Monday, October 09, 2006

Nickel & Nickel with Tom Gilhooly

Recently I have had the pleasure (twice) of tasting wine with Tom Gilhooly from Nickel & Nickel. We were concentrating on the newly released 2003 Cabernet Sauvignons from N&N. 2003 has been reported as a somewhat difficult vintage for many producers in Napa, but I do not think that these wines really reflected any vintage “issues”. In fact, I believe they are some of the finest produced by the winery, to date (at least of what I have tasted, which is most of the selections since the winery’s inception).

Nickel & Nickel specializes in single varietal / single vineyard productions. Each of the wines we reviewed were from one specific vineyard in Napa. The motivation for this style of production is to show the differences in the terroir of the Napa Valley. With one of the most complex geological and climatic combinations of any wine region in the world, Napa can produce wines of almost limitless variation, even within a single varietal.

Depending on your business (on- or off-premise), having multiple selections of N&N wines can be a tremendous asset and selling opportunity. Because these wines are each distinct – they can be sold against each other (on-premise) or as a group (off-premise), allowing customers to discover how soil and climate can dramatically change the style of a grape even when produced nearly identical to another wine.

If you are a consumer, tasting these wines and comparing them against each other can be quite an exercise in terroir analysis. Quite a pleasurable one, I might add!

from 9-22-06

2003, Cabernet Sauvignon Sullenger Vineyard (Oakville)

  • 40-45% New French Oak, 14-18 month
  • very dark, more black than purple
  • licorice and cherry-cola aromatics
  • very rich on the palate - big style
  • loads of spice and deep fruit flavors
  • great length with dry, ripe tannins
  • (2++)

2003, Cabernet Sauvignon Rock Cairn Vineyard (Oakville)

  • red/black color
  • big raspberry, cherry aromatics with some spice undertones - some cedar and vanilla
  • smooth with dusty feel on the palate - big, juicy flavors
  • dryer than Sullenger - very big style
  • (2+)

2003, Cabernet Sauvignon Vogt Vineyard (Howell Mountain)

  • really black with red rim
  • super-huge nose - blackberry, plum and cassis
  • really smooth and mouthfilling, huge elegant really, really good Cab taste
  • finish goes on forever with some smooth juicy tannins
  • this one will last for a number of years
  • (3)

from 9-6-06

2003, Cabernet Sauvignon Carpenter Vineyard (Napa)

  • coolest climate vineyard
  • a bit tight
  • (1+)

2003, Cabernet Sauvignon Dragon Fly Vineyard (St. Helena)

  • warmest vineyard
  • smooth and juicy wine
  • very pronounced
  • (2)

2003, Cabernet Sauvignon Tench Vineyard (Oakville)

  • very big and expressive
  • rich on the palate
  • (2+)

2003, Cabernet Sauvignon Branding Iron (Oakville)

  • perhaps the finest of the group
  • extremely smooth, ripe flavors
  • great length
  • (2++)

2003, Cabernet Sauvignon Sullenger Vineyard (Oakville)

  • Valley floor
  • smooth
  • dusty tannins
  • (2)

2003, Cabernet Sauvignon Stelling Vineyard (Oakville)

  • big an dround, but with structure
  • very good
  • (2++)

2003, Cabernet Sauvignon Rock Cairn Vineyard (Oakville)

  • Big and juicy
  • smoother than most of the others
  • inkier flavors and color
  • (2+)

2003, Cabernet Sauvignon Vogt Vineyard (Howell Mtn)

  • deepest color
  • very inky flavors
  • chewy tannins
  • long life - most agable of the bunch
  • (2++)

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