2011 Titus Andronicus Red Wine Napa Valley
 
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Vineyards of St. Helena, CA and 4.01 out of 5 stars! 2011 Bargain-Hunting Challenge on Silverado Trail

As you've no doubt noticed, bargain-hunting for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was never tougher than in the 2011 vintage. This was an unusually cool growing season that required extra TLC in the vines to bring clusters to full maturity. At Harlan Estate, Managing Director Don Weaver told us that their $850/bottle 2011 Cabernet was one of the best wines Harlan had ever made, largely because they'd been so severe in the vines and the sorting table. As a result, Weaver confided, production was down nearly 50 percent.

We heard the same refrain from Paul Roberts at Colgin and Todd Anderson at Anderson's Conn Valley, as well as Luc Morlet on Highway 29 in St. Helena. But in the case of wineries that purchase their fruit in lieu of growing it, 2011 stretched the limits of a number of long-time partnerships. Growers, mindful of the moth holes in their balance sheets after the short 2010 vintage, were loath to drop fruit. Wineries insisted that if the crop level wasn't trimmed back, late-maturing Cabernet Sauvignon would never ripen. This would make for a classic Mexican standoff in Napa Valley.

As a result, as we scoured the valley trying to leverage WineAccess's buying power, we largely limited our 2011 search to estate-grown wines. In the end, we would land just one estate-grown Cabernet blend that was drawn off a rocky 40-acre ranch in primetime St. Helena, just a stone's throw from Duckhorn.

Titus Vineyards have been owned and farmed by the Titus family since 1968. In the summer of 2011, Eric Titus tripled their efforts, instructing his vineyard crew to drop crop three times before the mid-October harvest. As at Harlan and Colgin, yields were trimmed by nearly 40 percent. The tiny crop that remained was pristine, full of small-berry clusters of excellent concentration and sturdy acid backbone — every bunch of which made a beeline for Phil Titus's crusher.

We've spoken quite a bit about Phil Titus's work up at Chappellet over the last few years. When Titus arrived at Chappellet, the winery was struggling, turning out broadly muscled Cabernets that would often take years to come out of their shell. In the early 2000s, Titus did an about-face, adopting the cellar protocol perfected by Craig Williams in the making of one of Napa's most iconic wines, Phelps Insignia. The techniques Titus brought to both Chappellet and to Titus pushed the envelope on ripeness and forward fruit, making for luscious Cabernet Sauvignons that were stunning out of the gate, but continued to add weight and complexity after a decade of bottle age.

Phil Titus's winemaking signature is all over this lavish 2011 Titus Andronicus.

Brilliant purple to the rim with plush aromas of blackberry preserves, mountain blueberry and violets. Rich, dense and ultra-juicy on the attack, velour-like in texture, packed with a flashy mix of crushed-black-fruit compote and sweet spice, all braced by chiseled, soft-tannin backbone. Drink now (hard not to) or lay our ONE and ONLY STEAL of the 2011 vintage down for 5-8 years. It could use the rest.



Tasting Notes

2011 Titus Andronicus Red Wine Napa Valley
"Brilliant purple to the rim with plush aromas of blackberry preserves, mountain blueberry and violets. Rich, dense and ultra-juicy on the attack, velour-like in texture, packed with a flashy mix of crushed-black-fruit compote and sweet spice, all braced by chiseled, soft-tannin backbone. Drink now (hard not to) or lay our ONE and ONLY STEAL of the 2011 vintage down for 5-8 years. It could use the rest."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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