Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More 2007 cabernets from Nickel & Nickel

Earlier this spring I tasted a quartet of 2007s from Nickel & Nickel (the old red barn above), and when I visited the estate some weeks ago, I retasted a few of them and four more. It seems like the 2007 vintage suited Nickel & Nickel very well, and their ambition to show the diversity of Napa Valley shows clearly when one lines up the wines from various vineyard the samt vintage.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon CC Ranch / 91 p
The CC Ranch sits on a gentle rolling knoll next to Silverado Trail and Oakville Crossroads, not far away from the Frog’s Leap Winery. Of the 46.50 hectares, Nickel & Nickel farms 6.10 hectares, all planted to Cabernet Sauvignon in a weathered gravelly soil. The resulting wine is elegant with a bit more reddish fruitiness with nuances towards sweet cherries, but also darker notes like black currants. At this young stage, there’s also a slightly sweetish vanilla note from the oak, and a roasted touch as well. On the palate, it’s the overall balance that’s impressive, tannins are fine and well integrated in the quite intense fruit forward body, and compared to most of the Nickel & Nickel bottling, this one is most approachable already when young. However, it will develop with age, and it benefits from decanting.
Drink it 2012-2022

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Regusci Vineyard / 90 p
I have had the wines from Regusci Estate on several occasion, without ever been impressed by them. They seem to be a bit rustic, earthy and sweetish at the same time, with little distinction. I guess it’s due to their winemaking – their vineyards shouldn’t be too bad, it’s close to well known wineries such as Shafer Vineyards and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars – who makes some very fine wines. Also, the Regusci vineyard team also farms for other wineries, among them the Darioush further south on Silverado Trail, so I guess they are well respected.
This was the first time I tasted the Regusci bottling from Nickel & Nickel, and I felt some relations to my impressions of the estate bottling, yet so much better. However, it doesn’t have the same purity and aromatics as the rest of the line up from Nickel & Nickel, although the equally red and black fruit is quite fresh, but with some air, a lovely note of raspberries was revealed. On the palate, it’s quite silky, fresh and elegant, with fine tannins, some cedar notes and earthy qualities, and although it’s a bit lighter than the rest of the wines, it lingers for a while. It quite good, absolutely drinkable, but I don’t think it will evolve as good as the other wines in the lineup.
Drink it 2011-2021

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Vogt Vineyard / 93 p
If you like firm, classic wines with serious structure, this is it! Over the years, I have always been a fan of the selection from Vogt Vineyard, a 5.65 hectare vineyard at 480-550 meters above sea level on top of Howell Mountain. In the poor, well drained and stony volcanic soil, the vines suffers and gives only low yields of small bunches with small, thick skinned grapes, which produces a dark wine with huge structure and intense fruit flavors. Of all wines, this is the wine that needs more aeration, at least 30 minutes in the decanter is recommended.
The nose is intense, deeply concentrated, yet a bit shy – it offers just the most elegant of its dense black fruit qualities, and you can tell they are born in a poor soil – there’s a super complex aroma of something reminiscent of gravelly and volcanic dust. I love that part of it. On the palate, you’ll get the first sweet kiss of the immensely concentrated fruit, but there’s no real sweetness whatsoever – it’s just an impression due to the fact the grapes were ripe, small and full of flavors when harvested. A second later, the tannins and lively minerality takes over, and that’s what together with the fruit aromas lingers for a minute or so.
Even though it’s not charming at all, I find this style very appealing. Give the wine some more years, and it will taste more elegant, as the tannins slowly start to polymerize and soften.
Drink it 2014-2025
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Witz End Vineyard / 92-93 p
Since the owners of the vineyard have started to make their own wine, this was the last vintage from Nickel & Nickel of this wine. Sadly, I have to say – this Rutherford wine is a classic styled wine, dark fruit scented with notes of blackberries, cassis, complex nuances of cedar tree, medium bodied with a very fine tannic structure, some mineral notes, a good towards lively acidity and a very complex, long and elegant aftertaste. It’s still young and a bit closed, but I noticed that it opened up in a very positive way during the tasting, to show a seductive note of wild raspberries to complement the darker berries first noted. As in all wines from Nickel & Nickel, the oak is very well integrated, and even though the wine is still very young, tannins are firm but perfectly ripe, therefore in full balance. It’s in all aspects a textbook Napa Valley wine, that show just how well concentration, finesse and terroir makes a good match here in the valley.
The vineyard itself is 2.25 hectares, located on a gentle slope with well drained gravelly clay soil in the southwestern end of Rutherford. Dirk Hampson told me once the grapes from this vineyard are very small, but with a great intense. Given the fact the vines were planted in 2001, it’s an impressive wine!
Drink it 2012-2027

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