The Carpenter Vineyard is located just east of the city of Napa, at the base of the Vaca mountain range in the Coombsville area. The soils are composed of deep, volcanic, gravelly loam, which drains well throughout the winter months. Cool growing conditions contribute heavily to the character of this wine. Fog hangs over the vineyard until mid-morning and prevailing winds from the bay move through in the afternoon. The summer days rarely reach extreme temperatures, so the vines enjoy nice, temperate conditions. These cooler conditions allow for slow ripening and long "hang time", which helps develop tannin maturity. This vineyard is one of the last to be harvested each year.
The spring of 1999 arrived later than usual and flowering occurred during cool weather, reducing crop production. The weather pattern was a blessing for this vineyard, since it is located in a cooler area and would have had difficulty ripening a heavier crop. A mild summer was followed by a warm, relatively dry fall, which allowed the grapes to further develop and mature their tannins before being picked in October.
In 1999, the Carpenter Vineyard produced a Cabernet of great depth and volume, packaged in the bold, impressive style of the vineyard. Very similar in profile to hillside fruit, aromas of cassis, tea and herb meld into currant, tobacco and dark chocolate notes with a solid middle palate supported by firm, rich tannins. This tight core of fruit surrounded by fleshy tannins is the signature of the vineyard.
Nickel & Nickel Winery
Nickel & Nickel is devoted exclusively to producing 100% varietal, single-vineyard wines that best express the distinctive personality of each vineyard. Established in 1997 by the partners of Far Niente, the winery is based in Oakville, California, on the 42-acre John C. Sullenger vineyard property. Nickel & Nickel produces single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, but also makes single-vineyard Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel.
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It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just grated an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.