Oct 05 , 2022
A few weeks ago, I went to a tasting of wines from Far Niente Winery. I tend to lump this winery in with the Caymus and Quilts of the wine industry, but that is mainly because of their Chardonnay. Far Niente has a wide range of wines, most of which the vast majority of consumers have never even tried. They are obviously well known for their Far Niente Chardonnay, a classic big buttery oaky California Chardonnay, but they so have their EnRoute Chardonnay and Pinot Noir which are both excellent wines for their price points. Both of which tend to be much more well balanced and elegant style wines. However, most of their wines land in the more premium to ultra-premium categories.
Far Niente has a few brands/labels that fall under the Far Niente ownership. Obviously, there is the Far Niente Chardonnay and their Cabernet, which now as both a Napa Valley appellation and an Oakville appellation. Then there is the Bella Union Cabernet, Post & Beam Chardonnay and Cabernet and EnRoute Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (all of which tend to be slightly better "values" in Far Nientes standards, under $50). They also have their super premium dessert wine, Dolce, which is a sweet wine created to be similar to the wines from Sauternes France. Lastly are the Nickel & Nickel wines. These are again, ultra-premium (typically at least $100) wines.
Nickel & Nickel are 100% varietal single vineyard wines. This means that they are either 100% Cabernet, Syrah, Chardonnay etc. and they come from only one vineyard. This gives the consumer the opportunity to really experience the unique differences that each specific area has to offer. They have at least a dozen single vineyard Cabernets alone.
At this tasting, I had the opportunity to try 5 of these Cabernets side by side and it was amazing at the differences each had to offer. By far the standout of the tasting, which included about 10 other wines as well, was the 2019 Nickel & Nickel State Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine jumped out of the glass with its rich dark fruit flavors and big rich meaty weight on the pallet. Big Jim Suckling describes it this way, "Stewed blackcurrants, cassis, smoked meat, toffee and walnuts on the nose. Full-bodied with fine, sleek tannins and fresh acidity. Succulent and polished with a juicy, flavorful finish."
I have been to many tastings where there are so many big wines, that after a while it is hard to notice many differences. That is when I just wait until one really stands out from the rest and makes me take notice. That usually becomes the winner of a tasting for me. At this tasting, that wine was the State Ranch. This is definitely a wine for a collector or if you are starting a new cellar. This wine will age for a long time and will be fun to taste years down the road. It is also one to get now, because there will be no 2020 Nickel & Nickel wines due to the fires, so it will be a while before the 2021s are released.