Sunday, February 27, 2011

February, 2011 Nichelini Winery, St. Helena, CA

My friend and I arrived a few minutes late after enjoying the winding eight mile drive off the main road. "Cousin Kenny", as we were told to call him, was on the phone and waved that off mouthing, "you're not late". We were welcomed into what has been the family home since 1890, which they are currently renovating. The old dining room is now the "board room" (see above). The former family room is now the tasting room.

Shortly after we arrived, we were taken around back to see the bocce court and the cellar. The cellar contained an very large old barrel (the size of a walk-in closet)that we were able to walk inside of. It also contained an impressive collection of family wine tools.

Back up the stairs and inside, we began our tasting. The four wines available were all moderately priced. The first was the Sauvignon Vert. I coined this one a "deck wine" (one for sipping on the deck on a summer evening. Some of you may refer to this as a "porch pounder"; others a "sipping wine". Then the Merlot (which I recently had with pasta - good). Then the Primitivo, which is the Italian equivalent of Zinfandel, although Cousin Kenny disagrees. This wine can be aged and, at present, needs about 12 hours to breathe. The last taste was the Cabernet. We then returned to the Primativo for a second taste and, finally, blended a splash of Merlot with the Cabernet - which was like tasting a fifth wine as it had a whole new character to it altogether. I plan to use the same trick on my husband when I open these.

All of the wines were worthy of purchase and don't let the drive discourage you from checking out the oldest continuously operating family owned winery in the area. It is certainly worth the time and, if the other members of the family are as enjoyable as Kenny, you will have a wonderful time. Our appointment was at 11. We had lunch reservations at Blue Fish at 12:30 and another tasting appointment at 2. We were having such a good time, we blew off our lunch reservations and barely made our 2:00. We did, however, have time to stop at Taylor's Roadside for the Ahi Tuna Burger at Kenny's suggestion - also very enjoyable.
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