Thursday, September 25, 2008

Titus Maximus

This week's first Wine.woot offering was the Titus 2004 Lot 1 (Napa Valley), a blend of 65% Petite Sirah (of course), 30% Petit Verdot, 5% Zinfandel. It was aged 22 months, 60% new barrels, 50% French and 50% American oak. It is 14.5% alcohol. Wine.woot was the last place you can get this, and in addition to the "labrat" sample bottle I got, I have 3 on the way. The winery produces this as a limited allocation for its wine club/mailing list and it is now completely sold out. Sorry to tease you, folks!

This wine should easily last for 15 years; I don't expect it to have the typical PS dumb period, due to the extensive blending, and the vinting (see below). However, if you were lucky enough to buy it, hold onto it for at least another year before opening -- and don't be afraid to use your decanter.
Petite Sirah has inherently powerful tannins and is more acidic than other red varietals. It can only benefit from extended aging because of this. Depending on the winemaking style and/or growing season this may be the necessary amount of time needed to have the tannins and acid come into balance with all the other parts of the wine. Because the tannins are so massive, Eric and Phillip [Titus] have slightly departed from perhaps the traditional way of making Petite Sirah by removing the juice from the skins earlier than "normal," before fermentation is complete. It's kind of a less is more approach so that the fruit can shine through more and the finish gets some extra length and complexity. It's the Titus version of finessing this varietal.
I had this wine with my friend Chris last night, and we were both very, very impressed. While Wine.woot offers a serious discount from retail and often even wine club prices, and subsidized shipping, this was still a pricy bottle at

45 mins in decanter. Nose: predominantly black raspberry liqueur, with white flowers, hints of molasses, vanilla, and nutmeg, and some sort of underlying meatyness. Very dense and extracted. No heat. AMAZINGLY dense color -- more impenetrable than the Ursa. Incredibly structured, initiall hint of confectionary, then some smoky meat.

This wine frakking COATS THE GLASS. Legs nicer than Tricia Helfer's. I don't know if I've ever seen legs like this in a wine before.

The tannins are very noticeable, but they're very integrated and chewy, not stand-alone liquid sandpaper. This is very elegant and well structured, with particularly distinct transitions between attack, mid-palate, and finish.

65 mins: the nose is jammier, more liqueur, more blackberry than raspberry at this point. White pepper and black pepper on the finish balancing the nutmeg and molasses, with hints of baking spice. This is getting more complex and continuing to open up.

90 mins: The finish turns to black cherry; on the nose and front-end, that 5% zin is really punching above its weight and making itself known, at least for a bit.

105 mins: Here come the tannins -- it took them a while to wake up, but they're making their presence felt.

This is a massive, elegant, integrated wine. It will pair wonderfully with things with a hint of sweetness like bbq ribs or burgers or brisket. I would give this at least 2 more years; it isn't quite ready yet. Though it got very well integrated, and is excellent, it will only get better.

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