Change of venue - rhythm as Pour Boys OTBN 2022 moves to Charleston
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.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.
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
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.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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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"
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
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
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.
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
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?