By Nicholas Harary
Last year’s runaway success story of Juliana Layla Chardonnay, the first wine I placed under a label named after my beautiful daughter, brought on a lot of questions from customers, like “Do you own a winery?” or “Do you own vineyards? The answers there are no and hell, no!
Vineyard work is as brutal as the kitchen. Mother Nature is no prize either. She might take away a few Saturdays here and there but I never have a year’s worth of work wiped out in one hailstorm. No, the secret of Juliana Layla and what makes this first release of Cabernet Sauvignon such an incredible deal is a lot simpler.
Many winery owners offer incentives of morale and extra income by allowing their winemakers to make their own lot of wine. Typically, they are given a few rows of vines to tend or their pick of barrels to manage as they see fit. Many times, their only costs are their own labor, bottling, labeling and then the marketing of the wine.
In many instances, these tiny lots of wines are more compelling then their day-job wines. Small batches of anything are generally more successful than larger ones, regardless of the product. Over the years, I’ve met a lot of winemakers. I’ve also fielded a lot of calls from them about how to bring their wine to market.
For most of these guys, it’s about making something great; figuring out how to sell this stuff might well be the same as figuring how quantum physics works. For many years I recommended good wholesalers I knew in each market. With the advent and success of Nicholas Wines, I now have a new response. Why not sell them directly to me?
I bought 10 barrels of incredibly good Cabernet from the 2011 vintage. Each was made from grapes that were farmed with the intention that the resulting bottle of wine would be sold for at least $50 retail. Through a great network of young winemakers looking to make something great on the side and by cutting out a whole bunch of crazy costs that are generally part of every bottle of wine, I have a terrific deal for Nicholas Wines Cabernet buyers.
The Juliana Layla is a full-bodied structured Cabernet, terrific aromatically and really long on the palate. This is no spineless bowl of fruit but a wine built to last and delicious with any cut of beef, either on the grill or roasted for any holiday dinner.
2011 Juliana Layla
The 2011 Juliana Layla is a classic Napa Cabernet, black in color with a dynamic nose of cassis, cedar and chocolate-tinged purple fruit. It’s old vine source rooted in the alluvial soils just outside of St. Helena is prime Napa Cab real estate. The wine is concentrated with a firm, solid finish that speaks to its potential for considerable aging. Perfect for holiday gifts, the holiday roast beast or any occasion that calls for an expensive Cabernet. Regular price, $50-$60, Nicholas Wines price, $27 or $300 ($25 a bottle) on 12-bottle cases.
Nicholas Harary is the owner and executive chef at restaurant Nicholas in Middletown. In 2011, Restaurant Nicholas launched its Nicholas Wines program. Each month, Nicholas Harary selects one to two wines to sell in the online store (www.restaurantnicholas.com). Chef Harary’s long-lasting, personal relationships with winemakers and his commitment to storing wine at 56 degrees from Day One equates to unique access, value and quality for Nicholas Wines customers. Wines can be ordered by the bottle and/or case and shipped or picked up at the restaurant.
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