This historic vineyard is located in Oakville, directly north of Opus One, and east of the Robert Mondavi Winery and the famous To-Kalon vineyard. The property is named after Napa Valley pioneer John Crawford Sullenger, who, in 1865, purchased this property and adjoining parcels, amounting to a total of 150 acres. Sullenger later sold a portion of his land to Inglenook proprietor Gustav Niebaum, and to Hamden McIntyre, an architect who designed the buildings that later became home to Far Niente Winery.
The region is very cool with dense fog early in the season and windy conditions all year long. The vines are planted on a gentle, rolling knoll of deep, loamy soils and are cordon trained to give maximum light exposure to the fruit while the berries are very small, yielding low tonnage. Due to the cooler conditions, the vines mature slowly which allows time for great tannin maturity. This Merlot is often harvested with or after Napa Valley Cabernets and this extra "hang time" offers a velvety texture to the wine beyond compare.
Harmonious and plush, the 1998 Sullenger Cabernet Sauvignon is a beautiful expression of this vineyard, opening with delicately perfumed aromas and evolving into dusty, earthy tones. The entry is warm and smooth, with forward fruit flavors of plum and cherry filling the palate. Layers of coffee and light herb intermixed with sweet, toasty oak add great breadth, while elegant tannins complete the package.
707 cases produced.
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 granted 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.