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OTBN 2019 – What a Night!

February 27, 2019 10 comments

Open That Bottle Night (OTBN for short) is my favorite “wine holiday”. Of course, the absolute majority of celebrations in our lives – holidays (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving…), birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, promotions – include wine, but strictly in the supporting role. All the “grape days” are about wine, yes – but typically restricted to a specific grape. OTBN is a special day when the wine is a front and center of our celebration – OTBN is all about showing respect to those special bottles which all need the special, perfectly appropriate moment to be opened. OTBN allows us to say “the perfect moment has arrived” and just open That Bottle.

OTBN 2019 lineup

Almost full line up – few bottles are not shown

While I’m celebrating OTBN for a long time, this year’s event helped me to better appreciate the true purpose of this “holiday”. Okay, I have to say that I never had such a massive amount of wine opened for the OTBN – we went through 14 bottles – and each bottle was special in its own way. But until now, all of my OTBN experiences where strictly positive – the majority of the wines opened for OTBN were either at its peak or well drinkable at the moment but still promising to improve with time. But this year, in addition to absolutely stunning, mature, unparalleled wines we had wines which were either past prime or in the strange sleeping mode (yes, I’m an optimist),  adding a good reason to follow the founding principals of the OTBN and pull the cork from That Bottle now.

Here are my notes for the wines we opened this year, together with a bit of explanation as to what made this wine special and my impressions.

2001 Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatori Metodo Classico Trento DOC (100% Chardonnay)
Why: I was looking at this bottle for a long time. Ferrari makes some of the very best sparkling wines in Italy, and this is their flagship wine. At 18 years, it is a good age for the sparkling wine – and OTBN is a perfect reason to open a wine like that.
How was it: Amazing. Light bubbles, but the balance is amazing, light toasted notes, wow. The wine stayed fresh throughout the whole evening and was one of everyone’s favorites.

2013 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Puligny-Montrachet Le Trezin, Cote de Beaune
Why: Jim had multiple bottles of this wine and was worrying about Premox (Premature oxidation). Thus he put it out just to try.
How was it: Superb. delicious, classic burgundy, beautiful, elegant, round. Another one of the top choices for everyone.

2007 François Cazin Le Petit Chambord Cour-Cheverny AOC
Why: This is one of my favorite wines. When it was 10 years old, was literally blown away
How was it: Underwhelming. A touch of petrol, clean, good acidity, bud no bright fruit. Still delicious in its own way – I would gladly drink it any time. But – lucking the “umpf” which was expected… Still have 2 more bottles – will open later on and see.

2014 Damien Laureau Le Bel Ouvrage Savennières AOC
Why: Well, OTBN is an all-inclusive celebration. I rarely drink Savenniers, so it is always fun to experience something new.
How was it: Ok. For the 5 years old Chenin Blanc from the Loire, it was quite decent. Nice white wine – can’t say much more than that.

1996 Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Blanco Reserva Rioja DOC
Why: why not? Lopez de Heredia is one of the very best Rioja Producers, and their Viña Tondonia Blanco might be one of the best white wines in Spain – at least from point of view of the wines which can age
How was it: A flop. Unless there was a flaw with this particular bottle, this wine was past prime and had no joy in it.

2015 Royal Tokaji The Oddity Hungary (100% Furmint)
Why: Furmit is the grape used in the production of the Hungarian Tokaji wines, some of the very best dessert wines in the world, easily rivaling the best Sauternes. Problem is – it is very difficult to prevent Furmit vineyards from the Noble Rot settling on the grapes – and thus it is rare – and difficult – to produce dry Furmint wine. Here comes The Oddity – dry Furmint wine.
How was it: Very good. Nice, clean, great minerality, balanced well-integrated palate, good acidity. Thank you, Lori, for this delicious find.

Kistler Chardonnay with Glass

No filter – look at the color of this 24 years old Chardonnay

1995 Kistler Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley
Why: Kistler is one of the best Chardonnay producers in California, so this alone is enough to include such wine into the OTBN line up. But then California Chardonnay rarely built to last for so long, so it was definitely the time to open this bottle.
How was it: Amazing. Almonds, apples, still present vanilla, a touch of smoke, good acidity – amazing for 24 years old white wine

2008 Jacques Puffeney Vin Jaune Arbois Jura
Why: Trying to explain the wine such as Vin Jaune to the uninitiated wine lovers presented an interesting challenge – I failed to explain what “oxidative” means. Anyway, putting this aside – Jura wines are rare. Vin Jaune wines are rare. Jacques Puffeney wines are beyond rare – 2014 was the last vintage which he commercially produced. This wine is absolutely OTBN worthy (thank you, Jim!)
How was it: Amazing. An oxidative nose which was also incredibly attractive, mature fruit, good acidity, elegant, present, delicious wine.

1971 Carretta Nebbiolo

No filter – just look at the color of this wine! Amazing.

1971 Tenuta Carretta Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC
Why: 1971. Need we say more? Yes, the wine of such age is absolutely meant for OTBN.
How was it: Amazing, absolutely amazing. We poured it without decanting. The wine changed dramatically over the course of an hour. My first impressions were: pungent, with clean acidity, mature restrained fruit, still has lots of life left. Wow. About 15 minutes later, the wine totally changed and was the most reminiscent of a nice, concentrated Rosé – cranberries, a touch of strawberries, good acidity, very refreshing. Another 15 minutes made this wine most reminiscent of Jura red, a Poulsard if you will – light, great acidity, a touch of red fruit. Truly an amazing experience. And don’t forget to look at the color of this wine…

1986 Château Bel-Air Lagrave Moulis-en-Médoc AOC
Why: 33 years is a very respectable age for any wine – you really want to ask such wine “how ya doin”
How was it: Wow. Young, beautifully balanced, beautiful Bordeaux, just perfect. In a blind tasting, I would never identify this as a 33 years old wine. Yes, you can call me a failure.

1996 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Léognan
Why: My exact question – why? Only because we could?
How was it: not ready. Needs time, mostly locked up. You would never think that 23 years old Bordeaux is not ready to drink, but it was not.

2004 Château Latour à Pomerol Pomerol AOC
Why: Same as previous wine – really, why?
How was it: Not ready. Closed nose, mostly cherries on the palate, need another 10-15 years.

2006 Telavi wine Cellar Satrapezo Saperavi Kakheti Georgia
Why: One of my most favorite Georgian wines. Limited production, a beautiful example of Georgian Saperavi. Most of the wine lovers are still unfamiliar with Georgian wines, so I really wanted to introduce this wine to the people.
How was it: Excellent. Still tight, beautiful fruit, big wine, could use more time. I was a bit concerned that this wine is reaching its peak – I was wrong. I’m sure another 5 years would do wonders here. Oh well…

2005 Weingut Petri Herxheimer Honigsack Scheurebe Trockenbeerenauslese Pfalz Germany (100% Scheurebe)
Why: For one, it is very appropriate to finish a great wine program with the dessert wine. And then how many of you even heard of Scheurebe? Scheurebe grape is a cross between Sylvaner and Riesling. It is quite rare, so yeah, a perfect choice for OTBN.
How was it: Spectacular. Not only it had great acidity which is essential in enjoyable TBA-level sweet wine, but it also showed a mix of honey and herbs – rosemary, sage, thyme – just an unbelievable concoction and ultimate pleasure in every sip. Thank you, Stef, for this treat.

Obviously, I can’t complain about such an amazing OTBN – however, as you saw, we had our share of disappointment. At the same time, the good greatly overweight the bad – 1971 Nebbiolo, 2001 Giulio Ferrari, 1995 Kistler, 2008 Vin Jaune, 1986 Bordeaux were all personal favorites and I would be glad to experience those wines again at any time.

Now that I told you about our OTBN, how was yours?

Open That Bottle Night – OTBN 2019

February 21, 2019 Leave a comment

Wine fridgeWine lovers – this is your public service announcement, so listen carefully.

Open That Bottle Night is Saturday, February 23, 2019.

I repeat – OTBN is taking place this coming Saturday! Are you ready?

Okay, so all of you who are familiar with the OTBN, please say “thank you for the reminder” and quietly retreat to your cellars in attempt to solve the unsolvable.

For those who don’t recognize the OTBN term, let me explain.

Open That Bottle Night (OTBN for short) movement was originated by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, writers of the Wall Street Journal’s Tastings column. Back in 2000, they decided to help people to put their best wine bottles to the best possible use (e.g., drinking and enjoying them) by designating last Saturday in February as special “pull that cork” day.

All of us, wine lovers, have that “special bottle”. The birth year vintage, a gift from a special friend, a bottle brought from the special trip, a bottle signed by winemaker, special wedding present, or something special we managed to score many, many years ago – it is really not important what makes that bottle special. However, with all those “special bottle” designations, we keep waiting for that special, right, proper, one and only moment to pull that cork – and subsequently, we are risking one of two things:

  • we might not be around to enjoy that special bottle of wine (not trying to use any “scare tactics” – this is just a part of life)
  • the wine might not be around for us to enjoy it – ever heard of “past prime”?

Nobody knows what is the “right time” for the wine. We have our expectations, of course, but it is in human nature to doubt oneself, and thus we keep arguing with ourselves about the “right moment”. The “right moment” is also something entirely individual – the right age of the wine, a long-fought-for job promotion, wedding anniversary, significant birthday, or simply the right company. And so we are waiting and waiting and waiting – and risking one of the two outcomes I mentioned before. This is where OTBN comes to the rescue. OTBN makes an opening of that prized bottle a good enough reason in itself – it is really a celebration of life as it happens.

Ever since its creation, OTBN was getting an increased following from all over the world, with people from China, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan, Europe and, of course, the USA, gladly reporting about the opening of those long-cherished bottles – and their personal life stories.

It is the right time, wine lovers, to get that bottle ready. If you need any additional instructions, the Wall Street Journal took care of it by publishing the guide to the OTBN, so now you are guaranteed not to make any mistakes. Go, start thinking about that special bottle you are going to enjoy this Saturday – to celebrate life. And don’t forget to share your special moment with all of us. Will be waiting.

Open That Bottle Night – 2018 edition

February 25, 2018 11 comments

We all have THAT bottle. How I mean it, you ask? Simple. We all have bottles which have special meaning for us. This one was brought home from the vacation 5 years ago. That one was given by a generous friend with the recommendation to wait for a special moment to drink it. Those in the corner came from the parent’s cellar.  Ahh, these I found on a garage sale  – would you believe it? Oh yes, and those I got during a great sale – yes, one of each, as I couldn’t afford to buy any more of them.

Wine is a perfect vehicle for creating special moments. Maybe the best there is. But this also is a problem in itself. We get attached to those special bottles, always doubting if this is the right moment to open them and keep waiting and waiting for a perfect one. Yes, the wine improves with age, but nothing is forever. There is always a chance that at the proper moment, the wine might not be there for us anymore, and we might not be there for the wine.

To help people with THAT bottle dilemma, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, the journalists behind Wall Street Journal’s Tastings column at a time, created a special event which they called Open That Bottle Night (OTBN for short) back in 1999, celebrated always on the last Saturday in February. Now, almost for 20 years, OTBN helped wine aficionados around the world to ease the pain of parting with those special bottles and actually enjoy the wine in its prime time (or at least that is the intent and the hope). 

The OTBN is truly all about the wine, so the oenophile gets its chance to agonize about the impossible choice, going from one bottle to another bottle and finding the reasons why this is not yet the time to claim for it to be THAT bottle. I went multiple times through all my wine fridges, joyfully finding and immediately grudgingly rejecting my choices. Three days later, I just grabbed two bottles which jumped to my attention and said “this is it! no more!”.

Let’s talk about our OTBN wines – there should be at least some reason for the wines to be “it”, right? So the white wine was interesting in many ways. First, it came to our house via the Secret Wine Santa exchange, courtesy of inimitable Drunken Cyclist. The wine is made out of the rare grape (Malvasia) which is absolutely uncommon for California; the wine is Skin Fermented, which seems now to be a popular term for what was known before as “orange wine” – the grapes are fermented in contact with skin, which is not typical for the white wine. Lastly, the wine comes from the Suisun Valley, which seems to be an up and coming region in California – for example, Caymus, a California wine powerhouse,  recently released the new wine called Grand Durif (Durif is original French name for Petite Sirah), made from the grapes grown in the Suisun Valley.

2015 Onward Skin Fermented Malvasia Suisun Valley (12.8% ABV)  – light golden in the glass (nothing says “orange wine”), beautiful tropical fruit on the nose – guava, passion fruit. On the palate, initially showed light fizz which went away in about 15 minutes. Cut through acidity, peppery spiciness, white underripe fruit, there is a touch of funk or maybe rather oxidative notes which hint at extended skin contact; overall – different and delicious (Drinkability: 8). Also much rounder on the second day. Probably requires food.

Now, the red doesn’t really have a story. I have no idea how did it make it into our house. Yes, it is a Brunello, which is generally good (one of the 3 big Bs of the Italian wines – Barolo, Barbaresco, and Brunello); Argiano seems to be a good producer even though I don’t know much about them. Lastly, the wine has good age on it, however, it is not much of an age for any of the big Bs. Oh yes, and it was my only bottle, which squarely puts it into THAT category.

2003 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino DOCG (14% ABV) – needed a bit of help from the decanter to open up (about an hour) – dark concentrated garnet color, no hint of age, deep tobacco and roasted meat on the nose, leather, cherry, cherry pit and a touch of plums on the palate. Right after opening, the wine seemed that it was either at prime or maybe already even past prime – after 3 hours in the decanter and a glass, the wine started closing, with fruit disappearing and fresh, young tannins taking its place. This wine would probably last for another 10 years – but I stand no chance to find out as this was my one and only bottle. Still, the verdict is simple – delicious (Drinkability: 8+/9-).

That sums it up, folks. I love OTBN, as the wine is meant to be drunk, and OTBN helps us to get THAT bottle out and experience it before its too late. How was your OTBN? Cheers!

OTBN 2016: Two Spanish Jewels, And What The Others Opened

February 29, 2016 5 comments

Vegaclara Mario - Passion I don’t like making decisions. Here, I said it. Not around the wines for sure. But I have a justification for this indecisiveness – and I’m sure many oenophiles will attest to the same. You see, I like to drink aged wines. Despite popular notion from many wine professionals that people don’t understand what is good for them and should drink their wines young (here is the latest piece from Steve Heimoff on the subject), I still like my wines with a little age on them. Heck no, I actually like them well aged. But most wines in my cellar are in the single quantities (yes, that means One bottle) – therefore, if I open it, I will not be able to find out if it will improve with age. As you can imagine, this can lead to many, many “indecisive moments”.

So for the people like myself, Open That Bottle Night was invented. I will not go again into the history of the OTBN – I already wrote about it extensively here. But the event itself really makes you to take decisions and “just do it”.

Yes, the decision making is frustrating. But once decision is made, frustration is out and anticipation and excitement are in. It would be so interesting to understand how the mind (subconscious?) arrives at a decision where there are lots of possibilities, all promising similarly happy outcome (in the end of the day, no matter what bottle you will open, as long as it is not spoiled, you will still be happy – with a 99% chance). Someone really have to study how the oenophile’s mind works. So in this mysterious way, all of a sudden the decision came to open two of the Spanish wines I had for a little while. To be absolutely honest – first I decided on those two wines, then I started figuring out what was making them special – and these wines are special.

Angel Rodriguez Mertinsancho Verdejo RuedaHow special? Both wines were made by pioneers, and they represent true passion and vision which makes winemaking so unique. The first wine was called  Martinsancho, made out of the grape called Verdejo in Rueda, Spain. Martinsancho is the name of the vineyard in Rueda, where Verdejo had been planted since 17th century. But you see, in the mid 1970s, the whole size of the vineyard was only 1 acre, and it was pretty much the last of Verdejo left in Spain, due to natural (phylloxera) and man made (political, economic) causes. Angel Rodriguez had a passion, vision and tenacity to preserve that vineyard, replant the original cuttings on the 25 acres, and literally single-handedly restart Verdejo production in Rueda. Angel Rodriguez’s hard work was even honored by the King of Spain Juan Carlos.

How was the wine? One word – delicious. One of the very best Spanish white wines I ever had. Here are the notes:

2009 Ángel Rodrígues Martinsancho Verdejo Rueda DO (13% ABV, $17, 100% Verdejo)
C: light golden, very pretty
N: restrained, touch of grass, minerality, almonds
P: great deal of finesse, it is smooth, silky, good acidity, medium to full body, elegant
V: 8+, great world class wine

Our second started with this view once the top foil was removed:

Vagaclara Mario Bottle TopFrom my experience, this doesn’t mean the wine is spoiled (at least so far it never happened), but it still makes you uneasy – there are no substitutes in this game. This was the only hiccup though, the wine itself was unaffected.

Vegaclara Mario Ribera Del DueroSimilar to the first wine, this one was also a product of a passion, a dream. Clara Concejo Mir inherited the vineyard from her grandfather Mario. Located at the high altitude of 7,750 feet, this is first vineyard in teh Ribera del Duero region; the vineyard is also adjacent to the vineyards of legendary Vega Sicilia. While Tempranillo is a king in Ribera del Duero (often called Tinto Fino), Clara also had a vision to add Cabernet Sauvignon to her wine which she called Mario (yes, in honor of her grandfather). She also had perseverance to lobby the regulatory body of Ribera del Duero to allow officially put Cabernet Sauvignon on the label of the Ribera del Duero wine. The rest of this can be subsided to a moan which you will produce upon taking a sip of this wine.

2008 Vegaclara Mario Ribera Del Duero DO (13.5% ABV, $25, 77% Tempranillo, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13 month in oak – 33% French, 33% American, 33% Hungarian)
C: dark garnet
N: fresh berries, touch of barnyard, eucalyptus, black currant
P: yum! (is that a good descriptor?) silky smooth, polished, great depth and concentration, black currant, dusty mouthfeel, flawless, perfect balance
V: 9, a wine of an outstanding finesse

Now that I told you about wonderful wines and passion we experienced, I want to give you a glimpse into what the others were drinking. First of all, I was very happy to see an increased number of posts about OTBN all over the social media – or as at least it seemed as an increased number of posts to me. And then over the course of the week I inundated lots of people on Twitter, keep asking them what are they going to drink (and making sure they will remember about OTBN) – I hope it didn’t cost me any followers, but oh well, it is a good cause. So below is a small collection of tweets plus some blogs posts about the OTBN wines, in no particular order:

The Armchair Sommelier:

Food and Wine Hedonist:

Jean Edwards Cellars:

Peter Zachar:

Wine Raconteur wrote about the wines he will not be opening for OTBN:

https://thewineraconteur.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/open-that-bottle-night-2/

Margot Davies: (by the way, I would really love to try that wine)

Gwendolyn Alley:

Bill Dufton:

Winetracker.co:

DrinkWhatULike:

The Fermented Fruit:

Vino In Love:

These are the snippets of conversations I had about #OTBN – I’m sure I missed some too. So what did you end up opening for OTBN and did you like your choice after the cork was pulled out? I would love to know – you know where the comments section is.

Before we part, I want to remind you that actually you have the power to make any night an Open That Bottle Night – no need to wait a year to open That Bottle. Just do it! Cheers!

 

 

Open That Bottle Night 2016: What Wine Are You Going To Open?

February 23, 2016 19 comments

Open That Bottle Night (OTBN for short) is an [international] phenomena created by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, the writers of the hugely popular “Tastings” wine column in Wall Street Journal for more than 10 years. Once inundated with the questions “what is the right time to open this [special] bottle”, they designated last Saturday of February as the day when oenophiles should really pull the plug cork on that bottle which was stored until the “special day” would arrive. Only most of the oenophiles have a problem deciding if today is already special, or not special enough.

With the idea to encourage oenophiles to finally reach for That Bottle, Dorothy and John invented OTBN back in 1999. From there on, the OTBN was steadily increasing in popularity not only in the US, but around the world, with people getting together for the special OTBN parties and dinners, and restaurants offering discounts and special menus.

Last November, I had a pleasure of meeting Dorothy and John at the Piper-Heidsieck Vin Clairs tasting in New York, which I attended together with Jeff, better known as The Drunken Cyclist. As part of conversation with Dorothy we also touched on the subject of OTBN. To my surprise, I got an email from her two weeks ago asking for my thoughts on selecting the wine for upcoming OTBN, which will take place this coming Saturday, February 27th.  I gave her somewhat of a mumbling answer, which was included into her OTBN 2016 post in the Grape Collective Magazine, together with the similar input from Jeff.

Let me tell you why you and every other oenophile should take part in OTBN and open That Bottle now. Two reasons:

  1. Wine might not be any good
  2. You might not be any good

I’m not trying to be overly dramatic or use scare tactics of any sort. This is simply what is called “life”.

Think about that prized wine bottle. May be you brought it from your honeymoon trip or anniversary trip, great cruise or an amazing vacation in the vineyards. Since it made it to your house, was it ideally stored? Was it Barolo, Bordeaux or Chablis, which can age great without much regard to the producer or a vintage? Or was it delicious Rosé from Provence, sumptuous red Cotes du Rhone or a playful Vouvray? Chances are, even in ideal conditions, those wines will not last for too long. The whole idea behind those “special” wines is that they are connected to our emotions and memories, and when we drink them we get to re-live the joyous moment of the past – but you do want the wine to match the taste as you remember – and if it doesn’t, well…

The second issue is also a problem. Take a look at Jeff’s post about meeting Dorothy and OTBN, and take a look at the source of his second possible choice of the OTBN wine, the ’85 Inglenook – he got it from someone who could no longer drink wine due to the medical reasons  – and that person was devastated about it, as any of us would under his circumstances. Your health can change, your palate can change – do you really want to risk the joy of having a great glass of wine by not been able to find the “ideal moment”?

choose a bottle

Still undecided? Think about it this way. Opening of That Bottle for the OTBN is a win-win, it always is. First, you get to drink the wine you always wanted to drink. Second, with opening of the bottle you are actually not losing anything – on contrary, you are gaining a great experience. If the wine is good, you are transported to the past, you get to re-live “the moment” once again – and create a new memory for the future. If the wine is not good, or not as you recall – you still create a new memory, and you can move on to your next “special bottle” (pleeease, don’t tell me you had one and only one, okay?).

Don’t know if I succeeded in convincing you, or if you even needed to be convinced, but I hope you will decide and open that special bottle, no matter what makes it special. And then I also hope that you will leave me a comment and tell me what you are planning to open or what you had for OTBN, as I’m dying to know.

As for me, still need to make up my mind – there are lots of choices, so I’m sure it will be a last minute decision, but rest assured that the special bottle will be open – and I promise to tell you all about it. Enjoy the OTBN, and don’t overthink it – just do it! Cheers!

Coming Up This Saturday: #OTBN – Open That Bottle Night

February 26, 2015 8 comments

wine and time 3Just a quick reminder to all the wine friends, oenophiles, aspiring sommeliers and all the other folks who find wine to be an indispensable part of their lives – OTBN is here, so get your thinking hat on and go visit your cellar (those without a cellar can settle for the visit to the good wine store).

Open That Bottle Night, usually abbreviated as OTBN, is a movement created by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, writers of the Wall Street Journal’s Tastings column. In the year 2000, they declared last Saturday in February to be a special night for the wine lovers – it should be the night when that special, cherished, admired, preserved, treasured bottle gets right on the table – and gets opened. The wine needs to be enjoyed – as the life is unpredictable, we should really create those special moments in the “now”, instead of waiting for them for the eternity.

Since its invention, OTBN became an international phenomenon, celebrated all over the world. This upcoming Saturday, February 28, 2015, is the last Saturday of February – so it is the time to get that special bottle ready and open. I don’t think you need any special instructions, but in case you feel like you need someone to tell you what to do, here is the link to the Wall Street Journal article which will give you the detailed instructions on how to enjoy OTBN.

I know you are hoarding more than one special bottle – it is the time to put at least one of them to the good use. If you care to share what you will be opening, this what the comment section is for. Open That Bottle! Cheers!

Open That Bottle Night–Oops

February 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Last Saturday, February 22nd, was the Open That Bottle Night – the movement started by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, the wirters of the Wall Street Journal Tastings column. I this is a great way to help oenophiles to open that special bottle in their cellars without really waiting for the moment which might never come. To support the OTBN idea, I’m going to reblog all of the OTBN posts which I will see from my fellow bloggers. Below is the one written by Jeff, better known as The Drunken Cyclist. Enjoy!

the drunken cyclist

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, this past Saturday was Open That Bottle Night (OTBN). OTBN was started back in the 1990’s by the then wine writers for The Wall Street Journal, Dottie Gaiter and John Brecher. Their ingenious idea: Most wine lovers have (at least) one bottle of wine that they have been saving for an as yet undetermined “special occasion.” Inevitably, this bottle remains unopened year after year since we can not determine whether a given occasion is “special enough” to warrant the sacrificing of the prized bottle. Gaiter and Brecher proposed that once a year on the last Saturday in February, we create, in essence, a “special” occasion and Open That Bottle.

I started thinking about what to have for OTBN at least a few weeks ago, knowing that I would change my mind at least 37 times before actually pulling a cork. A…

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Wednesday’s Meritage – OTBN, #MWWC7 Time To Vote, The Art Of The Wine Label, State Liquor Law Changes and more

February 19, 2014 8 comments

Meritage Time!

I had to skip the wine quiz last Saturday, as we are taking family vacation during this week, so you can enjoy your quiz break too. Therefore, let’s go directly to the interesting stuff around vine and the web.

First and foremost – the upcoming Saturday, February 22nd, is Open That Bottle Night (OTBN). The concept of opening of that special bottle of wine  instead of hoarding it was invented by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, wine columnists for the Wall Street Journal – here is the link to one of the articles on the subject. The event is always taking place on the last Saturday in February – this is when you open and enjoy that special bottle of wine you were holding on to, not been able to find the right reason to pull the cork (or twist the top). As I think this is a great holiday for all oenophiles, I would like offer to you the following – if you open that special bottle of wine, will write the blog post about it and send me the link (through e-mail, comment or twitter), I will gladly re-blog it in my blog, and I will also add the link to the permanent page dedicated to the OTBN. So, what are you going to open?

Next up – #MWWC7 just concluded. The theme of Devotion was definitely challenging, but I think it led to the number of great entries. Here is the link to the SAHMMelier’s blog post, where you can see the list of all entries, and most importantly now, take a vote! Don’t miss it!

Have you heard of Sine Qua Non, the cult winery in California, making unique wines which are impossible to get? Did you know that every vintage of every wine produced by Sine Qua Non is released under a different label? And also each and every label is essentially the work of art, created by Manfred Krankl, the winemaker and owner at Sine Qua Non. To read more about these labels and Sine Qua Non wines, here is a link to the very interesting article at Wine Spectator – I highly recommend that you will read it.

I would assume that you know (or at least you know now) that States of the United States are in charge of individual laws regarding alcohol sales and distribution in those states. This leads to the situation where people’s access to alcohol in the neighboring states can be dramatically different (for instance, until recently, sales of alcohol were prohibited on Sundays in Connecticut – as the result, the people had to take their dollars to the neighboring New York state). The good thing is that in many states, the state laws are slowly changing to the benefit of the wine consumers (don’t take it for granted – some states are still trying to change it around and backwards). Here is a very interesting article from the Wine Business publication, where you can learn about some of those changes in the works.

Before we part, I want to bring to your attention two more articles on the subject of Italian wines, both are quite controversial. Ten years ago, the movie called Mondovino made Michele Roland and Robert Parker quite upset. Now, the new movie called “Natural Resistance”, made by the same Director Jonathan Nossiter, is talking about natural wines in Italy, also taking an aim at the Italian DOC system and overall approach to quality – here is the link to the article on the wine-searcher where you can get more details.

It turns out that people at Gambero Rosso, one of the leading Italian wine rating publications, are not the big fans of the natural wines. A blanket statement about “natural wines been bad wines which will give you a headache” doesn’t sound right coming from the organization which should simply embrace and promote best Italian wines. So it is not surprising that Italian natural wine producers have an issue with Gambero Rosso – for more details, here is the link to the wine-searcher article.

That’s all I have for you for today, folks. The glass is empty – but the refill is on its way. Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, #MWWC7 12 days left, Don’t Forget OTBN, How Much Would You Pay For A Cocktail?

February 5, 2014 7 comments

Meritage time!

First, let’s start with the answer for the Wine Quiz #91, grape trivia – Cinsault. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about the red grape called Cinsault (it is Cinsaut for French-proper). Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Name 3 grapes, traditional blending partners of Cinsault in Provençal Rosé

A1: When it comes to Provençal Rosé, Carignan, Grenache and Mourvèdre are most often blended with Cinsault.

Q2: In which US state the history of winemaking is associated with Cinsault?

a. Oregon, b. Texas, c. Virginia, d. Washington

A2: Interestingly enough,  early history of winemaking in Washington is associated with Cinsault, which was introduced in the Walla Walla region by Italian immigrants.

Q3: The oldest continuously producing Cinsault vineyard in the world is located in:

a. Algeria, b. France, c. South Africa, d. United States

A3: It was recently discovered that the small vineyard in California is actually the oldest continuously producing planting of Cinsault, and was planted in 1885. For more information, here is an interesting article by W. Blake Gray.

Q4: True or False: Cinsault is one of the 30 most planted grapes in the world

A4: True. According to the statistics of 2010, Cinsault was 25th most planted grape in the world with slightly less than 50,000 acres planted worldwide.

Q5: Considering Cinsault plantings worldwide, sort the countries below from the largest area plantings to the lowest:

a. Algeria, b. France, c. Morocco, d. South Africa

A5: France (about 20,000 acres), Algeria (about 7,500 acres), Morocco (about 3,500 acres), South Africa (about 2,000 acres).

Talking about the results, somehow this quiz had very low participation – may be the subject of somewhat obscure grape, may be the snow, but something got in the way of hundreds of people who I know wanted to play. Anyway, there is a next time for everything. But – one person attempted to solve the quiz, so I would like to acknowledge Suzanne of apuginthekitchen, as this also was her first participation in the wine quizzes here – well done!

And now, to the interesting news around the vine and the web!

First, I would like to remind everybody that the deadline for #MWWC7 is rapidly approaching – only 12 days are left until the deadline. Are you devoted to wine something or someone? Get your passion flowing, devote some time, pour yourself a glass of wine (want a “brute force” solution? find the bottle of Dowsett Family Wines Devotion Red and just do the review), but really, it is time to get more devoted to the #MWWC7. For all rules and regulations, please check SAHMMelier’s blog post.

Do you know what OTBN stands for? Need another two seconds? Okay. OTBN stands for Open That Bottle Night – the movement started by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, brilliant wine columnists writing the wine column for Wall Street Journal for many years. The idea of OTBN is that all of us have our “special bottle(s)” waiting for the special moment(s) to be open. And for the sake of the wine – and our own sake – in many cases it is better for the wine and for the people to have that special bottle opened rather sooner than later. OTBN is meant to encourage people to open and enjoy that special bottle. OTBN is celebrated during the last Saturday of February, thus OTBN 2014 will be taking place on February 22nd  – here you can find the full calendar of all past OTBN events. Start thinking about that special bottle of wine you will open – that is definitely a fun part of the experience.

Quick question – how much are you willing to pay for the cocktail? Okay, $11.95, of course. What are you saying? You can sometimes splurge the whole $30, especially if you are in the best New York hotel? Okay, sure, make sense. So, how about $50,000? Shocked? Absurd, you are saying? Yes, I’m with you – it is an absurd all the way if you ask me, but apparently someone found it quite palatable to pay $50K for the diamond studded glass filled with Hennessy Richard (most exquisite cognac made by Hennessy). I wonder if he got to keep the glass… Hope he did. To make it more fun, before you read the story, try to think about the place (city?) in the world where someone will pay $50K for the cocktail. Here is the link to the article about that $50K extravaganza.

That’s all I have for you for today. The glass is empty – but the refill is on its way. Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, OTBN, WTSO Marathon and more

February 13, 2013 9 comments

Inniskillin Cab Franc Ice WineMeritage Time!

Let’s start from the answer for the Wine Quiz #47, Frost and Grapes. The quiz was about Icewines, and you had to answer four questions in that quiz:

1. Briefly explain what Icewines are, including required conditions for harvesting of the grapes.

2. Which country is the biggest producer of the Icewine? As a bonus question, narrow it down to the specific region in that country.

3. Name two most popular white grape varieties for production of the Icewine.

4. Name the winery which pioneered Icewines made from the red grapes. Name that grape as well.

I’m happy to report that Wine and History, VinoInLove and The Winegetter all correctly answered first three questions (quick recap: Icewine is made out of the grapes which freeze on the vine and temperature reaching -7C or -8C depending on the region; leading Icewine world producing region is Canada, and then Ontario produces about 70% of Icewine in Canada ; Riesling and Vidal are two of the most popular white grape varietals used for Icewine).

With question #4, I dug myself a hole I promised not to get into many times before – all the questions about “pioneers” and “firsts” have lots of competing claims and no conclusive and confident assessments from the trustworthy sources. Thus the pioneering portion of the question will be left outside of assessing results of this quiz, and we will only take the grape variety, which is Cabernet Franc. Just as a side note, based on my search, the pioneering winery is either Pelee Island or Inniskillin – you can find 2002 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine still available for purchase via Wine-Searcher, and 2002 Pelee Island Cabernet Franc won gold medal at one of the wine competitions in France according to the article on Wines Of Canada website.

And it means that both Wine and History and VinoInLove are the winners of the Wine Quiz #47 and they get unlimited bragging rights as a prize.

Now, to the news! First and foremost, OTBN is coming up very soon. Who knows what OTBN stands for, please raise your hands! Duh, I can’t see your hands. Okay, never mind. OTBN stands for “Open That Bottle Night”, and it is a special event created by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, a couple who wrote Wall Street Journal’s Tastings column for 12 years ( their column was my main reason to subscribe to The Journal – ever since they stopped writing it at the end of 2009, it never was the same). They started the OTBN events in the year 2000 with the purpose of giving people the reason to open that special bottle they had being holding onto. OTBN always takes place at the last Saturday in February. Thus this year OTBN will be falling on Saturday, February 23rd – and here is a great article from the Palate Press, talking about John and Dottie’s love story of 40 years and OTBN still going strong. Whatever your plans are for the February 23rd, don’t forget to open that special bottle,  and either leave a comment or write your own blog post about that special experience.

Now, value wine lovers, rejoice, and make room in your cellars (whatever you call “the cellar”) – WTSO Cheapskate Wednesday will be taking place on February 20th – get ready to go a bit crazy, if you want to put your hands on the good stuff. During last Cheapskate event WTSO sold 90+ different wines, in the total quantity of more than 72,000 bottles during the 18 hours – some of the wines only lasted one minute or so. Here are couple of most important points, taken from WTSO announcement:

  • Cheapskate Wednesday will run from 6am to midnight Eastern Time.
  • We will be posting offers every 15 minutes (or sooner if an item sells out).
  • Every item will be priced from $7.99 to $18.99
  • The only method of notification for EVERY item will be Twitter

Set your alarm clock and practice your mouse and keyboard skills, you will need them. Also make sure you have all the ordering information (including CC number) on file with WTSO – I didn’t, and I lost a few interesting wines while I was typing in my information.

And now for the “local news” – I will be on vacation next week! Which means that:

  • there will be no weekly wine quiz for the next two Saturdays
  • I will miss the Cheapskate Marathon
  • I will miss the OTBN event – so I will have to do my personal OTBN at one of the upcoming Saturdays
  • I (most likely) will not be able to reply to your comments and comment on your posts
  • But you will probably still see some posts from me, considering that scheduling will work well in WordPress

That’s all I have for you for today. The glass is empty. Until the next time – cheers!

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