Napa Valley AVA
Nellcôte is still a tiny boutique winery that will grow in prominence in the future.
It’s almost as if Tyler Olbres (pronounced Ol-bree) was predestined to wind up in the wine business.
“We always considered ourselves a wine family,” recalled Olbres during a recent interview. “My parents had wine at every meal and drank Champagne nearly ever day. I grew up thinking wine was just part of the natural occurrence of everyday life.”
Olbres also was fortunate to be able to accompany his family to a number of trips to Europe and California. On one such trip, the family arrived at the famous Château Lynch Bages in Bordeaux and his father demanded a tour and tasting. When the Château somehow agreed, a lasting impression was formed in the mind of young Tyler Olbres.
After graduating from well-respected Bowdoin College in Maine where he majored in art history and romance languages, Olbres founded a company that specialized in the lucrative field of event marketing where the likes of fashion apparel and footwear brands like Lacoste and Timerland became his customers. His business proved wildly successful and he sold the business and moved to Southern France, the beautiful Saint-Jean-Cap Ferrat to be exact.
It was in France that his interest in wines literally exploded. “I was fortunate to be able to go out to a number of great restaurants and drink fine wines with my meals,” he recounted. “The whole experience was an inspiration to me and gastronomy became second nature to me. I was amazed at the passion the wine inspired in me and the fact that the vintner was able to put all that into a bottle. I wondered if I could ever replicate that same sort of ambiance.”
After returning to the United States, Tyler Olbres made a decision around 2011-2012 to do something about getting himself into the wine business. He selected the Napa Valley for its ability to produce outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and world-class wines.
For the name of his new venture, he went back to France and one of its most famous buildings, the Villa Nellcôte in Nice. “Our home was just two doors down from Nellcôte and I had always been impressed with the place,” continued Olbres. “It is a fascinating mansion and the place where the Rolling Stones recorded some of their finest music. The name seemed to fit what I wanted to do.”
The first release of Nellcôte occurred in 2014, a mere 150 cases of its signature Rosé. The following year, the first Cabernet Sauvignon was released to incredible reviews and scores from wine industry periodicals. Total production has remained around the 800-case level, but Tyler Olbres foresees some expansion in the future. “In a perfect world, I would like to produce somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 cases. Beyond that, I feel that some wines and wineries lose their cache and become commercialized. I want to continue to operate at the pinnacle of our operation and for that I need more exposure and continued top-notch winemaking.”
The Nellcôte winemaker is Phillip Corallo-Titus who spent twenty-five years with Napa Valley icon Donn Chappellet as winemaker and who is also the owner and winemaker of prestigious Titus Vineyards.
Olbres points out that Phillip is a traditional winemaker with a world of awards and accolades for his wines. “We do a lot of the work together, particularly at the time of the blending trials. He gives me an equal voice in the matter and it all seems to work quite nicely,” added Olbres.
As to the naming of his wines, Olbres, 42 drew from the fact that both his father and grandfather were heralded car designers, both with General Motors. “The pair were amazing car stylists and gave their lives to the car industry. Some people even said they had gasoline for blood. The names of my wines ‘500 Chevaux’ literally means ‘500 Horsepower,’ and ‘Rallye 76’ points to Monaco’s storied car racing history and to the Auto Club of Monaco,” explained Olbres.
Nellcôte is still a tiny boutique winery that will grow in prominence in the future. Its owner and winemaker are both dedicated professionals. Wineries such as this are important to insure future greatness in the competitive wine world. Enjoy this impressive wine featured in our Diamond Wine Club!