No, they haven’t shut the steakhouse and morphed into a winery. Rather, they have created a private-label wine for sale solely to their restaurant patrons. This is not your average house wine which is usually the least expensive and least explained wine on the list. Nick & Sam’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley is an altogether serious and big-league wine, inviting comparison with other top Napa Cabernets in blind tastings. It is made, as the back label explains, by Bob Egelhoff. His resume reads like a Who’s Who of Napa Valley royalty. Eglehoff worked at Beckstoffer Vineyards, Merryvale Vineyards, Robert Craig, and David Arthur during his 30 years of making wine. At David Arthur he crafted the 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon which the The Wine Spectator gave 99 points (out of 100). He got 10 job offers in the next six months. Little wonder he is the Tête de Cuvée Award Recipient at the 2011 Cotes du Coeur International Fine Wine Auction and Celebrity Chef Dinner in Dallas next April 9. And, while his winemaking expertise is self-evident, what may not be so apparent is his virtuosity with the ivories. Nick & Sam’s sommelier, Brian Soloway, revealed that part of the negotiations for the dinner ended up with a spontaneous session on the restaurant’s piano one night after the place had closed.
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Lately, Bob, in addition to his consulting work, has been concentrating on his own Egelhoff winery, which is turning out some serious Cabernet Sauvignons and a rather good Riesling. Brian explained that he bought a case, not knowing if he could sell it in a steak house, because he liked it so much.
The 2008 Nick and Sam’s Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon fruit. It is 100% from the Napa Valley with 95% from the St. Helena AVA. This is a young wine in every respect. The color is vibrant purple, especially noticeable at the edge of the glass. The nose is marked by raspberries and blackberries. The taste shows a wine very open in those same fruits and sweet in the mouth. An unmistakably New World Cabernet. It is riven with a tannic backbone that will be ideal for steak. The price is $95 on the restaurant wine list, which is comparable with many quality Napa wines, but only half the price of the 2007 Egelhoff Cabernet Sauvignon.