Recent Sips: A Delightful Duo from Nichelini Family Winery

Hello Friends,

I recently had the opportunity to join the good folks at Cellar Pass for an interactive tasting that featured Nichelini Family Winery's fifth-generation winemaker, Aimée Sunseri. Nichelini Family Winery is located in Napa County’s lesser-known Chiles Valley appellation and specializes in crafting small lots of estate-grown wines. Established in 1890 by Anton and Caterina Nichelini, Nichelini Family Winery is one of the oldest, continuously operated, family-owned wineries in all of California.

Happy Sipping! 
“Our family has a great American story,” said Aimée. The hand-hewn stone winery and family home, all built by Aimée’s great-great grandparents, along with the original Roman wine press, still sit on the family’s property today. With a family motto of “Generation to Generation,” I had a chance to taste two wines crafted by generations: a 2012 Old Vine Muscadelle and a 2011 Reserve Petite Sirah. Both of these wines showed well and the Petite Sirah is a very good choice for just about anything off the grill – particularly burgers and ribs. For further information and where you can find these wines, please see my tasting notes below.

Nichelini Family Winery 2012 Old Vine Muscadelle
Review: Nichelini Family Winery 2012 Old Vine Muscadelle (SRP $24): This is one of those oddities you can still find small plantings of in Napa Valley. Muscadelle, previously called Sauvignon Vert, is a white Bordeaux grape that was planted to the producer’s site some 67 years ago. It has survived being pulled up for something with better name recognition and the phylloxera epidemic of the 80s. In the glass, the wine boasts bright aromas and flavors of citrus fruit and quince with floral notes and an appealing, yet muted flinty quality. Overall, this is a vibrant, food-friendly wine that’s a nice alternative white to throw in the mix this summer. Region: Napa Valley, California. (Other info: ABV 13.7, all stainless, cork enclosure). 88 Points. Click here to find this wine. 

Nichelini Family Winery 2011 Reserve Petite Sirah
Review: Nichelini Family Winery 2011 Reserve Petite Sirah (SRP $43): Nichelini Family Winery has produced Petite Sirah since the 1970s. Their 2011 is dark purple in color, almost opaque, with rich and deep blackberry jam, blueberries, and ripe plum aromas, next to cured meat, vanilla bean, and wood spice. In the mouth, this wine is full and voluptuously textured with luscious flavors that mirror the nose, balanced acidity, and uncharacteristically relaxed and round tannins that melt into the spice-accented, generous finish. This Petite Sirah drinks nicely on its own and will also complement grilled and smoked meats. Region: Napa Valley, California. (Other info: ABV 14.2%, 100% Petite Sirah, aged 67% new American oak, cork enclosure.) 90 Points. Click here to find this wine.

About CellarPass: CellarPassTV is an informative weekly wine broadcast in which some of California’s top winemakers, winery owners, and people in the food and wine industry are interviewed by host Sarah Elliman. Their website,, is a leading destination for online winery reservations that’s well worth checking out if you’re thinking about visiting California wine country. To view this episode of CellarPassTV, click here.

Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned ...more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: These wines were provided for review. Thoughts are my own.

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