For Nickel & Nickel Winemaker Darice Spinelli, Chardonnay is her hot weather go-to, “although with Chardonnay, I often find I’ve enjoyed my wine before a plate of food hits the table.”
On summer Friday nights, Darice loves to invite friends to join her around the fire pit for wine and super-simple small plates. “Anything too long or complicated isn’t going to happen.” Time is a precious commodity for Darice. Her days in the vineyard often start before sunrise (and end after office hours). She’s also Mom to two energetic boys, which means that arriving home, getting dinner on the table for the kids, then prepping an elaborate meal for her guests, well, “there simply aren’t enough hours in a day. Especially because I actually want to be present and enjoy the company of my family and my friends.”
To ensure she spends more time fireside than she does in the kitchen, Chef Trevor Eliason offers his suggestions for easy 30-minute (or less) appetizers that pair beautifully with Nickel & Nickel’s Single Vineyard Chardonnays from the Russian River and Napa Valleys.
Easy 30-Minute Appetizers
Burrata and Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta + Nickel & Nickel Stiling Vineyard Chardonnay. Whether you daydream about classic Brandywines, geek out over tangy Northern Lights or prize the hearty Cherokee purple as the perfect slicing tomato, tomato season is hitting its stride, making it the ideal time to indulge your heirloom obsessions. We love to toss just-picked varieties with olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper. We let the flavors marry for half an hour before spooning fragrant, “sweating” heaps of them over creamy burrata on toasted baguette. Top with fresh basil.
Prosciutto-wrapped Marinated Galia Melon + Nickel & Nickel Medina Vineyard Chardonnay. Exactly what should you use as a marinade? There are a variety of options, however, Chef Trevor favors simplicity, with nice olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. “Just a hint of fennel pollen really elevates it, but isn’t required,” he says.
Smoked Salmon Rillettes + Nickel & Nickel Truchard Vineyard Chardonnay. Technically, this takes longer than 30 minutes, but the fragrant smoky-fish and butter flavors of really good salmon rillettes are the ultimate Friday night showstopper, especially when paired alongside whites on the creamier, more textured side. The good news, one of our favorite versions, here, can be prepared up to three days in advance.
Drink some wine. Talk with friends. Throw some fresh summer corn on the grill, which, BTW, always tastes great with all three of our Nickel & Nickel Chardonnays. Discover more recipes that pair beautifully with our Single-Vineyard Whites, and make this your #BestChardonnay summer ever.
Is Napa Valley in your future? We hope you’ll add Nickel & Nickel to your itinerary. Here’s what you need to know about your visit:
With all the wonderful weather we’ve been enjoying, the high season seems to have already begun this year. We highly recommend early planning for all your Napa Valley destinations, from lodging to winery visits and dining.
Like many wineries, Nickel & Nickel is by appointment only, and we recommend booking your appointment as soon as your plans solidify. As the season gets underway, we often schedule visits 6 weeks out and holiday weekends fill quickly.
Schedule Your Visit
So you’ve got some dates in mind? Check out our visit page for information on tours and tastings at Nickel & Nickel. From there, you can book your appointment online at the “Make a Reservation” link, or give us a call at (707) 967-9600 and we’ll set you up!
(Special note: Wine club members’ tasting fees are waived, up to a party of four.)
Get Ready to Enjoy a Single-Vineyard Experience!
On your Nickel & Nickel visit, you’ll learn about our dedication to single-vineyard wines and how that touches everything we do, from our hospitality in the Sullenger House to the enology lab in the 18th-century Gleason Barn to the fermentation barns. Next, you’ll taste through a selection of our Napa Valley single-vineyard Cabernets—a true tour of Napa Valley geography and geology!
We look forward to greeting you soon at the winery. Another way to connect with us is through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
The March Single Vineyard Club shipments will be making their way to your doorsteps this week! This month’s shipment brochure features a flavor-rich Basil-Coconut Soup recipe crafted to pair with your bottle of 2013 Nickel & Nickel Stiling Vineyard Chardonnay. The vibrant acidity of this stunning Russian River Valley Chardonnay is the perfect accompaniment to this decadent soup.
To view this recipe on our website and download, click here.
3 cups leeks (white part only), diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 cups lobster or chicken broth
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 cans coconut milk
½ cup basil leaves, loosely packed (reserve portion for basil chiffonade)
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
4 skewers, 8-10 inches long
2 1 ½-pound lobsters
Japanese seven spice (shichimi togorashi), to taste
Fresh lime juice, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste
In a large sauce pot on medium-low heat, cook the leeks in olive oil and season with salt and pepper, stirring occasionally. After seven minutes, add garlic and cook for another three minutes. Pour in the lobster or chicken broth and the potatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook the potatoes until they are fork-tender. Add the coconut milk and return to a simmer. Working in two batches, transfer the mixture to the blender and purée for about 30 seconds, gradually adding the basil leaves and a teaspoon of salt. Do not run the blender too long, as it will make the soup gluey. Once all the soup has been puréed, add the lime and lemon juices. Place back into the soup pot and keep warm on low heat.
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Start by shelling the lobster tails and cut them in half lengthwise. Be sure to remove any brown remnants and reserve the knuckle and claw meat. Cut each side in three square-shaped pieces.
Start your skewer with two pieces of knuckle meat, three pieces of tail meat and finish with one claw at the end. Season the skewered lobster to taste with the Japanese spice mix and salt. Oil the grill, and then grill the lobster skewers for two minutes on each side. Finish with fresh lime juice and a pinch of salt. Keep warm.
Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Clean the kale and discard the tough stem. Cut into large triangular pieces, and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and two pinches of salt. Mix well to evenly coat, then lay the leaves in a single layer on a baking pan. Bake for four to seven minutes (depending on your oven), until the leaves appear crisp, but not browned. Set aside and let cool.
Portion the soup into four bowls. Drop in any remaining lobster in the center of the soup, then place the skewered lobster across the bowl. Tuck four pieces of crispy kale into the soup, stem-side down, then garnish with a small amount of basil chiffonade.
Have you tried any of our Nickel & Nickel recipes? We’d love to hear how it turned out. Drop us a line on our Facebook, Twitter (@nickelandnickel), Instagram (@nickelandnickelwinery) or good ol’ fashioned email.
We’re a few days shy of the official start to spring, but don’t tell the flowers, trees and birds at Nickel & Nickel. Everything is budding, blooming, and singing, and even the vineyard is getting in on the action. Viticulturist Aaron Fishleder says bud break is just getting underway in our home vineyard, John C. Sullenger Vineyard.
Early this week, foggy mornings dusted everything with fine water droplets, giving everything an extra sparkle when the sun emerged. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, we got a few sprinkles of light rain which dusted everything off and gave the air that fresh, “just rained” smell.
In the cellar, winemaker Darice Spinelli and her team are working hard to put the final touches on the 2013 vintage. We’ll begin bottling our Single-Vineyard Cabernet (15 wines in this vintage!), Merlot and Syrah on April 20.
But that’s not all! Darice is also getting ready to showcase the 2014 Cabernets at our annual Futures tasting in May. For those of you who have joined us for this annual opportunity to taste and acquire Cabernets from our most recent vintage, you know what a treat it is to experience these young wines, which even in their youth, exemplify their vineyard sites. We hope you will join us this year!
Thanks to all who attended our Nickel & Nickel Winter Open House last weekend! The fantastic crowd definitely kept things lively under overcast skies. The Napa Valley was drenched this past week with much needed rain, but the water-laden clouds spared us for the day and we entertained a full house. While Nickel & Nickel staff graciously poured our single-vineyard wines in our Fermentation Barns, Chef Trevor Eliason replenished the tables in the lounge area with cheese and charcuterie to keep palates interesting.
Chef Trevor has provided us with suggestions for compiling your own spreads for a lovely cheese, charcuterie and wine experience at home. Keep in mind – everyone’s tastes are different, and the fun is in discovering how the food interacts with the wine on your palate.
Age Matters: Go for aged cheeses with wonderfully concentrated flavors. At Open House, we served the Beemster Gouda, aged 18 months and 24 months.
Waxed vs. Washed: We typically recommend a waxed-rind cheese for wine pairing purposes – washed-rind cheese tends to be too ripe.
Salt Content: Look for something not too salty, so as to not interfere with the flavors of the wine. A good, balanced cheese we like to serve at events is Highway-1.
Cow, Sheep, Goat?: Local cow and sheep cheese is safe bet when attempting to pair with wine; goat cheese is not always wine-friendly. However, there are exceptions to the rule – we do offer Cypress Grove Midnight Moon Chèvre with Nickel & Nickel wines.
Texture: We select thinly sliced meats instead of sausages, terrines and rillettes – think Proscuitto or Bresaola. This form of charcuterie offers a nice melt-in-your-mouth texture that is fantastic with wine.
Salty or Spicy?: Salty, fatty charcuterie goes great with our Nickel & Nickel Cabernets. Hot and spicy meats are not the best complement to our wines, but if you’re looking for something with a little bite, try a Mortadella with peppercorns.
Befriend the Butcher: It’s always great to support your local businesses. If you’re looking for charcuterie, chat with your butcher and ask if you can taste a selection of meats before you purchase. Try a combination of three different meats, like beef, pork and duck, and see what jumps out at you.