you want to go on the record? Zach, I’ll talk to you Monday.

Z: Sounds great.

Thanks so much for listening to the VinePair podcast, the flagship podcast of the VinePair podcast network. If you love listening to this show or even if you don’t, but I really hope that you do, as much as we really do love making it, then please drop us a review or a rating wherever it is that you get your podcast. Whether that be iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, anywhere.

If you are listening to this on a device right now through an app, however you got this audio, please drop a review. It really helps everyone else discover the show and now for some totally awesome credits, so the VinePair podcast is recorded in our New York City headquarters and in Seattle, Washington, in Zach Geballe’s basement. It is recorded by Zach, mastered and produced by Zach.

He loves all the credit. Keep giving it to him. Drop his name in the reviews. He’s going to love hearing how much you love him. It is also recorded in New York City by our tastings director, Keith Beavers, who is the managing director of the entire VinePair podcast network. I’d also love to give a shout-out to our editor-in-chief, Joanna Sciarrino, who joins us on every single podcast as our third and most important host.

Thank you as well to the entire VinePair staff and everyone who’s been involved in making VinePair as special as it’s become. Thanks again for listening and we’ll see you next week.