2011 Lithos Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $9.99

2011 Lithos Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $11.99 (currently $9.99)
Salem, OR  April 11, 2014
13.5% ABV

Lithos_CabI purchased this wine back in April, at the spring wine sale. Since it is still on the shelves and this is the first time we’ve had the wine since we tasted it at the store, I decided to do a quick write up on it.

Firstly, as I noted above, back in April it was $11.99 on our shelves.  Now it is $9.99.  There is absolutely no information about this wine online.  The label says: Vinted & Bottled by Lithos Vineyards, Oakville, CA.  It also mentions that it is family owned and “from the heart of Napa Valley”.

I’m a fan of Oakville wines and 2011 was completely bashed by the critics as a “horrible year for Cabernet”.  However, at this point, some reviewers are suggesting that the critics made a mistake, saying that 2011 Napa Cabernet is more like a “rainy year in Bordeaux”.  We’ve personally found some wines that are real gems…wines that I think will age well and deliver for a long time, and we’ve found some real stinkers.  Because it was a cool year and the rains came early, the winemakers had a choice of whether to pick early and have the grapes not completely ripen or pick late and deal with Botrytis bunch rot.  The grapes matured slowly but they did mature.  They weren’t heavy fruit bombs and many of the wines we’ve tried offer so much more depth/structure than the traditional Napa fruit-forward (or “fruit bomb” as some refer to it) heavy wines.  Finally, the best part about 2011 is that because it was so bashed, sometimes you can get very good wine for rock bottom prices. Winemakers moved on as quickly as possible. Enough about 2011 in general…

Back to the Lithos.  We’d originally tasted it at the Salem, G.O.  It had “been open for a few days, but is worth tasting” commented the owner/operator.  So I tasted it and was really surprised. For something that had been sitting on a counter for (minimum) 2 days and not properly stored, there was a nice, smooth, balanced Cab being presented.

Fast forward to last night.  We opened the wine and I decanted it. I still prefer my Cabs after they’ve been open for a while.  An hour after opening, I would not have recognized this wine from the above tasting.  It was very fruit forward, nearly offensively sweet.  But as the evening progressed, it mellowed out considerably.  Initially we tasted a lot of blue and black fruit; as it opened further, a bit of plum & cocoa.  Much later in the evening we were tasting green pepper (but not offensively…and many of you know this is my wine bête noire) and some graphite.  This one needs some time to develop depending on your wine preferences.  If you like it sweet or fruity, don’t decant.  It was an interesting Cab.  More layered than I’m used to seeing at G.O. and with the wine sale coming up, it might be worth checking out; if you like Napa Cabernet and even if you don’t.


7 thoughts on “2011 Lithos Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $9.99

  1. EHL

    Wow……thanks for the technical (AVA specific) info on the Napa 2011’s, PW…….another hard-core gem of info…….

  2. EHL

    Thanks for your detailed and very informative review, PW, not only regarding the wine but the vintage……..will definitely look for it down here during the wine sale!

    1. permiesworld Post author

      Hi EHL,
      If you do try it, be sure and report back what you think.

      And another bit of info on the 2011’s in general…if you buy from the “peaks” (Atlas, Howell Mountain, Diamond Mountain, the Pritchard Hill area, Stags Leap etc) your chances of finding a really nice 2011 are higher. Those appellations stayed above the perpetual fog so it gave the grapes a longer growing season. They had better drainage during the rains and it gave them a better chance to finish ripening without the rot. Lots of those grapes sold in wholesale “Lots” with the condition that they were labeled only as “Napa” so that people wouldn’t know their origin. Many of the odd labeled (unknowns) from that year will have these (among others) grapes in their blends as well.

      FWIW, those have been our favorite areas from that vintage.

      1. lim13

        “Thanks for your detailed and very informative review, PW, not only regarding the wine but the vintage”……..and the AVA’s. I second EHL’s comment, PW. Nice job. And out of curiosity, what did you find the price of most of those “Peak” wines to be?

        1. permiesworld Post author

          If you don’t mind 3rd party labeling, an average of $25/bottle (some less, some more, but no more than $28). During sales, even less. From my summer “buy & holds” that are just now being delivered, got a case of 2011 Stags Leap for $21.50/bottle including shipping that I’m just loving. And some from Atlas Peak that was I believe $20. I’d have to go back and look. A couple of 2012’s (one from Howell Mountain & one from the Pritchard hills non-AVA) both for $24 & $25. So again, I know that’s high for GO but those wines start at $75 and work their way up to $200 a bottle under their own labels.

          I love good wine. I don’t like paying a fortune for it, but when I can find it for a good deal, I’ll buy it.

        2. permiesworld Post author

          My point in bringing up the Napa 2011’s though is that if you happen upon a good deal…it might be a better deal than you think. It might not…but so many of the wineries sold their 2011’s quickly to negociants, or 3rd party dealers. NDA’s etc. 2012’s harvest came in beautifully. So did 2013’s (according to Napa standards) so many sold off 2011 all together. Some just sold the grapes. Some sold well done wine. It was wild. And so uncalled for, IMO. But then again, I’ve been able to stock up and I’m happy about that.


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