Earlier this year I was introduced by chance to Nicholas Cole Cellars in Walla Walla, WA. While on vacation in the region we read about the winery and decided to pop into the converted car dealership tasting room for a taste. We were immediately drawn into the space, and more importantly, the intense, elegant wine.
With a focus on creating high quality, artisan red wines in the region Nicholas Cole has often been the recipient of high praise and recognition from wine publications and competitive awards. Their Camile blend, named after owner and winemaker Mike Neuffer’s grandmother, is a Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot with the percentage of each changing slightly each year. The 2006 vintage highlighted Cab Franc, with lots of green aromas, cracked pepper and earthiness, with Merlot and just 3% Cab Sauv. The Reserve has become a favorite, with the 2005 blending Cab Sauv, Cab Franc and a hint of Petit Verdot. A bold, complex wine with great fruit intensity, with hints of chocolate, licorice and nutmeg. Aged 36 months in 100% new French oak the wine was great when we tasted it in August and will continue to age nicely softening the tannins the next few years.
Yesterday I received a heartfelt note from Mike Neuffer. In August of this year the mother of his two beautiful children and winery namesake, lost their mother to cancer and after a very difficult few months Mike has decided to close the winery to move to Seattle to take care of his main priority, his family.
With sincerity he spoke of both of both the personal loss and the changes coming, but also the loss of what has been a dream and passion in making wine – of missing walking through the vines, the excitement of harvest, the release of a new wine and the growth of Walla Walla and recognition he had achieved through Nicolas Cole and GraEagel wines.
Mainly it spoke about the people. The friends and family who had supported the winery through the years. It is a special, and often rare, thing to be successful in a profession that is also a passion. The tasting room closes this week. There is nothing additional planned for Nicholas Cole at this point. I wish you luck in any adventure you take on next Mike. Bravo to you for many years of great wine making, and taking the courageous step putting family first.
There is a small portion of wine left that they are selling available via their website.