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

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