Cain Cuvee has been one of our favorite wines from the first time we tried it. When ever we can find it, in a store or even a restaurant, guess what, that is what is chosen. We affectionately call it “Cain Five Lite” only because it is so affordable in comparison and still delivers quality. It is always a pleasure for me to watch my Bride when she finds the wine when we are out, there are even times when the whole dinner menu selection is altered, because of this wine.
In 1980, Jerry and Joyce Cain purchase fifty-five-hundred acres, part of the McCormick Ranch on Spring Mountain. Their vision was to create a mountain vineyard with the intention of emulating the great wines of the Medoc. The first vintage was in 1985, and in 1986 they were joined by Jim and Nancy Meadlocks, and since the retirement of the Cains, the Meadlocks became sole owners and have continued to follow the original vision. Five generations of a family grew up on the McCormick Ranch and much of the ranch is still in the family’s hands. At one time the ranch was three-thousand acres on both sides of Mayacamas Range and was used for sheep ranching, until it became financially unviable in the 1970’s to continue that business. The homestead is part of the McCormick Sanctuary, through the largesse of the family and has become part of the California State Park System. In 1991, the vision of the Cains became known as Cain Vineyard & Winery.
While Cain Vineyard & Winery makes Cain Five from the original mountain vineyards and Cain Concept is a similar wine made from vineyards from the Benchland, Cain Cuvee is now a Merlot dominant blend and originally it was made each year as a vintage. In the cellar, we still have Cain Cuvee 1996 and 1997 that are still Cabernet Sauvignon dominated and label “The serious art of having fun.” Then the wine changed in 1998 still with the traditional label but now it is Cain Cuvee NV8 and then Cain Cuvee NV9, the numerals designate the year of blending, because the wine is a blend of two vintages and while most wine that is listed as NV means Non-Vintage as in Sparkling Wines, Cain uses the two letters preceding the numeral and it is read as “eN-Vy” and these wines are still Cabernet Sauvignon based. The other wines of this series that I have in the cellar have a new style label and they are Cain Cuvee NV5 and Cain Cuvee NV9 for 2005 and 2009 and now the wines are Merlot based.
Now onto the new wines that we purchased, a library vertical of three eN-Vy years that we bought a case of, without tasting a drop, just based on our faith of the winemaker and his skill and artistry. The labels have changed again and are now a diamond shape and the back label now reads “harvested, vinified and blended for freshness, lightness, complexity and balance.” The wines also carry a Napa Valley designation as the fruit can be from their Spring Mountain estate and from their Benchland vineyards. The labels are also written different. NV12 Cain Cuvee Napa Valley is a blend of fifty percent Merlot, thirty-two percent Cabernet Sauvignon, ten percent Cabernet Franc, four percent Petit Verdot and four percent Malbec. NV13 Cain Cuvee Napa Valley is fifty-one percent Merlot, twenty-eight percent Cabernet Sauvignon, nineteen percent Cabernet Franc and two percent Petit Verdot. NV14 Cain Cuvee Napa Valley is forty-eight percent Merlot, thirty-one percent Cabernet Sauvignon, thirteen percent Cabernet Franc and eight percent Petit Verdot. As you can see, the wines are not a cookie-cutter assembly, but done through plenty of experimentation to get the best wine from the vintages. I am sure that we will have offers from friends to offer their expertise on a vertical tasting or just to help get rid of some of the old dust covered bottles.