Titus Vineyards: Impressive New Releases from Napa Valley

The Titus Estate Vineyard in St. Helena

The Titus family recently celebrated their 50th anniversary growing grapes and making wine in the Napa Valley.  Lee Titus purchased what is now the 50 acre Titus Ranch Estate in the heart of the St. Helena Appellation in 1968 and later replanted it to the five classic Bordeaux varieties.  They sold the grapes until 1990 when they produced their first vintage at Chappellet Winery.  Today their specialty is Cabernet Sauvignon, but they also produce Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.  We review their impressive current releases below.

Phillip and Eric Titus

Today, Lee’s sons, Eric and Phillip Titus, manage the Titus vineyard and winery. A UC Davis grad, Phillip works directly with Titus winemaker Stephan Cruzan. Phillip has also made the wine at Chappellet since 1990 and is a consultant for several prominent Napa Valley wineries.

The Titus Estate Vineyard is mostly planted to Bordeaux varietals, including 5 clones of Cabernet Sauvignon planted in the late 80’s-early 90’s. Their other vineyard, purchased by Lee in 1972, is located on Ehlers Lane. It is 10 acres of Clone 337 Cabernet Sauvignon which produces loose clusters of tiny berries that find their way into the winery’s Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ehlers Lane Vineyard at the foot of Howell Mountain

The Wines

Titus Vineyards 2021 Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley ($36) 91  Pale straw. Floral and citrus scents waft from the glass of this nicely balanced Sauvignon Blanc. On the palate, there’s good depth of flavor, just right acidity, and the flavors fall in the lemon-lime citrus profile with just a hint of fresh thyme. Barrel aging on the lees contributes to the full and firm mouth feel without lending noticeable oak flavors. Finishes clean and crisp with lingering rich extract. 14.1% alc. 96% Sauvignon Blanc and 4% Viognier sourced from vines planted in 2004 on the Titus estate. Whole cluster pressed, fermented in stainless steel, and aged in neutral oak.

Titus Vineyards 2019 Cabernet Franc Napa Valley ($62) 93 Dark red. Vibrant aromas that recall dark red fruit with herbal, vanilla and toasted oak notes. Juicy attack and compelling blend of power and refinement on a layered, complex palate. Forest floor, cooking spice, sandalwood and herbal notes complement dark red berry and plum like fruit. Superb balance and complexity in a real Cabernet Franc. Finishes with tannic grip; should age well and improve with cellaring for 3-4 years. A blend of 86% Cabernet Franc, 7% Malbec, and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the Titus Estate Vineyard and from the Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard in south Napa. After fermentation racked to barrel for 20 months in 65% new French oak. 14.5% alc.

Titus Vineyards 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($65) 92 Showing a pretty, fruit forward nose of cassis and red berry with a cedar nuance, this Cabernet has a silky mouth feel. It’s bright and fresh with high toned fruit, spice and an attractive brambly note on a well-balanced palate. There’s a lingering sense of purity on the long finish. Tannins are nicely integrated, making this Cabernet drinkable now. 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7.5% Petit Verdot, 7% Merlot, and 4.5% Malbec primarily sourced from the Titus Ranch Estate and matured in 60% new French and Hungarian oak. 14.5% alc.

Titus Vineyards 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Family Estate Reserve Napa Valley ($115) 94  Gradually emerging, vibrant aromas of dark berries, cocoa powder and cedar spice. The attack is silky, leading to a refined and well balanced palate with lovely dark fruit and minerals with savory notes finishing impressively long. A firm tannic grip suggests cellaring for 4-5 years, but it’s approachable now with the right food. An impressive, elegant Napa Cab. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot primarily sourced from the Titus Vineyard on Ehlers Lane. All free run wine aged in all new French oak for 22 months; the Family Estate Reserve is a selection of the best barrels. 14.5% alc.

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