Britt Nichols has made her best wine ever. That’s the essence of the 2015 Nichols Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve Napa Valley. Of course, as Britt told us, “It all starts in the vineyard.” And what a vineyard it is. The 2015 Private Reserve was sourced from one of the Valley’s Grand Cru estates; a Napa First Growth if there ever was one, where 99-100 point scores are nothing to write home about and the Cabernet Sauvignon frequently soars above $400 per bottle. Britt went up to this legendary winery in the hills above St. Helena and brought back 8 barrels of estate-grown Cabernet, which she finished, racked, then aged in 100% new French oak for an additional 20 months to create a masterpiece. When you think about what this wine is and what it compares to, $34 per bottle is a drop in the bucket. No time to think twice.
When we met Britt at the bar at PRESS to taste the 2015 Nichols Private Reserve, she already had it in a decanter, and the wine was glistening a deep ruby purple. That day there were no burgers ordered, no ribeye or American wagyu flat-iron steaks, just two glasses and an unctuous wedge of black truffle pecorino. “This is all we’re going to need,” said Britt. And she was right.
A healthy four-ounce pour from the decanter revealed striking black currant, and ripe blackberry aromas before we even brought the glass to our noses. After drawing it in, the bouquet unveiled more layers of dark fruit, followed by graphite and dark chocolate. On entry we felt its seriousness and the classic characteristics of the estate fruit — rich, dense, powerful — yet the mid palate was all about lift. Juicy acidity and freshness cut through chewy tannins to add mouthwatering flare.
Next to the pecorino, earth and fresh tobacco accents came through, adding complexity. The finish was long and satisfying with Madagascar vanilla bean, espresso and cedar. All we could do was smile. “It’s like gold-covered chocolate. Or maybe chocolate-covered gold,” we managed.
“Sounds about right,” Britt laughed. “The juice was so gorgeous when I got it, I really didn’t have to do too much. Those are my favorite wines, not because they make my job easier, but because they are the earth’s greatest expressions. A great winemaker, in my opinion, lets the vines do the talking.”
We knew Britt was being humble — we’ve tried making a few wines at home with the same “non-interventionist” approach and the results were hardly similar — “And you’re one of them,” we replied, “the all-star Cabernet is the cherry on top,” we grinned.
Thankfully, an NDA has our lips sealed about the exact name of the estate where Britt sourced her precious 8 barrels — we’d like to yap on about who it is, but if we did, the price would be a lot higher. Instead, $34 per bottle is the cost today, while we keep our traps shut. Enjoy it by the case, as most of us in the office are doing. It’s too good not to.
Editor-in-Chief, Wine Access
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