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Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Robin Garr » Thu Feb 01, 2018 12:00 am

A wine-geek tradition since 2000, Open That Bottle Night has become an annual observance since Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, the couple who wrote the Wall Street Journal‘s “Tastings” column from 1998 through 2010, came up with the idea 17 years ago.

The concept is simple, and it is too good to let die just because the column has ended: Set an annual day – the last Saturday of February, the 24th this year – for an informal “world-wide celebration of friends, family and memories during which all of us finally drink that wine that is otherwise simply too special to open.”

We like the idea so much around here that we've started designating the entire month of February as Open That Bottle Month. Find those dusty orphans, those bottles that seem too good to open until a special night that may never happen, and OPEN THEM RIGHT NOW! And then tell us about the experience.
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Bob Parsons Alberta

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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:37 am

Sounds like a terrific idea as quite a few of us have some 'gems" put aside. Some elderly claret, fabulous Rieslings, old Loire whites (Huet), some reds from Languedoc that should be opened to see how they are developing. Bring it on!
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Jenise » Thu Feb 01, 2018 2:17 pm

A minor correction: it's the 23rd, not 24th. I don't usually have a good handle on dates, but I do happen to be sure that on Sunday the 24th I have tickets to see Hamilton!!!!!!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Robin Garr » Thu Feb 01, 2018 2:19 pm

Jenise wrote:A minor correction: it's the 23rd, not 24th. I don't usually have a good handle on dates, but I do happen to be sure that on Sunday the 24th I have tickets to see Hamilton!!!!!!

Wow! Envy!

And yes, I glanced at Google Calendar on the desktop and obviously didn't look all the way to the right. :)

I'll correct it.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Robin Garr » Thu Feb 01, 2018 2:23 pm

Jenise wrote:A minor correction: it's the 23rd, not 24th. I don't usually have a good handle on dates, but I do happen to be sure that on Sunday the 24th I have tickets to see Hamilton!!!!!!

No, wait! Sunday is the 25th! You'd better make sure you don't have counterfeit tickets! :shock:
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Robin Garr » Thu Feb 01, 2018 2:27 pm

Feb2018.jpg
February 2018
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Jenise » Thu Feb 01, 2018 2:33 pm

Ruh roh.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:59 am

2012 L`Ormarins Blanc de Blanc , S Africa.

I have been keen to open this after cellaring for 2 yrs. 100 % Chardonnay, $38 Cdn. Sampled at a previous rep tasting and I was very impressed. I am not a big bubbly fan but would buy this again if at a better price!
Pale straw color, small busy bubbles. Pear on the nose with some mineral tones and hint of citrus. Distinct chard flavors on entry, lime, more pear, dryish. Some serious juice here and went well with some Thai shrimp and avocado rolls and crispy chicken with green onion.
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David M. Bueker

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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:52 pm

2001 Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile Vendange Tardive - France, Alsace (2/5/2018)
I never know when to open these wines. They work very well with the foods I enjoy, but somehow feel too special. But hey it’s Monday night, and I’m finally not sick, so what the heck. Crisp peach, botrytis spice and a smooth, immeasurably long finish make me glad I opened it. Sixteen years after the vintage it is just getting towards maturity, with a long future ahead.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Robin Garr » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:11 pm

This came in from California Wine Club's International Selections in 2013, and I figured a Ripasso would need more time. So I put it away and forgot it. Open That Bottle Month led me to it last night, and I think it was worth the wait.

Monte del Frá 2009 "Tenuta Lena di Mezzo" Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso

A typical Valpolicella blend of Corvina Veronese, Corvinone and Rondinella, this sturdy red wine is a clear, dark ruby color, with glints of bronze at the edge. Spicy dried cherries and a hint of anise show in the aroma, adding black plums and a whiff of tobacco leaf on the palate. It's ripe and mouth-filling, dried-cherry flavors wrapped up in bright, palate-cleansing acidity, with a bold 14 percent alcohol and some tannic astringency remaining. Although it's nine years past the vintage, Ripasso is a slow process, and it didn't arrive here until the summer of 2013, so it's been on a wine rack in a cool place for less than five years, not an outlandish time span. The natural cork remained clean, hard and firm, and the wine is holding up well. U.S. importer: Votto Wines Importing, Hamden, Conn. (Feb. 8, 2018)

FOOD MATCH: This powerful, intense red really calls for beef or game, although a meatless match could be made with a full-flavored tomato sauce over pasta, or cheese and bean dishes. The distributor suggests pairing it with roasts, stews or braised meats and with hard cheeses.

WHEN TO DRINK: Not so old for a Ripasso, this one still has plenty of time left, assuming good cellar conditions.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by David M. Bueker » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:57 pm

Vintage Vilmart Rosé is rare and pricey. It’s also delicious.

2004 Vilmart & Cie Champagne Grand Cellier Rubis - France, Champagne (2/10/2018)
First bottle of this was five years ago. Time has been kind. Fresh bread notes have supplemented the red fruit, while the racy acidity has held firm, making the overall impression quite thrilling. It is still quite youthful, but I like the balance now, so am glad to have opened my last bottle.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Rahsaan » Sun Feb 11, 2018 12:52 pm

1999 Chandon de Briailles PV Île des Vergelesses
Around 10 years ago I bought 3 bottles of this at retail. I've long debated when to open one, and finally got around to giving myself an excuse. All the better because I was glad that I did. After double decanting (minimal sediment) it starts off a bit tight and tart, but quickly reveals sweet aging fruit, depth and layers of silky tannin that continue building over many hours.

No idea how 'perfect' bottles would show (I can't account for the first ten years of its life), but I was happy that no major flaws/heat damage were evident. And, for my palate, I may drink the next bottles sooner rather than later. Because I'm still the guy who enjoys the texture of resolved wines with flavors that are still recognizably from the cépage. And while there is plenty of room for this to evolve texturally, I fear I may not enjoy the further flavor evolution as much.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by David M. Bueker » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:13 pm

There’s a bottle of 2008 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo ready to go when my dinner is ready.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by David M. Bueker » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:28 pm

2008 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo (2/11/2018)
This was an impulsive opening. I knew I should not have done it, but did it anyway. It was certainly tannic, the back end was more than a little austere and drying, but the aromatics kept pulling me back in. Red fruit, flowers, tar, herbs, earth, and a finishing hint of licorice made a very interesting and inviting tableau. The fruit carried into the mid palate, until it was buried under the wave of tannin. It was worth opening for the aromatics, but my remaining bottles will sleep for a long while.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Jim Grow » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:10 pm

I have been holding on to a bottle of Vilmart NV Grand Cellier Champagne for at least 12+ years and today seemed like a fine opportunity (Valentines Day) to open it with king crab, toss salad with Danish Blue cheese and garlic bread. The code on the label was L236 and I e-mailed Skurnik, the importer, asking about just how old that code meant the wine was. No reply. By the looks of the wine it was quite old. Deep golden in color with little/no expansion of the cork and a moderate froth, the flavors were oldish also with quite a bit of lacquer note and yeastiness and just a bit of bakery dough note. From a previous inquery I wrote on the bottle that the blend was 70% Chardonnay and the rest Pinot Noir. 12% abv and very enjoyable but maybe a tad past prime. I love oldish Champagne and opened a 1996 Lenoble at MoCool a couple years ago that was fabulous but this was not that.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Jim Grow » Thu Feb 15, 2018 10:02 am

BTW; the king crab was from Russian waters and the best, freshest and tastiest we have ever had. Gotta love those Ruskies!
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Rahsaan » Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:51 pm

Jim Grow wrote:BTW; the king crab was from Russian waters and the best, freshest and tastiest we have ever had. Gotta love those Ruskies!


One of my best food experiences was eating fresh boiled crab on the beach in Hokkaido, looking out at Russia in the (unseeable) distance. Those are good waters up there!
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Jim Grow » Thu Feb 15, 2018 2:58 pm

Although the king crab was great I have always wished I could taste fresh KC but that is near impossible as they are quick-frozen on the boat I believe.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Tristan B » Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:40 pm

I just got some new bottles, one 2011 Xavier Vignon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Anonyme X and a Cusumano Noa 2014. Which one should I enjoy first? :D
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:36 pm

Sipping on a bottle of Grand Cru Chablis for a weeknight dinner, because WTF.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Jenise » Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:10 pm

Jim Grow wrote:Although the king crab was great I have always wished I could taste fresh KC but that is near impossible as they are quick-frozen on the boat I believe.


Chinese seafood restaurants are getting them in now for their live tanks. Of course, would require you live in a place with that kind of higher end Chinese restaurant.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Jenise » Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:16 pm

We had a few neighbors over for an early OTBN last night.

2006 Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry Reserve Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend more
Mostly red fruit and vanilla, generously oaked with no noticable tannins. Smooth--too smooth in fact. Drink up.

1999 Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon Dedication Series Columbia Valley
My contribution and a superb bottle: cassis, huckleberry and graphite with a hint of mint and dark chocolate. Incredibly youthful. Continues to be IMO one of the best Washington wines ever made.

NV Ensemble Cellars Release Number Six Walla Walla Valley Red Bordeaux Blend
Absolutely gorgeous. A multi-vintage blend of 07, 08 an 09, it has beautiful perfumed aromatics and a silky mouthfeel. Drinks well now but could reward more patience.

2012 Montes Alpha M Colchagua Valley Red Bordeaux Blend
Cassis, eucalyptus and some sharp hints of green bell pepper. Very different from prior M's I've had. Needs a LOT more time.

1991 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Caldwell Vineyard Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend
Poured alongside a '95 Caymus SS. More necrotic than the Caymus (and possibly less well-stored), with more red fruit, baked yam and terra cotta notes. Also some bay leaf and candle wax. Good, but faulty. Contributed by the cardiologist up the street who bought a case to give away to partners and friends upon their retirements, saving the last bottle for his own. But then he moved from New Hampshire to Washington, and between that merriment and getting settled in here he just never quite got around to celebrating. A perfect OTBN wine.

1995 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection Napa Valley
Also mine. A Black fruit nose with pretty nuances of violet typical of the SS bottlings. Reasonable and integrated oak on the palate, complex mid-palate and lasting finish. A very well-preserved bottle, could drink well here for years. Also a perfect OTBN wine: I've been flying this bottle around the country for the last two years. Each time we've inexplicably ended up bringing it back home--it's time had come!
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by David M. Bueker » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:56 pm

I don’t generally drink Grand Cru Chablis during the week, but...

2014 Domaine Christian Moreau Père et Fils Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos - France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru (2/19/2018)
Bracing, with oyster shell, lemon peel and salt spray elements backed by vibrant acidity. Perfect to serve with a crab cake, and fascinating to follow on its own. I wish I had the courage to age some, but the specter of premox tells me to enjoy this beauty in all its youthful glory.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2018: Open That Bottle Month!

by Tim York » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:51 am

This is turning out not to be an ideal month for my OTB. I have a number of Bordeaux between 30 and 55 years old and Burgundies and Rhônes between 20 and 30, which could be candidates, but because of their age they mostly need to be drunk up in one sitting to avoid spoilage. As it happens Germaine is on a course of alcohol unfriendly medication and cannot play her part in emptying the bottle. Maybe it's my wartime upbringing ("think of the sailors who die trying to bring you food and finish what's on your plate!"), but it sticks in my craw to pour half a bottle of, say, Ducru-Beaucaillou '70 down the drain.

Here are two bottles on a slightly different theme.

The first is Proustian attempt to revive family memories through a wine loved by my parents. Not an entirely successful experiment because the wine's character has changed.

2011 Château Cantemerle - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc (2/3/2018)
I have affectionate memories of Cantemerle, which used to be a sort of house wine at my parents' place for "best" occasions. It was punching above its 5th growth weight in the 50s and 60s and I recall fragrant and elegant bottles in a rather lean style from vintages like 53, 59 and 66. This is my first "modern" bottle and I think it is definitely oakier than those in the past and perhaps a bit fatter. The first pour was rather subdued and short albeit pleasant but it really opened up and expanded with air showing medium body, attractively fragrant berry fruit, some refined minerals, fresh acidity and decent backbone as well as a mild creamy vanilla touch which may integrate more fully in time. Good.

The second consumed the next day demonstrates that regions despised a generation ago as producing no more than "country wines" can now trade punches successfully with GC Bordeaux.

2004 Philippe Alliet Chinon Coteau de Noiré - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon (2/4/2018)
This Chinon was definitely superior to yesterday's Cantemerle '11. It had the advantage of greater maturity but I don't see that Cantemerle ever equalling its robust medium+ body, purity and fragrance of its plum and raspberry tinged fruit, earthy minerals, leather hints and perfect oak integration, all enhanced by lively moreish acidity, backbone and good length. Leading Chinon (and Bourgueil & Saumur-Champigny) would IMO be high in a GCC class, if at Bordeaux. Very good.
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