Home > Art, Cabernet Franc, OTBN - Open That Bottle Night, wine appreciation > Open That Bottle Night 2017 – What A Night!

Open That Bottle Night 2017 – What A Night!

February 28, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

Let’s say you have a bottle of an excellent wine. Do you know how to make it better than it is? I guarantee you this works every time, so listen carefully. You share it with a friend. Yes, that makes any excellent wine into an amazing one. Works like a charm.

Saturday, February 25th was Open That Bottle Night (OTBN for short) – the night when there is no bottle in your cellar which is off limits. If you are not familiar with OTBN, you can read more here. What made my OTBN twice as special was the visit by Oliver and his wife Nina.

For me, the decisions around wine are never easy. I typically buy wine in the single bottle quantities (okay, maybe four at the most, when I need to get a free shipping from WTSO) – thus any bottle can qualify as a special one. As an exception to my long and almost painful decision process, for this OTBN I had a very clear idea – 1982 Olga Raffault Chinon, of which I had a single bottle. The bottle out of the wine fridge and ready for the prime time.

This is what I was looking at after cutting the top foil:

old corkAs you can tell, this is not very encouraging. However, if you like older wines and get an opportunity to open them, you know that the state of the top of the cork is nothing to fret about. More often than not, behind most terrible looking mildew there is a delicious wine.

As this was 35 years old wine, I didn’t want to take any chances and used the two-prong opener to pull the cork out. This turned out to be an unnecessary precaution – while cork looked red throughout, it was perfectly firm and came out as a single piece without any crumbling – here is our OTBN corks collection, the red one is the one I’m talking about:

okd corks And for the wine… what can I tell you… This 1982 Olga Raffault “Les Picasses” Chinon, Loire looked perfectly fresh in the glass – not a sign of losing color.  Here are the two glasses, one is with 1982 Cabernet Franc, the second one is with 2014 – care to guess which glass contains 1982?

two glasses cab francYes, the one on the left is with 1982 wine, but I believe you would agree that the color shows perfectly young. The nose and the palate were an incredible study in Cabernet Franc flavor profile 101. The wine opened full of bell pepper – both on the nose and the palate. In about 10 minutes, the bell pepper was gone – and what was left was pure, unadulterated black currant – stunning, full flavorful black currant, also known as cassis if we want to use traditional French terminology. The wine had perfect structure, firm, with fresh acidity, almost crisp – and loads and loads of black currant. This was truly a treat.


We followed with a beautiful rendition of Ruchè – 2012 Poggio Ridente Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG San Marziano (organic grapes). Ruchè is a little known red grape, cultivated in the Monferrato region in Piedmont, capable of making very concentrated wines. This particular bottle, brought by Oliver and Nina directly from Italy, was fresh and open, with nicely restrained palate with mostly herbal flavors, and a twist – dried mango undertones. Nina was the one to identify the dried mango, while I was desperately trying to figure out what that strange flavor was – but that was a spot-on descriptor. An outstanding wine by all means.

Our next wine was 1989 Kaseler Nies’chen Riesling Auslese Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. No issues with the cork (makes me happy). Still fresh, clean light golden color (28-years old wine!). The nose and the palate were singing in unison here, and the music was simple – peaches and apricots. Slightly underripe peaches and fresh, plump apricots. The balance of sweetness and acidity was impeccable – the wine was fresh and alive, without any sign of age. Wow.

As an added bonus, the grapes for this wine were harvested in November of 1989 – the year and a month when Berlin Wall was demolished – and this is what the label of this wine commemorates.


Our OTBN night didn’t finish there. You would expect us to go to something nice and sweets after such a beautiful Riesling, right? In the conversation, it came out that Oliver doesn’t like Tempranillo wines. Being a Spanish wine buff, I had to fix that immediately, so I had to pull out the big guns. 2001 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Rioja Reserva Especial was absolutely beautiful from the get-go – cedar box and eucalyptus on the nose, soft and gentle cherries on the palate, fresh, round. I hope I made Oliver a convert – but will see about that the next time we will meet.

There you are, my friends. A stunning OTBN with great wines and great company. Hope you enjoyed your OTBN as much as we did – feel free to share your OTBN stories below. Cheers!

  1. February 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Proof that Cab Franc can age!!!

  2. okiewinegirl2015
    February 28, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Wow. What a night! I live vicariously thru your post and I always learn something. The color of the Chinon reminds me that 1989 was indeed a very good year!

    • talkavino
      February 28, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      1982 was a great year, and I’m sure 1989 was too 🙂

      • okiewinegirl2015
        February 28, 2017 at 7:22 pm

        lol 😂 yeah. It was. Year? I thought that was NV😉

  3. February 28, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Go big or go home! Great selection. How I would have loved a sip of the Chinon!

    • talkavino
      February 28, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      Believe it or not, but it is available in the store in NYC – for $75. So if really want it … 🙂

  4. March 1, 2017 at 3:01 am

    Looks like you had a great night indeed. I try not to make any bottles ‘off limits’, unless they are still too young. If I’ve had the opportunity to taste before buying, I usually buy 3 or 6 bottles, so I can get to know the wine as well as follow its evolution. For instance, I bought 6 bottles of a 2009 St Emillion that was a bit young in 2014 but seems now at its peak, so I’ll probably drink 3 more within this year 🙂

    • talkavino
      March 2, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      Interesting that you are saying that 2009 is at its peak. I have 1986 hidden somewhere – I guess you are saying it is about time to open it? 🙂

  5. March 1, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Wow, what a great night.

    Enjoyed my 2001 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Rioja Reserva Especial as well, but not last Saturday, opened a 1998 Grant Burge Mesach, it was still youthful, lush, smooth with a long finish!

    • talkavino
      March 2, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      The 1998 sounds very good – it is only 19 years young 🙂

      • March 3, 2017 at 9:19 pm

        Wish I had another bottle of it. Will have to find one! Another of the 2001 La Rioja would not go astray either

  6. March 1, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Fun night. Thanks again for sharing, Anatoli. We should be doing this way more often. 😉

    • talkavino
      March 2, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Yes, more often!

  7. March 4, 2017 at 4:16 am

    Wow, fabulous idea! So jealous! I should do it as well. I’ve stocked up a bunch of wines but haven’t had a chance to open them because I haven’t found right company. But I’m getting there slowly and will be opening some special wines this year, I hope.

    • talkavino
      March 4, 2017 at 10:13 am

      The idea is not mine 🙂 but it makes perfect sense. We, oenophiles, need a little prod to pull that cork 🙂

  8. March 4, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    I’m so envious! OTBN with Oliver and Nina!!! You lucky-duck! And the wine sounds amazing.

    Now that I’ve had my 15 seconds of envy, I’m just plain happy for all of you. Cheers!

    • talkavino
      March 4, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      It was definitely fun!!!

  9. March 8, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    Sounds like an amazing evening and everything is better shared with good friends. If I saw that cork I would have assumed the whole bottle was spoiled. I’ve learned so much from your blog!

    • talkavino
      March 9, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      Thank you for your kind words! The rule is simple – when it comes to wine, the proof is always in the glass. Don’t fret over corks or anything like that – always try the wine. Also never jump to conclusions on the first sip – more often than not, wine needs a bit of time to come together in the glass (believe me – I violate this simple rule every other time. I’m good with theory 🙂 )

      • March 9, 2017 at 11:25 pm

        I know I dumped an old & beautiful wine once. A friend convinced me it was “corked” but in retrospect, I don’t think we let it breath. I was much younger and naive.

        • talkavino
          March 10, 2017 at 7:52 am

          not the worst thing which can happen, right? 🙂 Unless it was Petrus or Screaming Eagle… 🙂

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