This post is part 2 of a larger series about the 9th Annual S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition.
Welcome to Nickel & Nickel Winery!
After watching the Mystery Basket competition in the morning and relaxing in Yountville in the afternoon, guests arrived at this beautiful vineyard for a truly unique experience on Saturday evening.
Nickel & Nickel is different from most wineries because it aims to dedicate itself to only making single vineyard wines. What is a single vineyard wine? In short, it's wine made from grapes originating from the same vineyard. Typically, winemakers purchase grapes from various sources and blend them together to make their wines. The ability to use different grapes from different areas allows a winemaker to more easily tweak the flavor profile of the wine.
In the case of single vineyard wine, you are constrained to using the grapes from your plot of land. According to US wine laws, you can only name the vineyard on the label if 95% of the grapes come from that vineyard. Single vineyard wines really express the soil, climate, elevation, and other characteristics of the grapes' specific growing conditions. Drinking a single vineyard wine is the best way to really taste the terroir of the land.
A high quality single vineyard wine can be challenging to make. You can't use grapes with slightly different terroir (from another vineyard) to balance out or tweak the flavors of your wine. It's also challenging to keep consistent quality, as weather patterns can vary wildly year to year.
We had the wonderful privilege of enjoying a unique wine tasting as well as an unforgettable dinner at Nickel & Nickel. This was a great chance for the contestants, who had worked super hard earlier that morning in the Mystery Basket Competition, to relax and have someone else cook for them!
Upon arrival we were greeted with a row of servers all holding trays filled with glasses of wine. It was so pretty that most of the guests stopped to snap pictures before walking down towards the red barn.
A warm welcome from S. Pellegrino and Mrs. Nickels herself!
And then they opened the door . . . .
Wow! So pretty!
We walked down a beautifully decorated reflection pool and mingled briefly before heading into another part of the winery.
Here, amongst giant cylinders, we sampled various wines (some from barrels!) and enjoyed small finger foods.
We headed underground into the wine caves. I almost gasped when I saw how they had set it up. It was so beautiful. One immensely long table stretched all the way down the entire length of the wine cave.
We sat and ate amongst hundreds of wine barrels. The table seemed to go to infinity.
And the food?
Grilled line-Caught Yellow Fin Tuna
Wood Oven Roasted Sunchokes, Citrus Segments, Nickel & Nickel Estate Olive Oil, Chorizo, and Salsa Verde
2009 Nickel & Nickel Truchard Vineyard Chardonnay, Carneros, Napa Valley
Braised Snake River Farms Beef Cheeks
Winter Mix Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Fennel, Aged Asiago Polenta, and Cipollini Onions
2007 Nickel & Nickel Suscol Ranch Merlot, Napa Valley
2007 Nickel & Nickel Carbernet Sauvignon, Oakville, Napa Valley.
I learned from this meal that I absolutely love beef cheeks. I am typically not a huge beef person and I shy away from it because I don't like its tough and stringy texture (yes, even beef cooked rare still will not melt in your mouth - not unless it's Wagyu or Kobe!). These beef cheeks (which I assume had been cooking for hours) were super soft, moist, and amazingly tender.
Warm Walnut and Pear Cake, Vanilla Custard, Calvados Apples and Sea Salt Caramel
Simple chocolates with coffee
Parting gift - a bottle of Nickel & Nickel Merlot. I can't wait to try it!
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[…] start to blur together. I can’t remember at which wineries I tried which wines, and even the visits to the various caves and tasting rooms begin to blur […]