The harvest season is well underway and what better way to celebrate than to open a bottle of your favorite wine? At Le Vigne Winery, that often means popping the cork on a Nikiara, our Bordeaux-style blend. For this month’s blog post, we decided to take a close look as to what makes this wine unique.
What is a Bordeaux-Style Blend?
A Bordeaux-style blend is a wine composed of Bordeaux grape varieties. Bordeaux is a region in France with several sub-regions, not dissimilar to the concept of Paso Robles’ different AVAs (American Viticultural Areas). As of 2019, there were sixty-five appellations in Bordeaux while Paso Robles has eleven AVAs. The main red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc with Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenère also permitted. The main white varieties are Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The Gironde Estuary splits Bordeaux into the “Left Bank” with Cabernet Sauvignon being the dominant grape grown and “Right Bank” with Merlot dominating.
Bordeaux receives more than double the amount of rain than Paso Robles and is typically cooler during the summer months and growing season. The differences in climate and soil affect the characteristics of the wine grapes and the final product. Bordeaux-style wines from Paso Robles tend to be more fruit-forward with, what we like to call, “well-mannered” tannins (they do their job without being overwhelming). Because the tannins are already smoother, Paso wines typically do not have the ageability that French wines have. What does that mean for the consumer? You can enjoy that wine now and over the next few years rather than waiting 10/15 years.
What is Nikiara?
Now that we have briefly discussed what a Bordeaux-style blend is, let us move on to how this information applies to Le Vigne Winery. Many of you have come to know and love Nikiara as a Le Vigne favorite but how many know exactly what this wine is? Here is a list to help describe this special wine. Nikiara is…:
- a Bordeaux-style blend using a combination of Bordeaux varieties that are grown in our estate vineyards
- rich with 16 years of history. To date, fourteen vintages of Nikiara have been bottled with 2005 being the first vintage and 2018 being the most recent. The 2019 vintage is still in the barrel and 2020 vintage is coming in from the vineyard
- Le Vigne’s flagship wine. Its fall release is highly anticipated and celebrated year after year
- winery owners, Walter & Sylvia, used to sell a product at Peacock Cheese from French producers which was named with a combination of the names of their children, Isabelle & Pierre. Walter always told his children Domenico & Kiara (Nikiara) that if they get along as well as Isabel & Pierre (IsaPierre Cheese) he expects them to get along as well for the rest of their life – this was the idea for Nikiara from the beginning
- a high-scoring wine. In addition to receiving a gold medal every vintage, additional awards and accolades include Double Gold, Best of Class and Platinum
- typically included in the fall La Famiglia wine club shipment
- amazing with or without food
What does “Nikiara” mean to you?
Given the history of Nikiara at Le Vigne, it is not surprising that it is frequently a staff favorite. We each have a personal connection to the making, presenting and enjoying of this wine. To better understand the impact that Nikiara has had on individual team members, they were directly asked “what does ‘Nikiara’ mean to you?”. Here are some of the responses:
Terry (Winemaker): “Cherry-picked barrels of the best of our Bordeaux varieties blended to make a cohesive and elegant wine”
Anthony (Assistant Winemaker): “Crème de la Crème”
Michelle (Enologist): “Tradition, comfort and friendship”
Alan (Wine Club Manager): “Family bonds and the love that Walter and Silvia have for their children”
Creation of Nikiara
The main components each come in separately, once the grapes are ripe. In a typical year, Merlot is the first to be harvested while Cabernet Sauvignon is the last. Each variety will progress separately through alcoholic fermentation, malolactic fermentation then barrel-aging. Several months before Nikiara is due to be bottled, the winemakers will painstakingly work to assemble the perfect final blend (see previous blog post: “What’s happening at Le Vigne” for more details). Nikiara is released about one year after bottling meaning that the 2020 vintage of Nikiara will not be available to take home until approximately the fall 2023.
The thoughtful use of multiple varieties creates a balanced and elegant wine with immense depth. Dinner, cheese and charcuterie, or simply on its own, Nikiara can be enjoyed in many settings. Whether you are selecting a bottle to take to a dinner party or pouring a glass to enjoy as the sun sets, this wine will not disappoint. If you have yet to purchase the 2017 Nikiara, have already enjoyed the bottle from the October wine club shipment or just need to stock up, give us a call or stop by the tasting room soon. Nikiara sells out quickly each year and we do not want you to miss it!