One of my first stops this week after the Wine Bloggers Conference concluded was Nicholson Ranch Vineyards. I’d had a couple of their wines previously, but had never been to the tasting room. They really straddle the line over at Nicholson, and I don’t mean their wine. They’re situated in Carneros, right on the appellation line really, in Sonoma, but not very far from Napa.
Not surprisingly for a Carneros based producer, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are at the heart of their operation. Their 2006 Estate Chardonnay was the first wine I tasted and it featured lots of ripe fruit, good balance, acidity and a spicy finish. Next I went though three Pinot Noirs. Pinot was the varietal that first attracted me to Nicholson. The Russian River, Estate and Sonoma Coast were all from the 2006 vintage. My preference leaned towards the Estate Pinot which featured dark, brooding fruit as well as some smoke and spice on the finish. The Sonoma Coast is quite nice as well but seems like it needs a bit more time to fully resolve itself and shine.
Once I had tasted through the Burgundian selections I tried a few other offerings. A 2004 Estate Syrah featured tobacco, leather and dark fruit in the nose. Nutmeg and continued dark fruit notes filled the palate which led into a brambly, earthy finish. This Syrah turned out to be quite indicative of the examples of the varietal I’m finding on this trip. That is, they are often well balanced, earthy and reminiscent of their Rhone counterparts.
The last wine I sampled at Nicholson was a 2005 Estate Merlot. Black Cherry notes were the most prominent characteristic of this offering. At 3 years of age it’s still a very youthful wine with a solid structure. It’s tasty now but will definitely benefit from cellaring.
Wine wise the 2004 Syrah was my favorite of the selections tasted at Nicholson Ranch. It has a $40 price-point and delivers plenty of complexity, pleasure and potential age-ability to justify that cost.
The tasting room at Nicholson Ranch Vineyards is a bright, cheery place to visit. The staff is friendly, eager to please and knowledgeable about the wines. Most importantly though, they feature well made wines. This a good stop, recommended for those looking for a spot to hit in the Carneros region.
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