Nickel & Nickel Single Vineyard tasting at Sherry-Lehmann on June 10th, 2014.
Bruce Mooers, President of Nickel & Nickel, Far Niente, and EnRoute, presented us with a wonderful selection of these wineries, but as I am always trying to avoid rambling too much, I will focus this post entry on the Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon Single Vineyards.
All the wines were 2010s. Many of you may already know this, but these wines are old school Napa wines that have had a loyal following for many years. Bruce talked about how the 2010 vintage was similar to the 2006s (lots of color, perfume, and extraction). He also spoke on the idea of Nickel & Nickel creating a true sense of place for Cabernet Sauvignon (all the wines being 100% of the varietal) with their Single Vineyard series. This is an interesting idea because Cabernet Sauvignon is such a distinctive variety, usually showing its characteristics in blends made across the world.
I must say, I certainly noticed that these wines were Cabernet Sauvignon first before anything else entered my mind, but after that point there were differences expressed in the wines that gave one a “sense of place”.
I know many factors contribute to the wine’s final characteristics, but this post will just focus on an aspect of the vineyard that Bruce brought to our attention, and what characteristics the wine is showing that is typical of that vineyard.
Quarry Vineyard: In the hills of Rutherford with chalky elements to the soil. This wine had a purity of fruit and noticeable acidity.
Tench Vineyard: Red, rocky soils of clay and volcanic rock. Lighter herbaceous notes of mint and flowers with a more linear body in comparison to the rest of the flight.
Kelham: Partial clay loam soil that is not as heavy as the Sullenger. Restraint on the nose, and deep, dark and dense on the palate.. will make great old bones.
Sullenger: More clay than Kelham. Lower earthy notes with a distinctive tobacco leaf aroma, and lots of firm tannin. Bruce said Sullenger was a property that always produced more traditional Bordeaux-like wines.
Rock Cairn: Deep gravelly loam, across the street from Dominus. Forward red currant flavors and rounder tannins that make the wine accessible right out of the bottle.
It is an interesting idea of a “sense of place” for a single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon. It is not completely transformed as a malleable variety such as Chardonnay (of course wine making plays a large part in its transformation), but it is fascinating to experience wines of a “signature” variety from the same region that had such different expressions while keeping true to itself.