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.
Cheers to a fantastic 2014 harvest! We started harvesting fruit at the beginning of September, building to a crescendo that ended on October 14th – the majority of the fruit came in that last two-and-a-half weeks. Overall, we experienced ideal conditions for harvest save for some rain towards the last week of September, which only softened tannins in our Oakville, Yountville and hillside wines.
Left: Truchard Vineyard Chardonnay from our annual Blessing of the Grapes
Right: Beautiful Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon fruit
The vintage perfectly encapsulates our single-vineyard winemaking philosophy with the distinctive vineyard expressions evident in the wines. Winemaker Darice Spinelli notes that the vineyard expression is “very pronounced” this year with our Cabernets, ranging from elegant wines graced with soft tannins to bold, more powerful and robust expressions. You can, however, expect the typical red and dark berry fruits characteristic of each vineyard.
We’re also very excited for the development of our 2014 Nickel & Nickel Chardonnays. The wines are filling our fermentation barns with gorgeous aromatics and are already offering beautiful, forward fruit flavors with great balance. We can’t wait to share this vintage with you.
The Nickel & Nickel team
While much of the country may be pulling on stylish boots and bundling up in sweaters, we’re in summer redux here in Napa Valley. Predicted highs of 99 degrees coincided with Saturday’s harvest party, which meant we saw a lot of summer outfits. Who’s to judge if white is worn after Labor Day? Not we—though do be careful around the Cabernet.
Dan Martin and the Noma Rocksteady Band played while guests mingled sampling pizzas hot from the wood-burning oven and passed hors d’oeuvres. We took guests on behind-the-scenes tours, showing them everything from processing fruit that came in that morning to rehydrating yeast, punch downs and tasting wines that were partway through fermentation.
And there was wine, of course! We poured current release bottles, plus a few treats from the cellar.
2012 Stiling Vineyard Chardonnay
2012 Suscol Ranch Merlot
2011 C.C. Ranch Cabernet
2011 State Ranch Cabernet
2009 Copper Streak Vineyard Cabernet
2006 Witz End Vineyard Cabernet
2006 Dyer Vineyard Syrah
Did you join us? Which wine was your favorite?
Check out the rest of the photos from the day on our Facebook page.
Today with our first bins of Truchard Vineyard Chardonnay we kicked off Harvest 2014! This vineyard, located in the Carneros region of Napa Valley, benefits from cool, often foggy, mornings and evenings, and sunny days. Winemaker Darice Spinelli says they are picking the west-facing hillsides first, which get the full benefit of the afternoon sun, and crews will continue to harvest over a period of several days (perhaps weeks) as different areas of the vineyard ripen fully.
As with each start to harvest, the team at Nickel & Nickel gathered for a blessing from Father Charles (from the nearby Carmelite monastery) and a toast. Join us in wishing for a safe, successful Harvest 2014!
For a few more photos, visit our Facebook page.