Friday, November 11, 2011

Wine Tasting and Shopping Can be Expensive

Nickel & Nickel is a beautiful ranch-like winery

One of the dangers of wine tasting is that you might end up shopping while you are tasting.  When the incredible half case of  Nickel & Nickel Cabernet arrived, I remembered what a great time we had visiting the vineyard and how elegant the wine tasting was (bread sticks, cheese and all), but I sure didn't remember ordering the cabs!  Turns out it was simply the October shipment of  "Club Cabernet," two bottles of three outstanding single vineyard cabs from Nickel & Nickel.
As we sat in the dining room of the historic John C. Sullenger House at the Nickel & Nickel winery, the personalized tasting menu was a testament to the winery's attention to detail.  2007 versions of the CC Ranch, Copper Streak, Martin Stelling and Vogt Vineyard Cabernet were served along with various gourmet cheese selections,  Italian Cow's Milk, Extra Aged Gouda and a smooth Bohemian Goat Cheese. Nickel & Nickel, founded by the partners of Far Niete to create nothing but single vineyard wines, offers some of the most captivating cabs in a most memorable setting. The generous tasting leads to a gregarious group at the table.

From the recent shipment, so far I've tried only the 2008 State Ranch, a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from a 23 acre Yountville vineyard. I'm going to cellar the second bottle for at least another year, as it can only get better, but the first bottle provided vibrant flavors, including berry and cherry.  As the wine maker's notes suggest, "The vintage's tannins are so supple and fine that they are quite polished." After about 30 minutes in the decanter on the table of Maestro's Newport Coast, the wine was silky smooth, getting rave reactions, well deserved, from the three wine drinkers who were enjoying this lovely selection that I had carried in.

The nice folks at Maestro's waived the $25 per bottle corkage fee. Why?  When you bring in great wines and allow the wine steward to do the tasting after decanting, they appreciate that. In this case, the mission was to determine whether we should drink the Kelham 2001 Cabernet first, or the 2008 State Ranch from Nickel & Nickel.  Conclusion - The Kelham was ready (and unbelievable); the State Ranch Cab needed some heavy breathing.  It was ultimately, superb.

Next week - I'll finally get to write about our amazing discovery in historic Healdsburg - up in beautiful Sonoma County.

Wine and Food Pairing of the Week:  Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 and a nice lean filet mignon from Morton's Steakhouse.  It's a splurge, but the Duckhorn Cab is an intense and flavorful wine, very impressive and only gets better with age, but who can wait?  As for the filet mignon, Morton's does it right. Not too fatty, lean and flavorful. My wife likes the petite version.  You can find the Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 well priced at Bevmo and from our friends at

Value Wine of the Week:  Acacia Carneros Chardonnay 2009.  This on target Chardonnay is a great deal - often under $15.  It's crisp - not too much oak and you can taste peach and apple overtones. Refreshing and always well priced at Bevmo and from our friends at

What I’m listening to on the crowded LA Freeways:  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  Sorry if you saw the movie.  It was terrible.  The book - and the audio rendition - is fantastic.

If you drive a lot, or if reading just wears you out, you have to try Audible. I am thoroughly addicted to the Audible downloads program. Check out the amazing introductory offer from our friends at that you can access from this page. I’m personally cranking through a book each week.

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