What We Say 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
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Mission Codename: Domitilla the Elder
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Titus Vineyards, at the northern end of Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail. In time for our Operatives’ holiday tables, procure their fantastic 2007 Titus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Titus Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Phillip Titus
If 2004 was a great year for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (95 points), then 2007 is turning out to be stellar. Rated a whopping 99 points by Wine Spectator (recommending a ‘Hold’, but this wine is ready to go, now), this exceptional example from Titus Vineyards is well worthy of your attention. Titus Vineyards is based in the Saint Helena AVA, which was established in 1995 but Titus’ history in the region dates back to 1967.
Some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in the world come from Napa Valley. A delicious and elegant example of the varietal, today’s wine is a Classic Napa Cabernet. Approachable, darkly flavorful and robust, this wine shows off the winemaking skills of Philip Titus – at a price that is difficult to resist. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and winemaker interview to learn more about this fantastic Napa Cab
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby hues a the the edges of the glass deepen as you look toward the dark black cherry-juice core of the wine. After swirling, branching, wine-stained legs take their sweet time in crawling toward the surface.
Smell – Lush and dusky, with very aromatic black cherry, blackberry, cassis, blueberry, and crushed dried dark red flower petals. These sit easily atop soft spice, smoky dark chocolate, rosewood shavings, black pepper and a hint of anise.
Feel – Big and bold, almost immediately, with a cool entry that quickly yields to an all around the mouth crushed velvet feel that is introduced by plush tannins.
Taste – Lead by big black cherry, blueberry, dark chocolate, blackberry and cassis, this wine then gives way to crushed red flower petals, India black tea, cigarbox, black pepper, soft dried meats and a soft flinty mineral spice.
Finish – Deep, flavor-filled and very long, lead by pronounced dark fruit – particularly black cherry, blackberry and smoky blueberry. Flavors go on and on, eventually ending with spiced chocolate, plum and dark minerals.
Conclusion – The 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet from our friends at Titus is a big, classic Napa Cabernet – with that signature Titus flavor profile that we Wine Spies have come to revere. The wine is long on rich flavors and we found ourselves enjoying the aromatics just as much, spending a great deal of our review time on simply inhaling the wine. Once we did start sipping, it was difficult to keep our glasses full. A bold but bright and very food-friendly wine, we paired our review bottle with grilled pizza with arugula, Gorgonzola and black mission figs. The food and the wine played beautifully with one another. Drink now, or hold for another ten years or more!
WINEGROWER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Eric Titus
WINE EDUCATION: Non-degree coursework and lots of time and experience in the industry.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Vineyard manager and winemaker for Titus Vineyards for twenty years.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Striving to optimize the quality that expresses the terroir and sense of place of Titus Vineyards, a family owned operation in the St. Helena AVA with a long presence as a grower and vintner.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1993 (1990 Vintage)
AGENT RED: Greetings, Eric. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
ERIC TITUS: It is our pleasure to back with you on another covert mission, today!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
ERIC: My love of wine is a composite of experiences and imagery that includes the omnipresence of wine in the lives and families of my Italian relatives both in San Francisco and the old country, the presence of old producing vineyards in my hometown of Sonoma, the old boxcars that rumbles through Sonoma carrying wine shipments, the local historic role of wine that was always celebrated locally. My interest grew as I studied biology and became fascinates with science behind and the fermentation and aging process. Finally as I grew to understand what makes the world turn, I became equally fascinated with the role wine (and alcoholic beverages in general) plays in our society, culture and local commerce.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
ERIC:The turning point in developing our style, like many Napa producers, was probably the 1997 vintage, where rich we discovered the possibilities in making rich, concentrated wines with balance and intense flavors. We had already experimenting with Bordeaux-style blending (Malbec, Petite Verdot) and continued to develop that in the ensuing vintages.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
ERIC: Fortunately there seems to be a convergence of preference in our style for all of the above. However our wines all have the pass the preference test put forth by our family and the Titus Vineyards staff.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ERIC: 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with Petite Verdot and Malbec with a bit of Merlot. A classic Bordeaux blend put together under Saint Helena AVA conditions. Big, bold, aromatic but balanced with characteristic Napa Cabernet Sauvignon notes of cherry and chocolate.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ERIC: Anything from bean cassoulet to Hangar steak.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the St. Helena region so special?
ERIC: Saint Helena is a very diverse region, but what probably differentiates it is it an area with ample rainfall, generally well-drained soils and consistently warm growing seasons that start early in the Spring, with a large temperature differential between the days and nights. This makes for balanced, structural fruit with great flavor development and provides good growing conditions for a diverse array of grape varieties.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ERIC: The wines are finishing fermenting, going through ML and the vineyards are in senescence awaiting pruning.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
ERIC: In a sense wine approaches people more than the other way around. People are usually introduced to wines by others, i.e. not of their own choosing. One should start to establish a reference point of what they like and build a preference matrix as they try more wines.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
ERIC: Everything they say about the 2007 vintage is true. Get them while they last.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Titus Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards and Accolades:
About This Wine:
Our 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has a shimmering, intense purple and ruby color. The nose is alluring and complex with aromas of black cherry, blueberry, lavender, currant, apple, sweet basil leaf and exotic notes of toasted chocolate, crème Brule and oak spice. The mouth-feel is full-bodied and rich with well integrated, fine grain tannins give way to lush, juicy flavors of blackberry and blueberry accompanied by dark chocolate, and anise. The finish is long and velvety with sweet cherry, clove spice, tobacco and pencil shavings. Recommended drinking time is five to ten years from vintage. Maximum suggested aging is fifteen years from vintage.
The Vintage: Our 2007 grape crop exhibited many high quality wine indicators as a result of the year’s lower rainfall, early bloom, timely veraison and moderate temperatures. The limited amount of vine stress due to low rainfall over the winter and a solid, warm summer without a lot of heat spikes fostered even grape ripening. The cluster shapes and berry sizes looked ideal. The crop was smaller, with lighter clusters, smaller berries, and thicker skins lending a tannic bite that will yield wines with exceptional structure and age-worthiness. There was an ideal mix of well ripened and just-right berries with very little variation. We expected a short, furious harvest; however, it ended up being one of the longer ones starting September 14th and ending on October 15th.
Vineyard: Our family vineyard, located on the valley floor just north of St. Helena on the Silverado Trail, possesses well-drained, sandy, alluvial soils and is characterized by its ability to produce complex wines with well-defined fruit flavors, gentle acids and naturally balanced tannins. The Cabernet Sauvignon vines vary in age. They were most recently planted between the years 1996 to 2001 and are a combination of the 337 and See clones. Further north, our Ehlers Lane Vineyard consists of a stony, dry streambed and a knoll composed of thin gravelly soil over hard volcanic ash. Planted entirely to Cabernet Sauvignon these infertile soils produce low yields of grapes with concentrated flavors.
Vinification: Following harvest, the grapes were de-stemmed but not crushed, allowing increased control over tannin extraction by minimizing the possibility of broken skins and split seeds. Following a 48-hour cold soak to extract color and flavor, the grapes underwent a warm, short fermentation, with pump-overs occurring twice daily. The free-run juice was transferred to oak barrels, where it underwent malolactic fermentation.
About The Winery:
When the Titus story began, life in Napa Valley was simpler than it is today, and California’s wine industry had yet to achieve its enormous potential. The vineyard Lee and Ruth Titus acquired in 1967 was planted to Mondeuce, Burger, and Golden Chasselas, varietals all but forgotten today, but prevalent before the emphasis in Napa Valley evolved from quantity to quality and from generic to varietal wines. Also grown were ringers like Pinot Noir, poorly suited to our warm, up-valley microclimate.
Now that we have over thirty years experience working the land, our vineyard is supported with disease resistant rootstock, planted to clones and varietals tuned to fit our vineyards’ terrior, and farmed with a single purpose: to produce excellent quality wines rivaling the best in the world. Lee loved what was happening in Bordeaux at the time and decided those were the grape varieties he wanted to plant. And so it began, with Lee holding a book on Bordeaux in one hand and planting grapevines with the other saying, “you boys are going to need this some day.” At that time, planting Malbec and Petit Verdot for example, was relatively unheard of and probably considered risky. Now, Phillip and Eric absolutely appreciate their father’s foresight.
Lee Titus and his family came to California from Minnesota during the Depression. After graduating from Fresno State and serving in World War II, Lee attended medical school and became a radiologist. Meanwhile, Ruth Traverso grew up in San Francisco’s North Beach, where her parents, immigrants from the Piemonte region of Italy, were involved in the family bakery business. During family vacations in Calistoga, Ruth helped friends harvest their grapes, giving her a love for Napa Valley and a kinship with grape farming.
Years later, having fallen in love, married and settled in the town of Sonoma with their four sons, Lee and Ruth began acquiring fifty acres in three separate parcels just north of St. Helena along the valley floor. Although they hoped one day to build a family operated winery, it would be more than twenty years before they crushed fruit for production of Titus Vineyards wines. Lee and Ruth spent those years raising their sons and producing grapes for other wineries, including Charles Krug, Beaulieu Vineyards, Quail Ridge, and Pine Ridge.
Ultimately, Lee and Ruth left the creation of Titus Vineyards wines up to their sons: Phillip works as winemaker for Titus Vineyards, while Eric manages the business and vineyards. Peter and Paul are now pursuing careers in horticulture and anthropology, respectively.
About The Vineyard:
Our family vineyard, located on the valley floor just north of St. Helena on the Silverado Trail, possesses well-drained, sandy, alluvial soils and is characterized by its ability to produce complex wines with well-defined fruit flavors, gentle acids and naturally balanced tannins. Further north, our Ehlers Lane Vineyard consists of a stony, dry streambed and a knoll composed of thin gravelly soil over hard volcanic ash. Planted entirely to Cabernet Sauvignon these infertile soils produce low yields of grapes with concentrated flavors.
Following harvest, the grapes were de-stemmed but not crushed, allowing increased control over tannin extraction by minimizing the possibility of broken skins and split seeds. Following a 48-hour cold soak to extract color and flavor, the grapes underwent a warm, short fermentation, with pump-overs occurring twice daily. The free-run juice was transferred to oak barrels, where it underwent malolactic fermentation.
Vineyard Manager: Eric Titus
Winemaker: Phillip Titus
Appellation: Napa Valley
Blend: 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec, 1% Merlot 1% Cabernet Franc
Harvest Dates: 10/1/07 – 10/5/07
Barrel Aging: 22 months – 80% French Oak, 20% American Oak (40% new barrels)
Bottled: July 2009
Cases Produced: 4,448
Total Acidity: .60 grams/100ml
Release Date: March 15, 2010