2011 Lithos Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $11.99 (currently $9.99)
Salem, OR April 11, 2014
I 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.