2019 Titus Vineyards Cabernet Franc, A Big Winner at the International Cabernet Franc Competition and Celebration
At the April 2022 International Cabernet Franc Blind Wine Competition and Celebration held in Copperopolis, California, 2019 Titus Vineyards Cabernet Franc won several awards. This was their first time entering the competition. Two sets of judges presided over the tasting, one being the Professional Judges and the other being People’s Choice Judges. The Professional Judge’s for category 3 ($51 to $75) , awarded a Gold Medal and Best of Class to the 2019 Titus Vineyards Cabernet Franc. This was the only wine in this prestigious category to receive a Gold Medal from the Professional Judges. The People’s Choice Judges awarded it a Silver medal
The winery is run by Eric Titus and Phillip Titus, which they took over from their father. Both brothers spent their youth and summers working around “the farm” which sold the grapes to various local wineries. Eric went off to pursue his degree (and PhD) in Biology focusing on marine science and toxicology. He continued this work through the 1990’s. He returned to the winery full time in 2002 to help with the management of the family’s flourishing business. Today he is the General Manager and Vineyard Operation Manager of the winery. With his background, he has adopted both green practices and sustainable farming of the property. Eric has served as President of Napa Valley Grape Growers Association, St. Helena Viticultural Society and promoting the St. Helena Appellation.
Phillip studied agronomy, viticulture and enology at the University of California at Davis. He also traveled extensively, getting an appreciation of many wine areas including Bordeaux. Phillip began his career working at Quail Ridge Winery, Stratford and Chappellet. In 1990 he was named Winemaker at Chappellet and continues to make the wines there today. That same year he also became Winemaker at Titus Vineyards. It was on the Titus Ranch Estate, some 40 acres, with 34 planted in 14 separate parcels/vineyard blocks with varying soils and clones that provided the background for Phillip to understand the difference and unique characteristics of each. His goal was to showcase the highest quality of fruit from each lot to make distinct Titus Vineyard wines.
Again, fast forwarding to 2015 when the new production facility was constructed, they hired Stephen Cruzan. Stephen a graduate from North Carolina State in biochemistry, was gearing up for a life in research. While working at a restaurant, he met with a winemaker from California. He decided to combine his enjoyment of fine wine and his technical degree to making wine. He started at Kathyrn Hall in the lab, then harvests at Sacred Hill in New Zealand, Domain d’ Ardhui in Burgundy and Clemens Busch in Germany’s Mosel River Valley. In 2009 he joined the team at Chappellet under Phillip Titus and worked his way up the ladder to Enologist and thru Phillip met Eric. Later he went to Cade Winery as the Assistant Winemaker. His focus was on the differentiation of wine barrels completing the end desired result.
The totality of the three as a biologist focused on ecology/sustainability, an enologist focused on the unique characteristics of each vineyard block (14 on the estate and 3 at their Ehlers Lane Vineyard) and a well-traveled winemaker with a keen focus of barrel selection, Titus was well positioned to launch even further in the wine business from 2015 on. Currently some of my favorite wines from Titus are their 2019 Zinfandel, 2019 Titus Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and of course the 2019 Cabernet Franc.
On the eyes a radiant crimson with purple hues and medium-heavy viscosity. On the nose, aromas of cranberry, strawberries and majestic violets rise up to greet you. On the palate, black cherry is the predominate taste in the mouth. Secondary flavors of soft leather, black tea and vanilla are discernable. The finish is extremely soft and enjoyable with rounded tannins with enough structure to make you desire another sip. The wine received a score from AG of 94 points and sells for $62/bottle. The wine was aged in 65% new French oak for 20 months. It is 86% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Malbec.
The Food and Wine Pairing
Paired with a seared (650 degrees) BBQ ribeye steak served medium rare and extremely juicy. Accompanied with a Yukon baked potato and fresh garden salad. A delightfully integrated meal with the capstone of the 2019 Titus Vineyards Cabernet Franc wine!
Titus Vineyards was pleased they entered this competition, and I can hardly wait for their next vintage Cabernet Franc!!