Saturday, February 25, 2012

OTBN - Open That Bottle Night 2012

OTBN - Open That Bottle Night 2012

Still gathering pics - more to follow.

Its that time of year again - a highly anticipated annual event in the life of a wine-geek.No, its not the vintage viticulture milestones, the bud break, grape vine pruning, harvest picking, crush, blending, or the release party. Its OTBN - Open That Bottle Night. Great fun, food, friends and of course, great wine in our OTBN 2012! See feature from OTBN 2011.

Credit (or blame) for this annual wine bachanalia goes to Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, wine columnists for the Wall Street Journal. OTBN - Open That Bottle Night, was conceived for those that have a special bottle of wine or champagne hidden away being saved for a special occasion that for whatever reason hasn't happened.  Every year since 2000, on the last Saturday night in February, Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) has been celebrated - the time to uncork and enjoy that cherished but here-to-for elusive bottle. OTBN was conceived by Gaiter and Brecher to say, what the heck, go for it, Open That Bottle (to)Night. They realized they weren't alone - having that special bottle set aside for an occasion that just never happens. On this night, you don't need an excuse or a reason - just do it! Take advantage of OTBN to open that bottle and enjoy it! Enjoy it by yourself, or better yet, enjoy it with someone special, or even better, with a group of special friends. Have everyone bring such a bottle and let the story telling begin, because amazingly, every OTBN bottle has a story or some meaning, or not. What the heck, Open That Bottle (To) Night!. Let the fun begin. 

Linda did her usual masterful job of preparing a spectacular dinner - a selection of artisan cheeses including blue, 2 and 5 year aged cheddar, cranberry cheddar, cranberry almond cheddar, french baguette, assorted biscuits and crackers. Alongside were an assortment of cheese stuffed olives, pickles and medley of vegetables and fruits. Dinner began with caprese salad featuring beef-steak tomatoes, beef tenderloin, her unique baked corn casserole, twice baked potatoes, green beans followed by her sensational flowerless chocolate case with whipped cream and an assortment of fresh berries.  

Yikes, we woke up this morning and found all the lemon sorbet dishes in the freezer that we forgot to serve last night between courses.

I started the gala by revealing a gift wrapped box given to me fifteen years ago by a fellow wine aficionado that I summarily tucked away in the cellar. With much anticipation, I opened it tonight to reveal a  magnum of Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne. Thankfully it wasn't cheese!

Dr Dan presented three wines, Iron Horse Sonoma County Green Valley Thomas Road Vineyard Pinot Noir 1998, Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, and a 'mystery 'bottle - the inaugural release of a special Italian varietal production by a personal friend. It was surprisingly good for something bottled just three weeks ago!

Bill and Beth brought the spectacular Wine Spectator Wine of the Year for 1999, the 1996 vintage Chateau St Jean Cinq Cepages Cabernet Sauvignon. He also provided a Tobin James "Liquid Love" Late Harvest Zinfandel Paso Robles 2005 desert wine. Beth brought some additional artisan cheeses befitting the medley of dessert wines as well as the big cabs and cab based Bordeaux.

I chipped in a Cinq Cepages 1994 to taste off against the legendary 1996 for comparison.

Ernie presented two left Bank Bordeaux - 1996 Chateau Lafon Rochet St Estephe and Chateau Les Fort Latour, Pauillac from the spectacular 2000 vintage.

Ryan & Michelle brought 2008 Bordeaux commemorating their anniversary year - Chateau Brane Cantenac Margaux and Chateau Pichon Baron Pauillac. They also brought a Robert Craig Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 for us to taste and extend our horizontal collection that dates back to the inaugural release 2003.

Lyle and Terry brought a legendary 98 point port - Niepoort Porto 1997, and an accompanying ever popular and one of Linda's favorites, Thorne Clark Shotfire Shiraz 2006. To complement the port, Terry provided artisan gorgonzola and cranberry stilton cheeses and fine dark chocolates.  

Sara added a chocolate infused desert wine from Vienna, Illinois, "Voyage into Night" from Shawnee Wines from near the Shawnee National Forest down near Carbondale.

I opened two of the classic and ever-popular TBA - Trockenberenauslese Austrian wines from Kracher, from the 1998 vintage, the classic Kracher Scheurebe TBA #12 Zwischen den Seen 1998   and  Alois Kracher Chardonnay/Welschriesling TBA #7 Nouvelle Vague 1998

Matt C (posing behind magnum below) opened a wonderful Robert Craig Napa Valley Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1996.

Two other 'what-the-heck, Open That Bottle (To)Night wines were ... 

Also attending were Johnny, Erin, Lucy and Jared G, and dropping in, passing through were Sean and Megan. 

Finally, this was the first gathering of the Chicago Wine Spectator Grand Tour group since that event last spring, excepting Eric who unfortunately could not attend due to a Board meeting commitment in Las Vegas. However, to attend and participate in spirit, Eric sent in a very special commemorative bottle as the ultimate artifact befitting the OTBN occasion, a non-vintage select bottle of Monto Rosso that he was able to acquire at a special benefit fund raising auction. Since Eric and Cathy could not attend in person and share in this special selection, we're saving for a future time when we can all gather together and partake of this special bottle. 
Stay tuned for more highlights and postings from OTBN 2012. Share your experience below.

See Bill's report at