Napa Fruit Bomb

Today’s Story: Nickel & Nickel Winery

Nickel & Nickel was established in Oakville, Napa Valley in 1997 by Gil and Beth Nickel. Though Gil was born in Oklahoma and has a background in the nursery business (his family owned Greenleaf Nursery which is one of the largest wholesale nurseries in the country), Gil and Beth moved to Napa Valley in 1976 where they founded Far Niente Winery in 1979. I reviewed a Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon in Historic Napa Cab back on November 11. Not too far from the Far Niente property, the Nickel & Nickel winery is located on an 1880s-era farm established by John C. Sullenger following his purchase of the land in 1865. The grounds are beautiful, with a restored farmhouse and barns (built during the 1880s) set amongst flowers and horse stables. With the intent of producing only single-vineyard 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines, Nickel & Nickel today offers roughly 20 different bottlings from vineyards in Oakville, Yountville, Calistoga, Rutherford, Oak Knoll District, Diamond Mountain District, Stags Leap District, St. Helena, and Howell Mountain. They augmented this portfolio with Chardonnay, Merlot, and Syrah with the Merlot and Syrah bottlings a bit tougher to come by.

Like many premium wineries in Napa, Nickel & Nickel institutes sustainable practices throughout their farming and winemaking processes. Before their considerations in the vineyards themselves, Nickel & Nickel is proud to be a net-zero user of electricity thanks to solar panels, they collect process water from winery operations to irrigate the vineyards, recycle extensively, and replaced company vehicles with hybrid alternatives. In the vineyards, Nickel & Nickel practices organic farming in an effort to preserve the natural tendencies of the soil while getting the best fruit possible from their vines.

Naturally, when a winery offers a wide portfolio of wines from different terroir but of the same variety it can be fun to taste several of these side-by-side. I had the opportunity to taste a couple this way in the past and found it incredibly cool to read about the different soils which you can get a glimpse of here. If you have the opportunity to taste several of these wines together, it is also fun looking at the map of the vast Nickel & Nickel vineyards here.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Branding Iron Cabernet Sauvignon

100% Cabernet Sauvignon; 14.5% ABV

The 2016 Branding Iron is an opaque deep purple/ruby in color. This certainly needs some time to open up, so I recommend decanting the wine. On the nose, I get aromas of blackberry, blueberry, plum, redcurrant, purple florals, wet stone, saturated earth, baking spice, sweet tobacco, chocolate, vanilla, and oak. Once in the mouth, this wine continues the fruit-dominated theme with notes of jammy blackberry, blackcurrant, cherry, pomegranate, green herbs, forest floor, baking spice, and oak. This wine is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, velvety medium tannins, and a long inky finish dominated by dark fruit and baking spice.

Price: $100. Though you can tell the quality is there, I think this is priced too high given that the wine comes off as an inky people-pleaser. Though I would place a hefty bet that the majority of today’s Napa Cab lovers would enjoy this wine, I think the price-point is a deterrent for many. Pair this with steak or a good burger.

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