With 2012 coming to a quick conclusion, we sat down with Winemaker Darice Spinelli for a year-end wrap-up. As you will see, harvest 2012 is still a vivid memory.
What stands out for you about 2012?
Definitely the abundance of this vintage—that was phenomenal. We were up 31% from what I was expecting, and we were up by 73% over last year’s yields. And the quality appears to be exceptional.
Were there any changes or enhancements brought to the winemaking process this year?
For the last two harvests, we have used the optical sorter. This machine allows us to identify color as a tool to remove anything that is undesirable. In our case, we were removing things that were green and brown (stems, leaves, shot berries) and keeping anything purple. We had a team hand sorting, too, but the optical sorter almost doubled our ability to process the grapes. Our ability to work faster is exactly what we needed given the tonnage from the 2012 harvest . That’s how we were able to keep our quality high.
View our optical sorter in action in this recent harvest video.
What characteristics are you seeing in the 2012 wines?
The wines are very well balanced. They’re still going through fermentation and still changing at this point, but they have really nice structure, great fruit flavors, incredible color and nice aromas, so it’s looking like it will be a great year. The vineyard characteristics are really showing through.
Is there anything else that stands out for you about 2012? Anything you’re looking forward to in 2013?
I’ve been thinking about harvest for the last few months, but earlier in the year we bottled our 2010 Cabernets. [Mark your calendars for the official release on August 10, 2013.] Again, these are good, solid wines. We just tasted through our spring releases—also really balanced wines. These Chardonnays, Merlots and Syrahs taste wonderful at this early age, so it will be exciting to show everybody these wines in 2013. We also have a new Chardonnay coming out next year from Stiling Vineyard that we bottled this last year. It has a beautiful minerality that can’t be beat.
Our annual Futures event is something we always look forward to. This year we’ll taste the 2012 Cabernets, and you’ll have the opportunity to purchase these wines at current release prices. It’s a fun, popular event and I guarantee that you will enjoy this vintage.
Wishing you and yours a very happy New Year! See you in 2013.
You may be familiar with our home vineyard, the John C. Sullenger Vineyard, and we hope you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy our Cabernet Sauvignon from this Oakville vineyard. But you may not know what it is, exactly, about this vineyard that sets it apart from other vineyards in our collection.
By location alone, Sullenger is distinct from other Nickel & Nickel vineyards. “Sullenger is positioned in the center of the Napa Valley, whereas most other Nickel & Nickel vineyards are on the eastern or western sides of the valley,” says Viticulturist Aaron Fishleder. This site on the valley floor offers plenty of sunlight and uniform soils that promote consistent vine growth.
Sullenger is also the vineyard that has shown the biggest changes since we began farming it. When we purchased the property in 1998, the vines were big and leafy, shading the clusters. With careful pruning, canopy management, drainage and replanting over the years with the optimal combination of clones and rootstock, Sullenger has really come into its own and is producing fruit at a very high level.
Because of the vineyard’s location and soil type, we don’t irrigate this vineyard much, which promotes moderate vine growth, giving John C. Sullenger Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon that great, concentrated flavor we know so well.
Take a look at our recent harvest video, which compares Sullenger Vineyard with the hillside Quarry Vineyard in Rutherford.
The 2009 Nickel & Nickel John C. Sullenger Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is extremely limited this year and will sell out soon. Click here to acquire the last of this vintage.
And click here for the previous post about the John C. Sullenger Vineyard, which includes an aerial photograph of the vineyard site.
Across Napa Valley, vintners are breathing a sigh of relief and planning well-deserved vacations. The grapes are in, and not only that–the harvested fruit is spectacular. Each year, Winemaker Darice Spinelli and her team take on not only what Mother Nature sends their way, they tackle a number of vineyards (21 this year!) and the unique challenges presented by each. With a beautiful growing season, near ideal ripening and rain that held off until the latter part of October, the Nickel & Nickel team has a lot to be thankful for.
We’re looking forward to tasting this vintage as expressed through each of the our single-vineyard wines made this year. And guess what? You will have the opportunity to do just that at our annual Cabernet Futures event in spring 2013. In December we will announce the date for this fantastic event. We look forward to sharing the vintage with you!
Last Saturday we had our first-ever Harvest Party for our wine club members here at Nickel & Nickel, and I must say—in the spirit of the season—it was a home run event!
One of the best things about our events is the opportunity to meet so many great people. We love getting the chance to talk with the folks who support us and enjoy our wines. It’s so rewarding to hear, “I love this!” from someone trying a wine for the first time, or even their tenth time. It was also so impressive to have so many members visiting from out of state for the party. I talked to members everywhere from Wisconsin to Texas to Florida.
The food was nothing short of amazing. Chef Trevor knocked it out of the park with his mouth-watering lamb sliders right off the grill. All of the tasty bites paired beautifully with a great lineup of older vintages that we poured. And the yummy desserts and Dolce in the Gleason Barn were enough to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth, especially mine.
For entertainment, we had the talented guitar duo Carter & Bodlovich playing some cool Brazilian jazz riffs and Gypsy Swing music throughout the afternoon. The crushpad was loaded up, too, with our harvest crew and some behind-the scenes crush tours. The courtyard was buzzing as our guests milled around the reflection pond and barns, enjoying the gorgeous Indian summer weather. As the sun went down, many were nestled by the glow of the bonfires and beautiful sunset.
This might just be my new favorite wine club event. It was the perfect way to catch up with our club members and toast the 2012 vintage!
Harvest is one of our favorite times in the Napa Valley, and we wanted to share this experience with you, our closest friends. This year we’re inviting you to join us for a harvest celebration, Nickel & Nickel style. We plan to open current wines and aged bottling, kick up our heels to some live music and sample tasty bites from Chef Trevor Eliason. Weather permitting, we will have informal, behind-the-scenes crush tours.
The event will run from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m., so make dinner reservations at one of your favorite nearby restaurants and stop by Nickel & Nickel beforehand for a harvest toast.