Sunday, March 5, 2017

OTBN 2017

OTBN - Open That Bottle Night 2017

Our 'pour boys' wine group gathered for the 2017 17th annual "OTBN" wine celebration. OTBN stands for Open That Bottle Night, the annual wine event for collectors and oenophile wine enthusiasts to pull that special bottle being held in the cellar for an occasion whose time has not yet come. So once a year, what the heck, OTBN - open that bottle (to)night. Typically held on the last Saturday of February, this years bacchanalia was postponed a week due to members' travels. Once again, the event provided a wonderful gathering, great food, fellowship, and of course, some extraordinary wines. We missed regular attendees Bill and Beth and toasted them as they sit down on the South Carolina shore.

We started with a course of artisan cheeses, fresh fruits, crab dip and fresh shrimp cocktail to kick off the evening with a hearty vintage Champagne Celebris Gosset 2002 brought by John. The cheese course consisted of gouda, swiss, Danish Maytag Blue, Bellavitano Merlot, parmigiana, and capped of by a extraordinary 19 year old vintage sharp cheddar, also brought by John. Following was a wonderful Peter Michael Chardonnay brought by Ernie. These also lead in to the salad course.

Celebris Gosset Vintage Extra Brut Champagne 2002

Celebris is the flagship prestige cuvée of the Gosset Champagne house named, inspired by Albert Gosset, the 15th generation patriarch (1915-1991) and developed  by cellarmaster Jean-Pierre Mareigner in 1993. The first release of Celebris appeared in 1995, consisting of the 1988 vintage cuvée. The cuvée was designed to stand with the finest high-end champagnes in its class and showcase the best of the Gosset style - great aromatic complexity and beautiful finesse that could be paired with the most elaborate dishes.

The 2002 is 52% Chardonnay, 48% Pinot Noir from vineyards in Aÿ, Bouzy, Verzy, Chouilly and Cramant. It received 96 points from Vinous who described it as "vinous, fleshy and super-expressive with striking freshness, candied lemon peel, apricot jam, honey, mint, spices and sage in a compelling fabric of flavors and textures in a knock-out Champagne."

Wine Spectator and  James Suckling both gave it 94 points, Suckling noting "a deep, rich and toasty nose that has a wealth of cashewy, nutty aromas and dried lemon pith, nougat and bright dried cherry fruits ...  bold, assertive and full of flavor with really expansive orchard fruits."

Wine Spectator cited its lightly smoky finish.

Jancis Robinson noted it to be 'extremely dense and dry - most impressive, though verging on austere without anything to eat with it."

Jean-Pierre Mareigner, Cellarmaster wrote, “This is a champagne that was difficult to create. I selected contrasting villages in order to blend various personalities. I was looking for structure but also freshness. The final result is an exceptional cuvée.”

Varietal Composition: 52% Chardonnay, 48% Pinot Noir

Peter Michael La Carrière Sonoma County Knights Valley Chardonnay 2013

This was delightful, a memorable Chardonnay, ranking with the best of breed of this varietal, among the best, as good as any I have every tasted. Part of what makes it extraordinary in its subtlety with its unpretentious silky smooth, creamy texture and refined polished flavors of nut, peach, mineral and hints of butterscotch.

RM 93 points.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave it 98 points calling it "unbelievable".

James Suckling gave it 96 points citing its "concentration of honeysuckle, orange marmalade, white currant, white peach and mineral notes."

Wine Spectator gave it 93 points and called it "Complex and subtle' describing it as 'dried pineapple, apple, lime pie and hints of nuts ... hints of cream ..... full body, dense center palate."

We pivoted to the dinner and red wine flight with this soft smooth elegant Pinot Noir.

Belle Glos Dairyman Vineyard Sonoma County Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2011

Lyle bought this Belle Glos, named for Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, co-founder of legendary Napa Valley Caymus Vineyards and grandmother of Belle Glos owner/winemaker, Joe Wagner, mother of Caymus owner/winemaker Chuck Wagner.

Belle Glos produces four single vineyard designated select Pinot Noirs, each representing the distinctive character and terroir of their disparate locations.

This label features fruit sourced from the Dairyman Vineyard located in the Sonoma County Russian River Valley. The proximity to the Pacific Ocean subjects it to cool morning fog and afternoon coastal breezes that prolong the growing season resulting in small, concentrated and flavorful berries with bright cherry characteristics, brown spices, and a minerality that gives a rich, velvety mouth feel. The vineyard is named for its history as an old dairy farm where the pastureland was planted to Dijon clone Pinot Noir in 2000

This was actually rather full bodied and bold for a Sonoma County Pinot Noir, dark ruby colored, complex, with spicy dark and red berry fruits, dusty rose, hints of cedar and cinnamon on a tangy rather firm finish.
RM 91 points.

Moving to the dinner course, Linda prepared her beef tenderloin (shown below), with roasted potatoes, brussel spouts and green beans. With the entree course we featured three Bordeaux varietal blends, a mini-vertical tasting of two vintages of this unique California label and a left bank Bordeaux. I had already selected and opened this Ridge Monte Bello 1998 when John showed up with the 1993 release of the same wine. We couldn't have planned this any better!

I wrote in depth about the Ridge Monte Bello vineyards and estate in a tasting journal last year

Monte Bello is the unique flagship label of this prolific producer known for a broad line of vineyard select Zinfandels from throughout Northern California  including Sonoma and Napa Counties. Monte Bello is unique not only that it is a Ridge produced Bordeaux blend, but also because it is sourced from fruit from the Monte Bello vineyard, high atop the Santa Cruz mountains that separate Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay to the east and north, from the Pacific Ocean and the Monterey Bay/Peninsula to the west and south.

This is especially notable to us since it is closest to, yet high above the location of our home from when we lived in Saratoga, California, nestled up against the Santa Cruz mountain range down at the bottom of Silicon Valley, near the crease where the road leads up into the mountains and over 'the hill' down to Santa Cruz on the Pacific coast.

This is a contrast in two vintages, from the somewhat maligned and challenged 1998 vintage, while five years younger than the '93 above, it is starting to show its age a bit while the 93 seems vibrant and full of life.

Ridge Vineyards "Monte Bello" Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon 1993

This was amazing in its graceful elegant, almost delicate floral tones, complex yet smooth and polished with layers of soft black raspberry and black currant fruits with subtle tones of vanilla, anise, and hint of  graphite on a silky tannin finish.

The blend is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 7% Petiti Verdot. 

RM 92 points

Ridge Vineyards "Monte Bello" Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon 1998

The 1998 Monte Bello is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc.

Consistent with last tasting notes, two years ago, almost to the date, dark purple garnet colored, medium to full bodied, initially a bit obtuse and acidic, but softened and opened after decanting and sitting for an hour, full, moderately expressive black berry and plum fruits, complex, accented by subtle tones of  pencil shavings, tobacco leaf, violets, and hints of bell pepper and anise with moderate smooth silky tannins on the finish. It would be overstated to characterize it as 'earthy' but there is a layer of complexity that reflects the storied terroir and reveals the care of 47% selection and the rigorous thinning that results in extremely selective, low yields of less than 1 1/2 tons per acre.

RM 90 points.

Château Lanessan Haut-Medoc Bordeaux 1995 

Ernie brought this left bank Bordeaux.

Dark blackish garnet colored, medium-full bodied, this was firm and a bit tight with concentrated black berry fruits, a layer of smoke and anise accented by hints of creosote, graphite and black tea on the lingering moderate tannin finish.

RM 89 points.

Domaine Font de Michelle Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Etienne Gonnet 2004

Dan brought this CDP that comes from the area known as La Crau, also known for the popular Chateau Vieux Telegraph. This is a blend of 65-70% Grenache, 15-20% Syrah, and 15% Mourvèdre.

I think it is the Grenache predominance that comes through with its dark berry fruit, black tea notes and meaty tones, dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, concentrated spicy black berry fruits with hints of smoke and anise, with acidic tannins on the lingering finish.

RM 89 points.

Transitioning from the main course and entrees to the dessert flight, the perfect transition was this big bold bruising Syrah brought by Ryan. Dessert was Terry's decadent orange cake, Linda's delectable chocolate mousse, fresh whipped cream, fresh berries, and coffees.

Herman Story Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Vineyard Syrah 2013

This single vineyard designated label from the Bien Nacido Vineyard in the California Central Coast Santa Maria Valley.

This was an ideal pivot from the more complex blends suitable for the dinner entrees, to a narrower, more single dimensional, big violet muscular fruit bomb to accompany the dessert course of orange cake and dark chocolate mousse.

Dark inky purple, full bodied, big forward concentrated tongue coating, almost chewy, jammy berry compote of black and blue fruits, spicy notes, black olive and hints of dark mocha and black pepper on a mouth puckering finish.

RM 93 points.

Dow's Vintage Port 1977

Lyle brought this forty year old hold sipper that is still showing much life yet.
 Dark thick and syrupy, full bodied, essence of cognac laced black currants, stewed prunes, dried fig fruits with tones of expresso, anise and hint of kirsch on a tongue coated finish.

RM 92 points.

Château de Rayne-Vigneau Premier Grand Cru Classé de Sauternes -Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend 1988 

I initially pulled out a 1998 Sauterne to accompany the '98 tasted earlier but then found down in the cellar this '88 and opted for it instead. 

Château de Rayne-Vigneau is ranked as Premier Cru Classé (French, “First Growth”), 1er Grand Cru Classé Sauternes. The château lies at the center of a single block vineyard of 207 acres. The vines are an average of 30 years old, divided between 74% Sémillon, 24% Sauvignon Blanc, and 2% Muscadelle.

At almost thirty years of age, this was surprisingly youthful, straw colored, medium-full bodied, tones of tangy citrus with bright acidity, tongue coating sweet fruits, roasted nuts and hints of smoke.

The contributors and their wines ...