Saturday, February 26, 2022

OTBN 2022 Charleston

Change of venue - rhythm as Pour Boys OTBN 2022 moves to Charleston

Our Pour Boys wine group convened for our annual homage to the vinous vinifera in the ritual that has come to be known as OTBN – Open That Bottle Night. In planning this year’s event, wisdom prevailed and we chose to adjust our rhythm and head south for the mid-winter event vs hosting the event in Chicago. We’ll then pivot to host the summer event, that we held last year in Florida, in Chicago, to align with the seasons.

In that regard, Bill and Beth C hosted OTBN at their home in Seabrook Island, SC. In the custom and spirit of OTBN, we Pour Boys, pull from our cellar collections bottles that we had been holding for a special occasion, whose time had not yet come. 

Alas, since 2000, OTBN – Open That Bottle (To) Night is for gathering and enjoying such bottles on the last Saturday night in February. 

We kicked off this years' OTBN 2022 Gala Weekend with tasting and dinner at Forty-Eight Wine Bar dinner last night at 48 Wine Bar

For the gala weekend, I selected and took from our cellar four vintage Cabernets, from select birthyears, or designated select producers, or single vineyards, and a twenty year old dessert wine from our cellar collection.

As I wrote in my blogpost of last night's OTBN 22 Kick-off dinner at 48 Wine Bar,  our Pour Boys wine group convened for our annual homage to the vinous vinifera in the ritual that has come to be known as OTBN – Open That Bottle Night. In planning this year’s event, wisdom prevailed and we chose to adjust our rhythm and head south for the mid-winter event vs hosting the event in Chicago. We’ll then pivot to host the summer event, that we held last year in Florida, in Chicago, to align with the seasons. 

In that regard, Bill and Beth C graciously opened their home and hosted OTBN at their home in Seabrook Island, SC. In the custom and spirit of OTBN, we Pour Boys, pull from our cellar collections bottles that we had been holding for a special occasion, whose time had not yet come.

Since we traveled to what became a weekend getaway, our usual annual one-night dinner affair became a weekend of three tasting sessions.  

Last night, we kicked off the weekend with a perfect wine focused Kick-off dinner at 48 Wine Bar in Freshfields Village Kiawah, Island

Tonight, the last Saturday night in February is the customary anniversary date for this annual event. 

Our hosts, Bill and Beth, prepared a beef tenderloin dinner with twice baked potatoes, haricut verts, and Gloria's brussel sprouts and Dan's shrimp scampi.

Everyone brought a couple or several bottles for sharing during the weekend. As a result we had selected fourteen bottles to open and serve with the Saturday night dinner - two champagnes, ten reds, a port and a dessert wine. 

For the red wines, there was one Burgundy, one Argentinian red blend, seven Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons and a vintage port.

For the gala weekend, I selected four vintage Cabernets, from select birthyears, or designated select producers, or single vineyards, and a twenty year old dessert wine from our cellar collection.

We opened with a selection of artisan cheeses. 

For the initial courses, we had two vintage Champagnes - Bill opened a Taittinger Comtes Blanc de Blancs Champagne 2000, and Dan opened a Louis Roederer Cristal Vintage Champagne 2007

Dan prepared a sauteed shrimp scampi course that was complemented perfectly with these champagnes. 

As is the custom and in the spirit of OTBN - there were no rules or theme - bring a special bottle that has been waiting to be consumed. Hence we had some old and some new - a good mix for the adventurous old guys who are intrigued by an aged vintage label, and more youthful easier drinking more recent release wines. 

We opened a couple of the young big bold reds for the ladies to enjoy - and for the men too, of course, while at the same time, opening some of the 'suspect' wines to check out for appropriate placement in the tasting flight order. 

The order in which wines are tasted in a tasting flight is important to optimize the ability to discriminate between the wines and to maximize the enjoyment and appreciation of the wines. Each tasting of a set of diverse wines, we go through this ritual to taste each wine to determine its suitable sequence. Always start with the lighter and simpler wines first. A heavier or heartier wine will overpower lesser wines and you'll lose all sense of discrimination or calibration for them.

After the Champagnes, we pivoted to the red wines flight with the sole Burgundy (Pinot Noir), opening with a Louis Latour Romanee-Saint-Vivent Les Quatre Journaux Borgogne brought by Dan from his cellar. 

Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru "Les Quatre Journaux" 2003

The Latour family has been proprietors of a part of Romanée-Saint-Vivant since December 1898. "Les Quatre Journaux" is a magnificent plot of land situated at the South-West of Romanée Saint Vivant, a few meters from the legendary Romanée-Conti vineyard. Romanee Saint Vivant is separated into two parcels, Clos des Quatre Journaux and the northern plot. Louis Latour has the prime plot of Romanee St Vivant, a 0.8ha plot right below Romanee Conti.

A "Journal" is an old Burgundian measurement corresponding to approximately 0.4 hectares (34,28 ares). Even though the Latours' initial purchase carried the entirety of the plot, half of it was sold some years later. Today Maison Louis Latour owns 0.8 hectares of Romanée-Saint-Vivant. It producers a marvelously aromatic wine, with a velvety texture which culminates in a persistent and powerful finish in the mouth. It is one of the greatest red wines from the region. From the Region is Côte de Nuits, the Village Vosne-Romanée, in the Appellation Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru. As is the custom and specified varietal for the locale, the grape variety Pinot Noir.

Winemakers' tasting note - "This wine of great complexity reveals a superb spicy nose, expressing notes of liquorice, violet and red fruits. The amplitude of this wine unfolds on the palate highlighting its elegance and aromatic persistence. A harmonious wine combining soft tannins and a great earthiness."

At twenty years this is likely at the apex of its drinking window, not likely to improve with further aging, but capable of being at prime drinking for another decade or more. 

This label release was awarded 93 points by Allen Meadows - Burghoun, and 91 points by Wine Spectator who wrote "Lovely ripe black cherry and plum aromas and flavors mark this pure, silky red. It's very elegant, not that concentrated, but shows fine balance and length."

The Cellartracker average rating was 92 points.

Dalle Valle Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1989

I obtained a couple of these bottles years ago on release in anticipation of the vintage being significant for a celebration at some point. Indeed, this is fellow Pour Boy Bill and Beth’s son’s birthyear vintage. So, we have been holding several 1989 vintage labels expecting at some point we would open and share them together. Once again, this weekend, in the spirit and custom of OTBN, being hosted by Bill and Beth, I pulled two 1989 vintage bottles to share and enjoy. 

This turned out to be a bust - the disappointment of the evening/weekend. Perhaps it was due to bottle variation, or a bottle that had at some point been mishandled or tainted. Or, the wine was simply beyond its acceptable drinking window. We have another bottle of the same label from the same release which may determine whether this was or wasn't an anomaly. 

The next bottle was from the same varietal, region and vintage, and it was extraordinary. 

Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1989

Bill and we are both collectors of the Freemark Abbey portfolio of wines dating back several decades. Over the years, Bill has tended to acquired this single vineyard designated label from the Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard, while I tended to acquired their Bosche Vineyard label. So, it was fitting that for OTBN, hosted by Bill and Beth, that I bring this Sycamore Vineyard 1989 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This was also relevant as it a birthyear vintage wine for their son, Matt.

We’ve enjoyed many vintages of this label together over the years including an earlier tasting together, the post repeated below. We've visited the winery together on several occasions including a library cellar tour back in 2009.

Primary Vineyard: Sycamore Vineyard—Rutherford (100%): Small 24-acre vineyard located about 1.2 miles south of Bosche, right up against the Mayacamas Range, this vineyard has a rich clay loam. Sycamore Vineyard produces small berries reminiscent of mountain fruit berries, with intense extract of color and flavor. The color is very dark early in the fermentation, with flavors of black currant and black berry with a forest floor complexity.

Winemaker's notes - "The nose opens with aromas of blackberry, blueberry, black current and boysenberry.  The fruit elements are complimented with notes of forest floor, cigar box, dark chocolate and espresso.  The wine is rich and balanced and French oak barrels add the ideal amount of complexity with notes of baking spice and warm vanilla.  This is a full-bodied wine with integrated tannins that give it a long, lingering finish.  Stunning. Life span in a proper cellar 20-30 years."

This is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

This was in remarkable, perfect condition - by every measure - the fill level, tissue, label, foil, and importantly, the cork - were all in best possible, near perfect condition. 

My winesite postings of previous tastings of this label, pre-this blog - the previous tasting was also with Bill and Beth when we did a mini-vertical of three vintages of this label with two of their son's.

Jan 21, 2006 - Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1989 and 1997; 1989 - From Rick's cellar - RM 88 - Full firm - dark berry and black cherry fruit, earthy and slight wood flavor. 1997 From Bill's cellar - RM 91 - Full bodied and firm but nicely balanced, still slightly closed, full dark berry fruit, hint of currant and cherry with smooth tannins. Tasted w/ Bill & Beth C, w/ Drew, Matt and L with fabulous beef tenderloin dinner.

Nov 23, 2004 - Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Sycamore Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 1989 - WS 88 RM 87 WS Review says it well - Dark, firm and structured, with more richness, depth and flavor than the Bosché Vineyard. Shows off mature spice, currant, cedar and cherry flavors that are long and complex. Impressive.--1989 California Cabernet retrospective. Drink now. 3,050 cases made. (JL)

The current release 2017, producer's page for this label:

The blend for this label is typically about 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Merlot (2017 vintage example).

Another one of my contributions - another Napa Cabernet, since Bill and I are both fans and worshippers of the famous Tokalon Beskstoffer Vineyard in Napa Valley. 

Indeed, we’ve collected, and consumed numerous vineyard designated wines sourced from this legendary site. Moreover, Bill and Beth have had the pleasure of staying on the property in a residence of one of their son’ Will’s colleagues. So, I pulled this special label to share and enjoy with them as part of this year’s OTBN celebration.

Delectus Tokalon Beckstoffer Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

Beckstoffer’s Georges III vineyard has a long and storied history.  Records show that grapes were first planted here in 1895 by Napa Valley Pioneer Thomas Rutherford, Mrs. Thomas Rutherford was  granddaughter of Napa Valley’s pioneering vigneron George C. Yount.  

In 1928, the 300-acre parcel was purchased by Beaulieu founder Georges de Latour, becoming the source of the legendary Rutherford Cabernets made by Beaulieu’s famous winemaker André Tchelistcheff.  These BV Rutherford Cabernets achieved wide acclaim beginning in the 1940s and established Beaulieu Vineyard’s pre-eminence in the making of fine, world-class Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Beckstoffer Vineyards owns and farms more than 3,600 acres of highly prestigious grape growing vineyards in Napa Valley, Mendocino County and the Red Hills of Lake County. A senior executive with Heublein in the 1960s, Andy Beckstoffer is credited with steering Napa Valley vintners towards improving farming and the quality of the grapes used for wine. Grapes from any Beckstoffer vineyards are considered among the finest available in California.

Beckstoffer Vineyards purchased the site in 1988 and meticulously replanted it with new Cabernet Sauvignon clones, using tighter vine spacing and advanced trellising systems to enhance both fruit quality and quantity.  
Today, the Beckstoffer vineyard has a plantable area of 251 acres, its vines growing in prime ‘Rutherford dust’ – the gravelly, loamy soils derived from the alluvial sandstone bedrock that is the hallmark of this part of Napa Valley.  Lying low on the valley floor, Georges III vineyard benefits from the Rutherford Bench, a strip of land near Napa River and Conn Creek where pockets of clay beneath the old creek-bed soils giving the vines better water access. Combined with excellent western exposure and the cooling morning mists, fruit ripens slowly and steadily here, producing grapes of immense finesse and character. 
Delectus produce limited small quantity wines handcrafted from select vineyards throughout Napa Valley. They focus on Bordeaux reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot and strive to produce wines that are balanced, distinctive and age-worthy.  Over the years they have received high scores and praise from wine critics. They pride themselves in producing 'bold and assertive, expressive red wines that never compromise the art of winemaking'. 

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate wrote, "The 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Vineyard George III is a complex offering, exhibiting spice box, cedar, coffee bean, and black currants in its medium to full-bodied, ripe yet soft, fleshy personality." 

This was holding its own at 25 years, showing no diminution from age, probably at peak now and should hold for a couple more years, but not likley to improve further. The fill level, label, foil and ork were all in ideal condition for their age. Time to drink - an classic OTBN selection.

The bottle was packaged with the dipped wax capsule which was rather rare back in those days, used by Randy Dunn's Howell Mountain Cab, which we also opened tonight, but few others.

Garnet colored, medium bodied, black berry and black cherry fruits with earthy leather, tobacco and licorice with tangy acidity on the finish. 

RM 89 points.

Bob brought two very interesting bottles - a unique blend from Argentina, Vistalba, and a ultrapremium surprise label from Napa Valley - Beau Vigne Juliet.

Bodega Vistalba Corte A Rare Red Blend 2016 

Bob and Gloria came in from Delray Beach for the wine weekend. 

Bob brought this bottle back from a trip to the region - a gift from his colleague there, who said it was one of his favorites. 

This is from the Finca Vistalba High Mendoza river basin, in the Luján de Cuyo region in Mendoza, Argentina. Vistalba’s vineyards, planted in 1948, sit at an impressive 980 metres above sea level where conditions are ideal for producing smooth, well-rounded reds thanks to the sunny days and cooler nights. The terroir is well-drained silt loam soil with medium to low fertility and low content of organic material, with climate of harsh winters and warm summers with mild or warm days and very cold nights. The broad daily temperature range (15°C/59°F) to which vines are exposed during their vegetative growth favors color development and tannin production.

This is a unique blend of 54% Malbec, 30% Bonarda and 16% Cabernet Sauvignon.  

None of us had ever heard of or experienced Bonarda. It apparently added a layer of sweetness to blend.

Bonarda from Argentina is not the same wine as Italian Bonarda. It is actually from France where is known as Charbono, identical to a grape found in old vineyards in Napa, also under the name Charbono. Argentina’s Bonarda is actually a grape called Douce Noir (“doose nwar”). 

Bonarda wines from Argentina are very fruity on the nose, with notes of black cherry compote, fresh blueberry, and plum. They can be complex, giving off nuanced aromas of violets, 5-spice, allspice, and peonies. They may have slight smoky notes of cigar box, sweet figs, and chocolate. 

Bonarda is known to add fruitiness, a medium-body, juicy acidity, and a smooth, low-tannin finish. It is said to taste like an exotic Merlot and it’s just as easy to drink. Hence, it is fitting that it is included in a Bordeaux varietal blend.

The 2016 Vintage was rated 89 points by Wine Enthusiast. "Tarry black fruit and black olive aromas include barrel spice, graphite and gritty notes. On the palate, this Malbec blend feels lively but raw and grating, likely a reflection of 2016's rainy conditions. Salty berry flavors are fully oaked, while this feels tannic and grabby on a finish that tastes saucy and savory."

This was aged 20% on french oak for 18 months and stored in the bottle for 6 months before being released to the market. 

Winemaker notes: "Inky purple color with a dark core. Aromas of mineral violets asian spices and assorted black and blue fruits set the stage for a dense structured savory and impeccably balanced wine that will benefit from another 3-4 years of cellaring to reveal its full potential." – Bodega Vistalba

This was packaged in a large heavy oversized bottle, almost akin to a magnum. I show it next to the Beau Vigne, packaged in a 'regualar' standard sized 750 bottle.

Dark inky garnet purple colored, full bodied, concentrated firm structured but slightly austere blackberry and black raspberry fruits were accented by earthy spice and cigar box with tangy acidity. 

RM 90 points.

Beau Vigne "Juliet" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Bob found this bottle at the Total Wine beverage superstore at Boca Towne Centre in Boco Raton and picked it up for our gathering. Not only was this undiscovered label the surprise of the evening, for me, it was the WOTN - Wine of the Night

This is from winemaker producer Julien Fayard, one of Napa Valley’s most respected winemakers with more than two decades of winemaking expertise. Originally from France, Julien began his career as a winemaker producing quality rosé at his family’s winery in Provence. 

In Bordeaux, he worked at Lafite Rothschild and Smith Haut Laffite before relocating to Napa Valley where he became Philippe Melka’s director of winemaking for a few years before launching his own projects.

Julien earned his Master in Agri-Business from ESA France and his Master in Winemaking from Toulouse France. In 2011, he received his MBA from UC Davis.

Julien Fayard is producing California varietals with French finesse - wines that express their terroir, highlighting the specificities and characteristics of the fruit, vineyard management, soil and climate. He has developed a track record of building brands both in terms of quality and market presence.

Fayard's wines represent the power and depth of mountain fruit grown 1,400 ft above Napa Valley from their prized estate vineyard atop Atlas Peak. The rugged vineyard sits above the fog line on the western slopes of the Vaca Mountains and stretches to 2,500 feet in elevation. Influenced by the mountains, temperatures average 10 degrees cooler than in the Stags Leap District below. The volcanic soil characterizes the uniqueness of this crafted wine with impressive texture and density and that is as lush in style.

He produces a portfolio of ultra-premium red blends, with bold and luscious Cabernet Sauvignon, and rounded out with a prestigious group of Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay sourced from the region’s top vineyards.

His small boutique winery 'flies under the radar as a “hidden gem”' producing only a few thousand cases a year. Famed critic Robert Parker refers to Fayard as “one of my favorite wineries.” They operate a tasting room in downtown Yountville .

The 2018 Signature Series Juliet Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Atlas Peak, 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2%  Petit Verdot.

Winemaker Notes: "2018 was a dream growing season and harvest for Napa Valley. An abundance of rain in February was followed by continuous days of sunshine and mild temperatures that made for uniform vines and even cluster growth. Cooler temperatures allowed us to pick when we wanted, without stress and under optimal conditions. The gift from Mother Nature translated to wines that not only have great concentration but also an amazing freshness.'

"ON THE NOSE:  Boysenberries, kirsch, dark chocolates, blueberries, granular rock'

"ON THE PALATE: Savory blackberry fruit, maraschino cherry, fennel, graphite"

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave this label 93+/100 Points.
This delicious easy sipping round fuit filled wine was a favorite of the ladies, and me too!

Deep garnet-purple colored, full bodied, black berry and black currant frutis with notes of crème de cassis, tapenade, cedar and dark chocolate and hints of cedar with firm but smooth silky tannins on the bright finish. 
RM 94 points. 

We continued the dinner with three more Napa Cabernets ..

Ghost Block Estate Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Lyle brought this recent release Oakville Cabernet - like the Beau Vigne, another ideal selection for 'instant gratification', early enjoyment in its youth for delectable pleasureable sipping for the ladies, and for the men alike. This was another previously unknown producer/label, yet one with an extensive history and deep roots in Napa Valley, that was an immense hit for the evening, enjoyed by all!

This is produced by the Pelissa family whose legacy is unique to Napa Valley and rare in the modern day California wine industry. It began in 1902 when Joseph Pelissa came to Napa Valley from Liguria, Italy and purchased 35 acres of land with a single gold coin in 1903. His son Andrew later took over, building successful dairy and trucking businesses and eventually acquiring 1000 acres in Oakville and Yountville where he planted wine grapes and other crops. Andrew was civic-minded and an early champion of keeping Napa Valley agricultural, and was instrumental in establishing Napa Valley’s Agricultural Preserve Zone. 

Today, the Pelissa grape-growing operation continues to be family-owned and run, overseen by 4thand 5thgeneration family members who live on and farm the land. Since planting their first grapes, the family has supplied fruit to some of the most prestigious wineries in Napa Valley from its 635 acres in ten different estate vineyards.

Not until 2006, over 100 years after Joseph Pelissa came to Napa Valley, Pelissa family created their own wines from the grapes they grew. Ghost Block Estate Wines was established, comprised of three separate brands that showcase the family vineyards that they farm, based on their deep roots in Napa Valley history.

This was awarded 94 points by Wine Spectator.

Wine Spectator - Oakville, Napa, California - "Very lush, with warmed plum sauce, cassis and linzer torte flavors gliding through slowly, but persistently...Stays on the dark side of the spectrum, with a flash of espresso crema flickering at the end amid the exotic fruit." 

Garnet colored, full bodied, bright, big, bold, concentrated ripe blackberry and black raspberry bramble fruit with notes of licorice and cedar. 

RM 93 points.

For the more adventurous, we opened these aged vintage Napa cabernets...

Chanticleer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Lyle also brought this vintage premium Yountville Napa Cab that he received from a business associate several years ago. He has held this bottle in his cellar for a decade and admitted he hated to pull it as the bright colorful label looked good prominently displayed on its cellar display rack. 

Chanticleer, a boutique winery, produces four premium wines incorporating the Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese grapes grown in the 8 1/2 acre vineyard in Yountville in Napa Valley. 

Founder producer George Grodahl spent his career in the computer industry in sales, as an entrepreneur and as an investment banker until 1991 when he took early retirement.

In 1994 he and his wife Caddy purchased 40 acres in the hills of Yountville, in the heart of Napa Valley. The hillside location with well-drained, rocky soils, was ideally suited to grow grapes for great wines. Initially they sold all of their grapes to local wineries for use in their winemaking. 

George began to make wine as a hobby, making a small amount that grew to fifty cases, not for resale, but produced for friends and family only.

Every year the wine got better and in 1998 he teamed up with promising young winemaker, Chris Dearden, to produce Chanticleer wine. Caddy and George formed a partnership in 2000 with winemaker Chris Dearden, owner of Dearden Wines. 

Chris studied Enology at UC Davis and wrote his own major in Winery Operations and Management. He worked at Schramsberg and got his first winemaking job at William Hill Winery. He became the winemaker at a small Carneros winery, Mont St. John, then became a winemaker for Heublein's Fine Wine Group, which included Christian Brothers, Beaulieu and Inglenook. In 1996 he became General Manager and Winemaker at Benessere Winery where he worked for fourteen years. 

The first Chanticleer vintage was released in May, 2003, a Super Tuscan style (blend of Cabernet and some Sangiovese) 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon. A total of 122 cases were released, a blend of 82% Cabernet and 18% Sangiovese. The wine received high praise from its consumers, most was sold direct with some sold to a few restaurants and retailers; it sold out in two months.

The second Chanticleer vintage of 250 cases of the 2001 Chanticleer Cabernet Sauvignon, was released in August, 2004 and was sold out by mid September. This release blended 17% Sangiovese with 83% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was very well received by its clients, mainly repeat buyers with a few new commercial establishments.

Each successive vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Super Tuscan sold out well before the next release became available. Today, they produce about 500 cases per year, 200 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon, 100 of Sangiovese and 200 Cases of their premium flagship blend, Riserva - all allocated to existing clients due to demand. 

In 2020 George sold Chanticleer to Deepak Gulrajani, the winemaker and owner of Nicholson Ranch winery, known for producing excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Chanticleer varietals of Cabernet and Sangiovese were a chance to expand the portfolio. 

The name Chantecleer was taken from England's The Pilgrims Way, made famous in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The stories emanated near their property where George and Caddy Grodahl lived in southern England in Westerham, Kent in the early 1970’s. 

They named their winery in Napa Chanticleer based on the Canterbury tale of Reynard the Fox. Chantecler, which means rooster, is a compound word from chanter (to sing) and cler (clear), and thus literally means clear singer, was a character in the Chaucer Canterbury Tale, Nun's Priest's Tale.

Current owner and winemaker Deepak Gulrajani was born in Mumbai, India, and came to California for a job in the computer business in 1988. He began his winemaking career in his garage making home-made wines in the early 1990s. He planted Nicholson Ranch vineyards in 1995 and has been winemaker for Nicholson Ranch since 2009.  

Chanticleer produce 3 Estate wines in the Super Tuscan style;  Chanticleer Cabernet Sauvignon, Chanticleer Riserva and Chanticleer Sangiovese. Chanticleer Cabernet Sauvignon is primarily a Cabernet with typically greater than 90% Cabernet Grapes and only a small quantity of Sangiovese blended in. The Sangiovese softens the wine and adds fruit to the blend.  With typically less than 10%  Sangiovese in the blend this little bit gives lift, complexity, and a sense of finesse to this  powerful wine.

Garnet colored, medium - full bodied, bright full round black fruits with notes of tobacco, earth and smoke with a soft moderate tannin laced finish. 

RM 91 

Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Bill opened this magnum from his cellar.  This legendary wine from legendary Napa winemaker Randy Dunn, is known to be long lived. At eighteen years, it was probably at its peak, yet with a decade or more left in its prime tasting window, especially in the large format bottle. 

Dunn Vineyards' 64 acres of land, are planted to 42 acres of vineyards in rural upper Howell Mountain. Dunn’s flagship Howell Mountain label is a classic reflection of its terroir - red-stony soil, mixed with volcanic ash, high above the famous Napa Valley fog at 1,400 feet elevation, the vineyards see sunshine each day and the heat tends to be more moderate. 

Dunn’s flagship is produced from 100% mountain grown Cabernet Sauvignon, and is a true expression of the Howell Mountain appellation, tannic, bold, huge, dense and massively structured that demands aging.

This was ideally suited for pairing with the beef tenderloin main entree course. 

Dunn is one of the most extensive holdings in our cellar, spanning three decades. We visited Randy Dunn at his hilltop estate on Howell Mountain back in 2008

This release was awarded 94 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 93 points Vinousand 90 points by Connoisseurs Guide.

Classic Dunn Howell Mountain profile, dark inky purple garnet colored, full bodied, rich concentrated, structured powerful black berry and black raspberry fruits with clove spice, cassis, bitter chocolate and oak, hints of leather and pipe tobacco with fine-grained lingering tannins on the long finish. 

RM 93 points.

Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port 2000

Lyle has customarily brought a Vintage Port to our wine dinners and for this year, he brought a 2000 vintage release from Smith Woodhouse.

The 2000 vintage release for ports was one of the smallest vintages for many years. The more limited production showed great power, immense color and strong tannins. 

This wine displayed complex layers of ripe fruit that was probably at its peek at two decades, yet will likely age gracefully for another decade. 

This was rated 93 (2021) points and 95 (2003) points by Wine Spectator.

This is great with the steak entree but best suited and ideal with the chocolate cake dessert. 

Last year, in 2021, Wine Spectator wrote, "This one is ready to go, with soft-edged plum sauce, blackberry compote and fig paste flavors that drape easily against a backdrop of cinnamon raisin toast and melted licorice notes. A flattering Port that's at peak now. (JM, Web-2021)". 

In 2003, Wine Spectator wrote, "This is the Greatest young Vintage Port of Smith Woodhouse I have ever tasted."

Garnet colored, full bodied, sweet bright blackberry fruits with a layer of cinnamon, licorice and hints of creosote, with smooth, fine tannins and a long, sweet fruit finish. 

RM 93 points.

Kracher Burgenland #9 Nouvelle Vague Trockenberenauslese Chardonnay 2002

As Lyle brings Vintage Ports, I tend to bring sweet 'sticky' dessert wines to our dinners. 

I hold more than a dozen labels and vintages spanning more than two decades of Kracher premium dessert wines. I enjoy serving them for special occasion dinners with fellow eoephiles that appreciate the label. For this weekend, I brought a twenty year old Austrian Kracher TBA - Trochenbereenauslese. 

Trockenbeerenauslese is the highest in sugar content in the category of Austrian and German wine classifications. Trockenbeerenauslese wines, called "TBA" for short, are made from individually selected grapes affected by noble rot (i.e., botrytized grapes).

This means that the grapes have been left on the vine to ripen to the point that they gain a high sugar content, individually picked and are shrivelled with noble rot, often to the point of appearing like a raisin. They are therefore very sweet and have an intensely rich flavor, frequently with a lot of caramel and honey bouquet, stone fruit notes such as apricot, and distinctive aroma of the noble rot.

 Trockenbeerenauslese means literally "dry berry selection." This very sweet dessert wine is made from individually selected shriveled grapes that have the highest sugar levels with flavors concentrated further by the fungus Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot. Trockenbeerenauslesen rank among the greatest sweet wines in the world.

These long lived wines can last multiple decades or more. At twenty years, this was likely at its peak, not likely to improve further with any more aging. Its fun to watch these wines darken as they age. Upon release, they are light straw colored. As they age they darken to butter colored, light weak tea colored, and eventually, like tonight, maple syrup colored, and finally blackish almost coffee colored. 

These are sipping wines, not drinking wines, delightful for casual sipping with salad, cheeses or desserts. 

Tonight, this was similar to the last tasting note that I posted for this label back in 2013 when I wrote: "Like other Krachers, this one exhibits honey color and is full bodied, thick and chewy - compared to other Krachers, this one has an essence of honey moreso than fruit flavors, still flavorful with a hint of apricot and hasn't given way to more neutral smoke and nut flavors that sometimes set in as the fruit diminishes ..."

RM 92 points.

Preparing for the flight ... research and planning the attack ... 

 After dinner ... Beth, the career vocalist and music teacher set out playing the piano and a serious sing-along broke out .. a new OTBN tradition in the making? 

As is customary ... here 's a compendium of our previous Pour Boy's OTBN galas. 

Pour Boys' OTBN 2020 ~ Open That Bottle Night

Pour Boys OTBN 2019 - Open That Bottle Night

Pour Boys OTBN 2018 - Open That Bottle Night

Pour Boys OTBN 2016 - Open That Bottle Night 

Pour Boys OTBN 2015 - Open That Bottle NightBordeaux Anchors OTBN 2015

Pour Boys OTBN - Open That Bottle Night 2014

Pour Boys OTBN 2013 - Open That Bottle Night 2013

Pour Boys OTBN 2012 - Open That Bottle Night




Friday, February 25, 2022

OTBN 22 Kick-off dinner at 48 Wine Bar

OTBN 2022 Gala Weekend Kick-offs of with tasting and dinner at Forty-Eight Wine Bar

Our Pour Boys wine group convened for our annual homage to the vinous vinifera in the ritual that has come to be known as OTBN – Open That Bottle Night. In planning this year’s event, wisdom prevailed and we chose to adjust our rhythm and head south for the mid-winter event vs hosting the event in Chicago. We’ll then pivot to host the summer event, that we held last year in Florida, in Chicago, to align with the seasons.

In that regard, Bill and Beth C graciously opened their home and hosted OTBN at their home in Seabrook Island, SC. In the custom and spirit of OTBN, we Pour Boys, pull from our cellar collections bottles that we had been holding for a special occasion, whose time had not yet come. Alas, OTBN – Open That Bottle (To) Night is for gathering and enjoying such bottles. 

Since we traveled to what became a weekend getaway, our usual annual one-night dinner affair became a weekend of three tasting sessions. 

For the gala weekend, I selected four vintage Cabernets, from select birthyears, or designated select producers, or single vineyards, and a twenty year old dessert wine from our cellar collection.

We kicked off the weekend with a perfect wine focused dinner at FortyEight wine bar in Freshfields Village Kiawah, Island. They offer 48 different wines by the glass - WBTG, dispensed from interactive WineStations, where one can select to taste (1 oz.), a half glass (3 oz.), or a full glass (6 oz.) pours. The range of wines available covers American, French, Italian and other labels ranging from modest to ultra-premium offerings. This is similar to the offerings at the Delray Beach Wine Room Kitchen Wine and Cheese Bar in Delray Beach (FL) where we met last year for a gala dinner - see Pour Boys Wine Dinner at Del Ray Beach Wine Kitchen . Bill and I visited there again when we were in town earlier the previous year and had a Spectacular Wine Cheese Pairing featuring Cliff Lede Poetry 2004.

In addition to the self service WineStation dispensed WBTG, they also offer 840 wines by the bottle, carefully selected by the FortyEight wine team featuring every major varietal and every major wine region; and 48 local and regional craft beers, hand selected seasonally. The wines can be purchased retail for take away or consumption on the premises. 

These available wine selections extend from every day sippers to super ultra-premium First Growth labels including Chateau Haut Brion, Latour, Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild - with numerous vintages on offer for several labels. 

The premium selections also include top flight American labels such as Peter Michel, Shafer Hillside Select, Bond and others. 

They also offer a full menu featuring local, regional, and international cheeses; savory charcuterie platters; seasonal salads and paninis; a full menu of entrees and flatbreads, and local artisan chocolates and other delectable tempting sweets. 

I took advantage of the wide selection and premium WBTG offerings to taste several labels including two near 100 point wine releases - Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2018 and 2010 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino.

Château Léoville-Poyferré, St-Julien 2018 

We visited Château Léoville Poyferré, St Julien-Beychevelle Bordeaux during our trip to the appellation in 2019. 
Our private tour of the winery and chateau and tasting were one of the highlights of our trip to the region. We tasted this vintage pre-release from a barrel sample as part of our tasting flight at that time. 
We also had fun meeting Brand Ambassador, our host, tour guide and server, Claire Ridley, when she visited Chicago as part of the UGCB release tour 2019. 

This label tasting was WOTN - Wine of the Night, for me and was arguably the Best of the entire OTBN weekend - certainly so in my book.

This release was awarded a superlative 100 points by Jeb Dunnuck. It received 97 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate,  James Suckling, Vinous, Wine Enthusiast as well as *Cellar Selection*, and Wine Spectator which also recognized it, *Ranked #7 Wine Spectator Wine of the Year 2021* - an extraordinary concensus of a spectacular rating. It also received 96 points from Decanter.

Jeb Dunnuck said this was "Every bit as good as the 2009 (that also received 100 points), and I think better than the 2010 and 2016, the 2018 Château Léoville Poyferré is a total thrill that tops out my scale."

This is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc, aged in 80% new oak barriques. 

Dark garnet purple colored, full bodied - complex, concentrated yet smooth, polished, balanced and elegant - flawless, a symphony of plum, blackberry and black raspberry fruit flavors with notes of clove spice, cacao, tobacco, graphite with silky smooth polished tannins on the seductive finish. 

RM 97 points.

Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino 2010

What a treat to taste two 97+ point wines side by side. This label vintage release was also rated 99 and 96 points and was considered favorite and WOTN by Lyle, and some of the others. 

This is from the Italian appellation of Brunello di Montalcino, regarded as one of Italy’s best appellations. Located in south central Tuscany below Chianti, the wines of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG are made of a Sangiovese clone called “brunello,” which means “little dark one,” a reference to the brown tones in the skin of the grape. Unlike some Tuscan appellations that allow other grapes to be blended with Sangiovese, Brunello di Montalcino appellation rules require 100% Sangiovese.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG has to be made 100% with Sangiovese grapes alone, and made only within the Montalcino municipality area. It can only be sold in the market from January 1 of its fifth year after harvest. Prior to that, the wine cannot legally be called Brunello di Montalcino (not even in the cellar): it is simply "red wine to become Brunello di Montalcino DOCG".

Montalcino is a picturesque, hill-top town that was not especially well known for wine production until the mid-19th century, when a local vineyard owner isolated the brunello clone and planted it. Other growers followed suit. Nevertheless it wasn’t until the 1970s that wine enthusiasts started paying attention to Brunello di Montalcino, which by then was becoming an outstanding wine. 

Today there are 120 estates in the DOCG, up from about 25 estates in 1975. Brunellos in general are bigger, darker, more tannic and more powerful wines than Chiantis or most other Sangioveses. By law they must be aged for four years, and two of those years must be in wooden barrels.  

The Valdicava estate in Montalcino, Tuscany, dates to 1953 when Bramante Abbruzzese returned to the property in Montalcino where his ancestors were sharecroppers centuries before. In 1967 he founded the Consorzio di Brunello. today, the estate is owned and operated by his grandson, Vincenzo Abbruzzese who also serves as winemaker who has transformed Valdicava into one of Montalcino’s most collectible producers. The 300-acre estate has nearly 70 acres planted to vineyards, 100% planted to Sangiovese.  

The estate’s flagship wine is the Brunello Riserva Madonna del Piano, and it also produces this Brunello Valdicava and a lesser Rosso di Montalcino. Total production is about 6,000 cases annually.

This 2010 vintage release is considered by connoisseurs as one of the best vintages so far for Brunello di Montalcino.  Vincenzo Abruzzese, owner and winemaker of Valdicava, makes no exception, saying 2010 “the perfect vintage” for Montalcino - the vintage of the century and certainly the best one he has ever made. 

Vincenzo believes that 2010 has become a reference point in the history of Brunello di Montalcino. The lack of any climatic excesses combined with an extended growing season resulted in a wine that, while packing power and opulence, is elegant with each of its elements – alcohol, sugar concentration and acidity – in perfect harmony. For Vincenzo, the combination of these different qualities makes it one of greatest Brunellos ever made.

This vintage release was awarded 99 points by James Suckling, 96 points by Wine Spectator, *Collectibles*, 94 points by Vinous, and  93 points by  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

Bright ruby colored, medium-full bodied, tangy vibrant blackberry, sweet black cherry and plum fruits are accented by notes of flowers, licorice, mushroom, tobacco and leather with layers of ultra-fine tannins and hints of tangy acidity with long big yet silky tannins.

RM 93 points.

During the evening, we also had the chance to taste a assorted flight of other red and white wines.

We feasted on an extensive cheese and charcuterie plate of six cheeses and six meats served with fresh baguettes and bacon jam - St James Brie, VAT 17 World Cheddar, LaClare Maple Bourbon Goat, Fig & Honey Chevre, Manchego Viejo, and Clemson Blue cheeses. For the meats - Truffle Salami, Proscuitto Parma, Heritage Farms Smoke Andouille, Aromatic Pepper Clove Bresaola, and Black Pepper Pate.

 I tasted the following additional reds:

Turnbull Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Turnbull consider themselves farmers as much as winemakers with four estate vineyards in Oakville and Calistoga that represent a range of attributes and expressions of the Napa Valley from the valley floor to the steepest of slopes high above Oakville. They profess these vineyards to reflect some of the best terroir the Napa Valley has to offer, providing a "true fingerprint of origin and place."
The Turnbull estate sits right on St. Helena highway in Oakville, with its small-scale tasting spaces nestled among the vineyard and gardens with beautiful views of the surrounding valley.

The label is sourced from Turnbull's Amoenus property in Calistoga, complemented with fruit from Fortuna and Weitz Vineyards in Oakville. 

The Amoenus Vineyard in the sub-valley in the Northwestern corner of Calistoga at 460-860ft elevations and with a multitude of slopes and exposures with volcanic soils. The higher elevations and exposures face varying weather patterns and diurnal shifts with warm, late summer daytime temperatures and cooler nights that allow the wines to achieve both ripeness and balanced acidity. The 46 acre vineyard is planted predominantly with Cabernet Sauvignon plantings, with two ridge top blocks of Syrah.

The Fortuna Vineyard is a historic vineyard site from pre-Prohibition and originally sourced by the venerable Christian Brothers winery.  It sits at the base of the gently sloping Oakville Bench, on the eastern side of the Oakville appellation. The site's ancient red volcanic soils from the adjoining Vaca Range produce wines with darker red fruit notes with an identifiable spice box component that tend to be elegant and express themselves more quickly than with our other sites. The 52 1/2 acre vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, & Sauvignon Blanc planted planted between 1987-2017.

The Weitz Vineyard sits on the homestead of the pre-vine era Weitz cattle range and then home to the first vines planted in the area. Sitting atop the Oakville bench, with Western exposure, it is dominated by well-drained red volcanic soils that add minerality, texture and structure to the wines. Coupled with the site's generous sun exposure, the vines reach full ripeness coupled with acid retentionto produce wines with both flavor density and freshness. This site is planted predominantly to Cabernet Sauvignon with some Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Syrah and Lagrein vines as well.

This release was awarded WW 94 points by Wilfred Wong of, 93 points, an *Editors’ Choice* by Wine Enthusiast, 92 points by James Suckling and Vinous, and 91 points by Wine Spectator. 

Decent QPR in this Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet belays its oversize and weighty bottle packaging.

Winemaker Notes - Aromatics of densely brooding blackberries—seemingly right off the vine—compel the nose into deeper aromatics of dried cassis, toasted almonds,and roasted herbs. The palate reveals a dark baritone of plumpness, highlighted by tones of plum, sage, and muddled strawberries. Through themid-palate of generous width and softness, this resonant darkness persists to a finish of focus and lasting flavor.

 Garnet colored, medium-full bodied, bright plum, blackberry and hint of  cranberry and black cherry fruits with notes of dusty herb and cassis with bright acidity on the tangy slightly astringent tannin. 

RM 90 points.

Hall Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 

Our visits and private tastings at the Hall Estate Winery in Rutherford have been highlights of many of our Napa Valley Wine Experiences. 

We discovered Hall and their Napa Valley wines during our first visit to the Hall St Helena winery when it first opened back in the nineties. We then visited their magnificent new winery and cellar and tasting room in Rutherford during our Napa Valley Wine Experience back in 2003. 

We did a tour and Hall Rutherford Winery Estate Appellation Tasting in 2017 and another Hall Napa Valley Rutherford Estate Tour and Tasting in 2013.

We've collected this label for going more than two decades along with their premium and some of their ultra premium labels, available only to wine club members through their allocations, and before that, single vineyard designated labels from the Sacrashe Vineyard in the late nineties.

This is their basic Cabernet sourced from their vast range of sites across Napa Valley. Hall have established themselves as one of the top brands and leading producers across the Napa region with a broad portfolio of twenty different Cabernet Sauvignons from premium to ultrapremium labels.

Hall source grapes from over 500 acres of vineyards across the Napa Valley. Roughly half of the grapes Hall uses come from their ten Estate Vineyards, the other half come from over seventy vineyards from around the valley. 

Halls's estate vineyards stretch across the entire Napa Valley region from the valley floor to the hilltops, encompassing approximately 150 acres planted to the classic Bordeaux varietals.

Winemaker Notes for this label - This wine is dark garnet in color with layers of blackberry, black cherry, sweet spice, black pepper, and oak. On the palate, there is bold, dark fruit at the forefront of this full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon that gives way to flavors of cocoa, nutmeg and graphite. The tannins are chewy and powerful, balanced by refreshing acidity on the long finish. 
This label release was awarded 94 points by Jeb Dunnuck and 93 points by Wilfred Wong of, and RP 92 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate,WE 90 points by Wine Enthusiast.
Deep garnet-purple colored, full-bodied and firmly structured but nicely balanced, round blackcurrant and blackberry fruits with earthy, tapenade, and black olive-like aromas and flavors, hints of tar and tree bark with grainy tannins and soft acidity on a smooth polished lingering finish. 

RM 92 points.

For our dinner entrees, Linda had the Diver Scallops and I had the pan seared Salmon with white bean puree and stewed tomatoes. With our entrees we tasted the following whites.

Stewart Sonoma Mountain, Farina Vineyard Chardonnay 2019

Stewart Cellars in Younville, Napa, is a family affair. Founded in 2000 by Michael Stewart after he sold his technology company in Texas, Stewart Cellars is the collaborative project of founder Michael Stewart, his son James Stewart, daughter Caroline Stewart Guthrie, and son-in-law Blair Guthrie. Together, they oversees all aspects of the winery’s operations: James, an artist who left behind a career in television and music for hands-on work in sales, marketing and distribution; Caroline, leads the day to day operations along with each wine’s development; and Blair, the winemaker who works closely alongside their consulting winemaker to capture the signature terroir of Stewart’s premier vineyards and vineyard sources. 

With a post-graduate degree in oenology and viticulture, Blair got his start in wine in 2009 as a harvest intern at Paul Hobb’s Crossbarn where he met his wife, Caroline Stewart. Together the couple moved to South Australia, where Blair assumed a job as assistant winemaker at BK Wines. Returning to Napa Valley in 2012, Blair was assistant winemaker at Kunde Family Winery for three years. He joined Stewart Cellars as winemaker and vineyard manager in 2015. 

Stewart have lasting relationships with viticulturists of some of the most respected vineyards across the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. From these they craft vineyard designated wines to showcase the terroir of their respective vineyards. They have a portfolio of Cabernet, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and several red blends sourced from some of the finest vineyard sources in Napa and Sonoma. 

This single vineyard designated label is sourced from the Farina Vineyard in the Sonoma Mountain appellation.

The Sonoma Mountain appellation is part of the greater Sonoma Valley which is comprised of four distinct Sonoma County sub-appellations - Carneros, Moon Mountain District, Sonoma Mountain and Bennett Valley. It is defined more by altitude than geographical outline, the Sonoma Mountain appellation occupies elevations between 400 and 1,200 feet on the northern and eastern slopes of the actual Sonoma Mountain. The mountain reaches a peak of 2,400 feet; its hills separate the cooling winds of Petaluma Gap from the Sonoma Valley.

Winemaker notes for this label - "With subtle hints of ripe peach and graham cracker shining through on the nose, our 2019 Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay is both elegant and bright.  Featuring flavors of mandarin and meyer lemon, this medium-bodied Chardonnay is balanced between the Burgundian and California style.  The palate is long and the finish highlights the French oak, circling us back to the beginning."

This was ideally paired with the Diver Scallops. 

Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc 2019

With my dinner I drank one of my perennial favorite whites, Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc 2019.

After dinner, back at Bill and Beth's, Bill opened a Dunn Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, in magnum, and for the ladies, a Hall Vineyards Bergfeld Napa Cab 2013 and Diamond Mountain Cabernet 2014.

As is customary ... here 's a compendium of our previous Pour Boy's OTBN galas.

Pour Boys' OTBN 2020 ~ Open That Bottle Night

Pour Boys OTBN 2019 - Open That Bottle Night

Pour Boys OTBN 2018 - Open That Bottle Night

Pour Boys OTBN 2016 - Open That Bottle Night 

Pour Boys OTBN 2015 - Open That Bottle NightBordeaux Anchors OTBN 2015

Pour Boys OTBN - Open That Bottle Night 2014

Pour Boys OTBN 2013 - Open That Bottle Night 2013

Pour Boys OTBN 2012 - Open That Bottle Night