Feature Winery: Nickel & Nickel
I was asked by a customer of ours the other what my favorite Cabernet is. That’s a hard decision to make, especially when you are staring at a wall of such deliciousness. But after some thought I responded, “I don’t have a favorite single Cabernet, but overall I appreciate the Nickel & Nickel cabs the most.” To me, Nickel & Nickel represents California winemaking at its best representing the true structure of the varietal and illustrating how much terrior can change a wine.
Nickel & Nickel was founded by the partners of Far Niente in 1997 (what we call a sister label), with a task to produce 100% varietal wines from single vineyards across Napa Valley. President and winemaker, Darice Spinelli, explains how N&N selects their vineyards…”We’re not just seeking out any vineyards. Every aspect of each vineyard must be top-notch, including the soil and the climate, but we also want to know the site is proven ground. We look at who the neighbors are, who is the vineyard manager, and will that grower be willing to do whatever it takes to make the best of the vineyard.”
The top notch vineyards that N&N has selected spans six sub-appellations of Napa Valley for Cabernet. They also produce Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Syrah from vineyards in Napa and Sonoma counties. Nickel plans to continue their growth into over 25 single varietal and vineyard wines. Here’s an overview of the Cabernet Vineyards that we rotate in the store.
Oakville, Napa Valley
- John C. Sullenger Vineyard: The home vineyard of Nickel & Nickel, situated behind the winery. Deep, sedimentary soil leads to black fruit flavors with a balance of velvet and chewiness in the body.
- Tench Vineyard: Red, rock soil of clay and volcanic rock. Grapes in this vineyard rapidly develop color and flavor right before harvest. Dark berry flavors with a hint of blueberry, silky tannins with a toasty oak finish.
- Rock Cairn Vineyard: At the southern edge of Oakville, just east of Highway 29 and north of Yountville. The vineyard is named ‘cairns’ for the piles of rocks left by the Indians during their passage through (rocks were a symbol of the route being safe). Deep gravel with western exposure, concentrated dark cherry flavors with some earthy notes on the finish.
- Branding Iron Vineyard: Located in western Oakville, close to the Mayacamas Mountains, the area has a relatively warm growing climate that is perfect for slow ripening the fruit. Bright and ripe cherry flavors. Juicy and soft.
- Kelham Vineyard: Located at the base of the western hills, well drained clay with a perfect canopy allowing ideal growing conditions for the grapes. Ripe, jammy blackberry and cassis flavors with a long, concentrated and weighty finish.
Stag’s Leap District, Napa Valley
- Copper Streak Vineyard: Located in a protective area at the base of the palisades, gravel mixed with red (copper like) streaks. Dark fruit flavors with hints of earth and tea, very indicative of this area of Stags Leap.
St. Helena, Napa Valley
- Dragonfly Vineyard: One of the most, and hard to find, located at the base of Spring Mountain in St. Helena the Dragonfly Vineyard is located in the “Banana belt” area named for its ideal microclimate of summer temperatures. Deep gravel soils lead to flavors of red fruit, wild strawberry and floral notes.
Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
- Vogt Vineyard: High, shallow rocky vineyard atop Howell Mountain on the northeast edge of Napa. Typical, distinctive fruit of Howell Mountain.
Rutherford, Napa Valley
- C.C. Ranch: Located in Rutherford, just west of the Silverado Trail gravel soils lead to dark cherry flavors with the signature “Rutherford dust.”
Yountville, Napa Valley
- State Ranch: My personal, new favorite 2007 is just the second vintage of State Ranch. Located just northeast of Yountville, the vineyard is made of rock, loam soil. Flavors of dark cherry, this juicy wine is soft with a long, luscious finish.
But how do you choose between them all? I say, you don’t. I think the best wine tasting party is tasting a few of the Nickels side by side. It is the best way to understand the true intent of Nickel & Nickel and the strong differences that lie in the soils and areas of Napa Valley.
Exclusive for blog readers, use code “NICKEL” on any purchase of 6 bottles of more Nickel & Nickel Cabernets this month and the price for each is only $70/bottle (regularly $90, savings of 22%!)