Sunday, February 24, 2013

OTBN 2013 - aka parsley is a vegetable

Feb 23, 2013 was another round of "Open That Bottle Night". OTBN was started by a couple of WSJ wine writers. It is always the last Saturday in February. A time to drink interesting wine, share the love for wine and generally have a great time. Here is a description from times past. We have a standard format for this. It is a party that suits us and our friends well. Always 10 people. Some couples, some solos. So there are 5 or six wines to taste.  It is always in three parts.
The first part is the getting together part. Here we encourage some mingling around snacks and a loosener of champagne. Second part some wine related experience "game". Third the main event.
The guests are all asked to bring a wine which means something special to them, and to bring a dish that pairs well with that wine. Over the years the mood has been towards interesting reds - and this year there was even more variety than usual. The guests outdid themesleves with terrific wines, wonderful stories and amazing pairings. The only slight downside (and I am not sure it was a real downside) was the lack of vegetables. Up intil the last round, about the only "vegetable" that we saw was parsley! It became the standing joke.

The Meet and Greet

For this we had croque messieurs and salad with lettuce, mache, arugula (rocket) from the garden. A simple vinaigrette, some red/yellow tomatoes and thinly sliced radishes. Served with a couple of bottles of Veuve Cliquot (NV). The ice was broken.

The Game

For this year's "game" we decided to taste a couple of wines in black glasses so we couldn't see the color - only relying on our noses and taste buds. That's how Mark West Pinot Noir found itself in such elite company. We lined up the glasses in 2 columns (Column A and Column B, of course). Each person was asked to taste one wine from each column, think about it, and comment. Of course there was some sleight of hand going on here because I had used a white Pinot Noir wine from Willamette, Washington in column A. Column B was the Mark West Pinot Noir. This caused some confusion, and a few, "gross" comments from column B. Oh, and I was concerned that some of our more sneaky guests might try dribbling the wines down their chins  to see the color, so I added a drop of black food coloring to the white. Obviously not the high point of the evening! Much fun, laughter and setting of mood.

The Main Event

There were six wine/food pairings and then a couple of bonus bottles and a 1985 PX Bodega sherry to finish with. Small - tasting sized pours. After all, even though this was a neighborhood group, some people claimed they had to exercise the next morning

First Pairing

This from Chuck/Jeanine. An outstanding terrine, paired with a 2006 Morey Saint Denis Burgundy. The wine was an ethereal monopole Premier Cru Burgundy . Not as much funk as some, but still with a lot of structure. Little fruit, low tannin but a surprisingly long finish. They had found this on one of their trips to Burgundy, while staying at a newly opened small hotel. It had become a favorite thereafter. Thank you for such a great way to kick off the event.

Second Pairing

This from us. A 1990 Chateau de Pommard - also from  Burgundy. This was definitely a bit past its prime. It had the Burgundy funk in spades. But almost all the fruit had gone, leaving tannins, leather notes. Served with the duck, it went off well. We had bought a mixed case (1990, 1992, 1996) from the Chateau when we there. Hoisting the case in its wooden traveling box into the overhead compartment on the flight home caused my shoulder to give up the ghost, resulting in rotator cuff surgery.

Third Pairing

From Cathy. a 2011 Sojourn Gaps Crown Pinot Noir. She had met the wine maker at a tennis event. He was just starting out. shee told him that she would buy some when he had his first Parker points. He got a 95 for this one. She paired this very fruit forward, North American Pinot with a warm goat cheese and portabella mushroom tart. The richness of the tart and earthiness of the mushrooms coupled with the deep layers of the wine made for a terrific experience. It is so good to try something never before seen. Thanks Cath!

Fourth Pairing

From Sandra/David. An Amarone Della Valpolicella 2006, Classico. David/Sandra had discovered this on one of their early trips to Italy, and had fallen in love with it. His story talked about their finding it, and then learning about the production process of Amarone - the drying of the grapes to concentrate the flavors. This was all you would want in an Amarone deep, rich, lush, almost aniseed note. Plenty of fruit, but not jammy. Paired with carpaccio - some arugula (the first green product in its element), drizzled with olive oil and a little lemon. Some Parmigiano Reggiano shavings. Oh My!

Fifth Pairing

From Victoria/Chris. A Don Melchor 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile. Served with grilled tenderloin and chimichurra. The chimichurra needed something potent to stand up to it. The wine did its job beautifully. And the beef was to die for. definitely got our parsley vegetation in the chimichurra. The intensity of the wine with a little smokiness to it, depth but relatively short finish left the food/wine residual mouth experience just where it needed to be.  My mouth is still watering. Chris regaled us with stories from Chile where wine tastings were previously unheard of. The question often asked, "What do you mean you want to taste the wine, just buy a bottle?" The industry has come on strong since then and long may it continue.

Sixth Pairing

From Chuck H. A Del Dotto 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. A "war horse" ending to our wine symphony. Chuck made a rib roast to go with this intense, oaky as evidenced by strong vanilla notes, delicious Cabernet Sauvignon that he found on a trip to California for his parents' 50th wedding anniversary. A wonderful family occasion translated to a delicious wine for this event. The pairing of the rib roast (perfectly cooked, medium rare) with roasted fennel, carrots and brussels sprouts was ideal. Especially the fennel. It brought out further depth from the wine. Bravo!

The Extras.

The evening wasn't quite over. Chuck/Jeanine just happened to have another Morey Saint Denis (this time a 2004), Chris/Victoria magicked up an Alfa Crux 2008 Malbec and we had some Pedro Ximenes 1985 La Bodega sherry lying around. Served with Lindt white chocolate mouth bombs, Fortnum and Mason chocolates... The evening came reluctantly to a close.

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