What Britt Nichols can do with a “Dream Vintage”
One look at Britt Nichols’ resume and it’s easy to understand where the young enologist developed her deft touch with Cabernet Sauvignon. After a stint at Jordan Winery, Nichols landed one of the most sought-after positions in the valley, working under Nicolas Morlet at Peter Michael, assisting in the making of the 2010 “Les Pavots.” A year later, Britt was recruited by Philippe Melka, the Bordeaux émigré whom Robert Parker named “one of the nine most influential winemaker consultants in the world.”
The Cabernet Sauvignons of Jordan, Peter Michael, and Philippe Melka are very much cut from the same cloth. All are deep in color, rich, and intensely concentrated. Yet unlike all too many Napa Valley Cabernets, these are also wines of great class, sleekness, and polish. In her first releases from the 2012 vintage, and even more so with her stunning 2013s, Nichols quickly proved that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
Six months ago, when we met Britt at Meadowood over Wagyu burgers doused in “secret sauce,” we found out that the best was yet to come. Here’s why.
2014 in Napa was characterized by drought conditions. So scarce was water that vineyard cover crops in the valley never took root. The hydric stress on the vines resulted in smaller yields but berries were incredibly concentrated, with striking dark purple/jet-black colors. Warm days throughout summer allowed Cabernet to develop wonderfully complex flavors, while cool nights kept acids in check. By the time the harvest rolled around, growers’ eyes were bulging in their sockets.
Wine Spectator called 2014 a “dream vintage, with quality along the lines of 2012 and 2013.” Britt added, “The weather was ideal for ripening. Our wine was soft and supple with great backbone and incredible density. Fruit and structure complemented each other perfectly. In comparison with the more wound-up 2013s, the 2014 is more approachable, in line with the vintage as a whole.”
As soon as we tasted the powerful, fresh, and incredibly finessed 2014 Cabernet Reserve, we knew all bets were off. Britt had eclipsed her prior releases and then some — she was about to light up the scoreboard, AGAIN.
As it turned out, we were right. The first 200 cases of Britt’s 2014, offered in a limited release last October, disappeared in a flash. When the ratings came in, 66 of 81 were 4 stars or higher. Now we’re back and opening up the floodgates, but don’t expect the remaining 200 cases to stick around — if Britt’s star-studded track record is any guide.
Compared to $75 on release. Just $28 today, ONLY on WineAccess. Sorry in advance to those who get shut out.