Both Nickel & Nickel and Far Niente were having their 2006 Cabernet Release Parties. At Nickel & Nickel, we sampled 13 of their single vineyard Cabs. Of the 13, our favorites were the Cooper Streak (named for the red, copper like streaks found in the vineyard soil), Tench (sorry, I really don't know how this vineyard got its name, but I can tell you it is the only one of the 13 Cabernets sampled that didn't really need to accompany food), and the Sullenger (which is named for the original settler of the Nickel & Nickel property). One other note - while enjoyable, we think these wines will be even better in 3-4 years or perhaps even longer.
At Far Niente, they were only serving three wines - their one 2006 Cab, their 2007 Chardonnay, and their wonderful, albeit expensive dessert wine, Dolce. Our time at Far Niente was highlighted by very briefly meeting Beth Nickel as well as getting a tour of her late husband's garage which included such historic vehicles as a 67 Shelby Mustang, a 61 Vette (the last year "scoops" were available), and two historic Ferraris. We also took advantage of the almost unheard of 25% discount they were offering on their Chardonnay.
Our last Vineyard stop was at Larkmead. You may not have heard of this winery, but Robert Parker has - two of their current vintages received 95+ from him - a very rare feat! Pictured above is the Winery Manager, Colin MacPhail who conducted a tour of the vineyard and winery for us. If you look closely at the Merlot grapes Colin is holding, you can see that some of them have already started to turn from green to a yellowish color, while some others are already purple. Colin estimated that it would only be another two weeks or so until all of their Merlot grapes were ready for harvest.
After the tour, we spent almost two hours on their veranda just chatting among ourselves with Colin coming over every so often to bring us a taste of another of their wines. While all of their wines were wonderful, we especially enjoyed the 07 Tocai Friulano. This is a white wine originally grown in the North Eastern parts of Italy. Perhaps it was because we had been tasting almost all reds earlier in the day, we found the Tocai to be refreshing with hints of pear, apples and even a little almond. Available only at the winery, this wine alone is worth the stop!