OTBN- Open That Bottle Night- Italian Bordeaux

2010DR_InteregationI had loosely participated in Open That Bottle Night off and on (when I remembered) up until last year. The couple that started this unique celebration of wine, Dorothy J. Gaiter (Dottie) and John Brecher, hosted the event live, in a small restaurant near our home. Although my wife and I were in a room full of strangers it was like having dinner with old friends, as people shared their wine and their stories.

As soon as I read that they would be returning to the same restaurant, I immediately booked a reservation.

The wine I am bringing:

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Lower alcohol Cali Cab? Been there Dunn that…

2004Dunn_front 2004Dunn_HowellSorry for the cheesy article title, I couldn’t resist. Many of my wine aficionado friends have an affinity for top tier (cult) California Chardonnay and Cabernet.

California cult wines are usually very tannic upon release, heavily oaked, and highly extracted (they are a mouthful). The term coined for this type of wine is “cocktail cabernet”.

I tend to prefer European wines as they are generally higher in acid and lower in sugar (alcohol), therefore pairing better with food.

One alternative to the standard California Cabernet “recipe” is Dunn Vineyards.

Although Dunn wines can be very tannic on release, they purposely keep the alcohol low in their wines. They are so adamant about their wines being below 14% that they often “dealcoholize their wine.

There are two main ways to reduce the amount of alcohol in a finished wine:

1. Add water (secretly known as Jesus units).

2. Use technology (like reverse osmosis).

There is some debate as to whether this produces “better” wines. Father and son certainly disagree. Many believe that this conviction has cost Dunn Vineyards favorable reviews from wine critics.

I was fortunate enough to sample a 2004 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet from Imperial (Imperial=Quadruple Magnum or 8 bottles of wine). A limited release- only 100 of these were produced (see the bottom of the bottle above). This wine was dealcoholized when it came in at around 14.3 percent.

But, is it good…now?

After 10+ years it is still primary and “hot”.  If I didn’t know it was held to 14% alcohol I would swear it was 15%+. Ripe Dark fruit, vanilla and still some apparent oak. It changed/evolved in the glass which is a sign of a great wine.

Yes, it is very good but will keep getting better. Try and hold off on drinking this wine. If you can’t wait- decant it for a few hours…or a few days…seriously.

redwine_invisalignWarning: BIG red wine will stain invisalign.

For more related reading…

Open That Bottle Night

2006_CdBMeritageFor our first trip to the North Fork of Long Island we attended Wine Camp. With each winery, that you visit, you learn a different aspect of the wine business; from the owners or winemakers. A very personal and hands-on approach, we blended wine at one, pruned vines at another and learned alot about the region and it’s wines. It was a very special experience. And on the last night we celebrated with a wine/food pairing at Castello di Borghese.

The owners, Marco and Ann Marie Borghese were gracious hosts and true ambassadors for the wine region.

One of the rewards, of Wine Camp, is a mixed case from each of the participating wineries, including two bottles from Borghese.

Over the years we enjoyed these wines, for special occasions, and each time it brought back great memories. Continue reading

Wine bottles…Why bigger IS better!

2005_OakvilleRanch_6L Recently I was fortunate enough to try wine from a pretty large bottle. The wine was a 6L (holds 8 bottles) 2005 Oakville Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was bursting of red/black fruit, especially cassis, had an excellent mid-palate and a long ROUND finish. I couldn’t believe how soft this wine tasted. I then asked the owner how long the bottle had been open. “Two days”, he replied “and it is finally drinking really well”. “Very tannic when we first opened it”.

So what is it with BIG bottles of wine? They are very hard to store. They are generally difficult to find. They almost ALWAYS cost more than if you had bought the single bottles, separately.

There are obvious fun factors– they are cool to break out at parties and it is entertaining to watch someone pour from the really large ones. However there are some very important reasons to go big…

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Pre-2000 Bordeaux Blind tasting

Bordeaux Pre-2000,
Blind Tasting Dinner

Restaurant 42, White Plains
December 17, 2012

Starter wines:

2011 Hamilton Russel Vineyards Chardonnay, South Africa.
Stony, Mineral, yet with full ripe citrus fruit

1991 Havens Chardonnay,
California (Magnum).

Deep golden color with no browning, good acid with flavors of caramel, almonds. An amazing non Reserve California Chardonnay, still drinking well, after 20+ years.

 

Flight 1

1982 Chateau-Lascombes, Margaux, France.
At first aromas of iron, earth but lacking in fruit continued to open and evolve with
very strong tobacco leaf with building fruit profile. Perfectly integrated tannins.
Drinking beautifully… probably the WINE OF THE NIGHT.

1983 Chateau Pichon Lalande, Pauillac, France.
Detected aromas of mint (eucalyptus?) or cedar also drinking very well. As it sat in glass it continued to change with flavors of grilled meat and tobacco.

1989 Chateau Leoville Las Cases, St. Julien, France.
Compared to first wines, very youthful and slightly tannic- will be a beautiful wine
(has PLENTY ) of life left.

Not sure the next wines can be any better… Continue reading

The “skinny” on Chile- Organic Wines, Excellent Value

South American wines often get lumped together on wine lists and in retail stores, and that is a shame. The two largest wine producing regions of Chile and Argentina have some things in common:

Location (latitude)- they share weather and temperature

Altitude-they are located on either side of the Andes mountains which is a key component in their unique terroir

Very little rain-both countries have very little rain fall but have ample water for wine production due to the melting snow and ice of the Andes.

Very low cost of labor– Virtually all grapes are picked by hand.

All of these factors are beneficial to wine growing. They allow them to produce clean wines (hardly any chemical usage), with very ripe fruit, high acid, and soft tannin.

BUT CHILE IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM ARGENTINA…

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Véraison- The grapes they are a changin’

This past weekend we travelled to the North Fork of Long Island for a Dinner in the Vines at Lenz Winery.

We took some time to walk the vines. This is a very important time of year for the wine growers, known as Véraison (Vay-ray-zoN). This wine growing term, from the French, is used to mean “the onset of ripening”.

All grapes start out very small and acidic (not good to taste). During véraison the berries become soft and take on the colors characteristic of their specific varieties. White grapes change from green to whitish golden. Red/Black grapes change from green to their final color.

Looking at the color of the grape skins can finally give you an indication of the final color of the wine. Also, inside of the grapes, acid levels decrease and sugar levels increase.

Because the grapes are finally getting sweet this is also the time that wine growers will cover the vines with nets to protect them from the hungry birds.

Took a few pictures of the process for you enjoy…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next step…wine harvest.