Arriving at Titus Vineyards on our last day in California wine country I wasn’t exactly sure we were in the right place. The small white country house, at the front of the vineyards seemed out of place compared to the gigantic wineries that dot the Napa Valley. In fact Titus doesn’t have a regular tasting room, but Christophe was gracious enough to host us in an environment reminding me of tastings that we did in Northern Italy last year.
I have to admit I had little familiarity with Titus until earlier this year when Christophe and the Titus team decided to take the leap into social media. Using the online steaming video service Ustream, filmed interactive daily sessions of their harvest. During which I had the opportunity to ask questions directly to Phil and Eric to get an in depth perspective on their winemaking style, philosophy and culture that they create at their winery. After watching a weeks worth of video, I was hooked and knew that I had to visit and taste these wines that I had learned about. (you can also follow Christophe – @corkdork – on Twitter for action at Titus Vineyards)
We sat at a picnic table nestled among some olive trees directly across from the 40+ acres of vines that make up Titus Vineyards. The brothers Titus, Phil and Eric, run this small, 8000 case, second generation family winery. Phil is the winemaker and Eric is the vineyard manager, although both do no operate as separate entities, they work hand in hand to make the quality product that is Titus wines.
2006 Zinfandel $27 (comes from 10 acres of vines that were planted in the 1970s)
Nose – slightly tight with black currant and strawberry jam
Taste – blackberry, boysenberry, toast, chocolate
Mouthfeel – medium body, good acidity but still nice and round
Finish – long and dry with dried cranberry flavors
2006 Cabernet Franc $36 (75% Cabernet Franc, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 4% Merlot)
Nose – leather, black cherry, vanilla, cooked greens
Taste – blueberry, dried herbs, lots of cherry and a hint of green olive
Mouthfeel – dusty, full bodied and leathery dry tannins
Finish – still going
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon $41 (79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot, 7% Malbec, 1% Merlot)
Nose – violet, raspberry, earthy, smoke and eucalyptus
Taste – bright red fruit, tobacco, and allspice (interesting)
Mouthfeel – very round, hint of spiciness, fairly subdued tannins but still there
Finish – long, with some earthy, raspberry notes
2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $60 (90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Franc)
Nose – toasty oak, meaty/bacony, green beans, cherry
Taste – blueberry, black currant and red currant
Mouthfeel – smooth round up front with fuzzy tannins at the back
Finish – long with dried fruit flavors
2006 Petite Syrah $36 (100% Petite Syrah)
Nose – pine nut, leather and blackberry
Taste – blueberry, brambly fruit, tomato and red cherry
Mouthfeel – big full body, round lush tannins
Finish – medium to long, lots of dark fruit flavors
Needless to say Megan and I really enjoyed all the wines and I would have bought a bottle of each, but being at the end of the trip, we were already over our allotted wine budget. We did pick up the Cab Franc and the Cab Sauv though, the Cabernet Franc being our clear winner for the day. I wish all tastings could be this picturesque, sitting steps away from the vineyard where a wine is made is definitely one of the best ways to enjoy it. After we had finished tasting we filled our glasses with our wine of choice we took a stroll through the vineyards. We picked shriveled grapes off the vine and tasted what had been missed during the second pick and got a more in depth explanation of the plantings at Titus.
Thanks again to Christophe for hosting us, it was truly a pleasure.
PO Box 608
St. Helena, CA 94574