Nickel & Nickel, Oakville (Napa Valley, California) Cabernet Sauvignon John C. Sullenger Vineyard 2014

($110): Nickel & Nickel and Far Niente overlap in ownership and philosophy, so it’s not surprising that they overlap in making spectacular wines.  Nickel & Nickel focuses on making distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from different vineyards in Napa Valley.  Although their entire line-up is excellent, what is really impressive is how different the wines are despite similar wine making.  That wines from different vineyards should taste different shouldn’t be all that amazing.  After all, the French have focused on — and name their best wines by — where the grapes are grown, not the name of the grape, for centuries.  They believe that terroir — where the grapes are planted — is key.  But California, with a far younger winemaking tradition, and a greater focus on who makes the wine (as opposed to the origin of the grapes) has been slower to embrace the concept.  Nickel & Nickel shows the importance of site with their range of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Take this one from the John C. Sullenger Vineyard.  It’s floral with nuances of violets or red flowers and lighter than many Napa Cabernets, including theirs.  Lightness in Cabernet could be perceived as a fault.  Not this one.  Amazingly for its “lightness,” it’s packed with flavor.  Of course, the tannins are silky.  But it’s stunning because of the paradox of lightness on the palate and intensity on your brain.  That’s what makes this a great wine.
97 Michael Apstein Jul 11, 2017