Sunday, March 1, 2009

OTBN 2009

We hosted an "Open That Bottle Night" party again this year. Same general idea as before – invite wine loving friends, ask them to bring something special and be prepared to share the experience. This year there were a total of 10 of us and we shared 8 different wines and a variety of delicious foods. A real treat all around.

To start the party we had some appetizers and some fun/light Prosecco. The Candoni which isn't as bone dry as some, but set the tone for the evening. Griff and Suzy brought a huge plate of cold meats, cheeses, etc. to have as appetizers. Charles/Tracey brought delicious stuffed artichoke hearts and Cathy produced a brie with a sweet glaze and gently hot peppers. Oink, oink!

Before getting into the wines (and they were all wonderful!), we went through a tasting exercise. I had made up some essences of some of the flavor compounds found in wines. These compounds ranged from sweet to tannin with bitter, sour, flowery, fruity, smooth, oak, and acetic. The compounds were made up to be very subtle, so we had to work quite hard to get the flavor profiles. The results were fascinating. Those who don't like Rieslings and Gewurtztraminers didn't care at all for the flowery compounds. Those that really like the big cabs really went for the tannin, and to a lesser extent the oak.

We were encouraged to compare the flavor profile with pure water in each case so we could really get the subtle distinctions. All in all quite an interesting exercise. It also made sure that the assembled gathering were pretty well hydrated before getting to the main event.

We arranged the wines in sequence – from lightest to heaviest. This year they were all red wines, so it was trickier than in years past. Here's what we had.

  • Clos de la Roche (Burgundy 1er cru) 2000 – with a delicious baked chicken dish. Bryan brought this and explained that it was becoming pretty hard to get. What a terrific start to the evening – wish there had been more. That's going to be a familiar theme, by the way.
  • Chateau de Pommard (Burgundy ) 1996 – with Boeuf Bourgignon inspired sliders. Madame and I provided this. It was one we brought back from our trip to Burgundy in 2002. While not the highest quality Burgundy we will ever drink, it still had sufficient complexity for the food. Interestingly it opened up very quickly in the glass.
  • Baron de Barbon (Rioja) 2005. This is a 100% Tempranillo brought by Cathy. Delicious very characteristic Rioja with lots of tannin and some dried fruit bouquet – almost raisin like. That sweetness was in the bouquet, but not on the tongue. Cathy had found it while doing research – and she kindly brought a second bottle which we have kept to ourselves….
  • D.V. Catena (Argentina) 2004. A 100% Malbec brought by David and Sandra. This was the last bottle from their personal favorite collection of Malbecs, so we were honored to share it with them. Sandra prepared an Asian flavored Kobe beef dish that was absolutely delicious (note to self, get recipe from Sandra!) It complemented the wine perfectly – causing of all things the spiciness of the dish to come jumping out.
  • Veraison Synchrony (California, Napa) 2004. This is an interesting and complex wine. It is a blend of equal parts Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon (44% each) with 6% Malbec and 6% Merlot, so there is a lot going on. Charles and Tracey brought this to the party after tasting it at a local wine bar called Cru.
  • Darjoush (California, Napa) 2005. This is a huge cabernet Sauvignon, with lots of tannin and an amazing amount of body. Somewhat oaky too. Griff and Suzie found this on their trip to Napa last year (for their 25th. Wedding anniversary) – just about breaking their backs carrying the unbelievably heavy bottles home.

So that was it for the formal stuff – but to add to the fun we opened a bottle of our current favorite Shiraz – The Ausvetia 1998 which we had managed to buy on sale (just as well really!).

All in all this was a terrific party. Even though it looks like a lot of wine, the pours were small and we got to savor everything. Thanks to everyone for coming to a fun party.

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