For one frosty night in February, the dreary cold is banished by the warmth of Open That Bottle Night. The event is a time to gather with family and friends to open a special bottle that otherwise would remain sealed for lack of the “just right” occasion.
At Toledo Wines and Vines, we scraped the ice off the sidewalks, polished up the wine glasses and hosted 17 friends to enjoy a selection of unique wines. It was an evening filled with fun, fellowship and bottles from the Finger Lakes, Ontario, Australia, Argentina, Portugal, New Zealand, Washington, Spain and California.
This was our lineup:
- 2013 Lakewood Vineyards 3 Generations Riesling, Finger Lakes
- 2011 TerraVentoux Ventoux les Sablons
- 2012 Jean-Jacques Vincent Pouilly-Fuissé Cuvée Marie Antoinette
- 2007 Five Star Cellars Petit Verdot/Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley (Signed by owner Dave Huse)
- 2012 19 Crimes, Victoria, Australia
- Byron 2012 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley
- 2010 Kenwood Vineyards Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
- 2007 Kacaba Vineyard Reserve Meritage, VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario
- 2009 Numanthia Termes, Toro, Spain
- 2008 Susana Balbo Brioso, Mendoza, Argentina
- 2009 Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon, California
- 2011 Selaks East Coast Ice Wine, New Zealand
- NV Kessler Vineyard Cherry Port
- Dow’s 10 Year Old Porto
Phew! Let me say that we were giving “tasting” pours and Pastor Chuck was there to ensure the event didn’t descend into mayhem.
Arrival wines included the Ventoux les Sablons, a nice Syrah-Grenache blend from Rhone and the 2013 3 Generations Riesling from Lakewood. The 3 Generations is a knockout Dry Riesling from the outstanding 2013 Finger Lakes vintage. The wine has peach, pear, and lime with pleasing minerality and acidity.
The 2007 Five Star Cellars Petit Verdot/Cab Franc was a case of lost and found. I attended a tasting a few years ago at Corks. Dave Huse, owner of the winery was there doing the tasting. He was happy to autograph bottles for those who bought them. I purchased one and so did tasting team member, the Cabinator. In subsequent years, we both drank our bottles – and loved them. Just a few months ago, I discovered this autographed bottle languishing in a discount bin at Corks. I snatched it up for a paltry sum.
The Five Star fills the glass with its aromatic bouquet. It is initially velvety on the tongue. It has notes of dark fruit, cherry, mint and the forest floor. It finishes with a touch of spice.
We then learned that there were 19 crimes for which a British citizen could be banished to the penal colony of Australia. That wouldn’t be bad these days, as there is some fine wine being produced there, such as the 19 Crimes Shiraz blend.
The 2012 Byron Pinot Noir showcases the Pinot mastery of Santa Barbara County. Jack let the group know that this was one of the wines featured in Sideways that fueled the Pinot craze. The flavors blend cherry and toffee with a long peppery finish.
Our group then filtered down to the wine cellar – or more accurately, our cellar where I keep the wine. I don’t want to make it sound too grandiose. Anyhoo, while I showed off my Jeroboam of Rioja, I poured the 2010 Kenwood Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has a full body with red fruit and flavors of eucalyptus and cola. The finish is long and beautiful. It is an enticing wine that urges you to come back for more (we did, until the bottle was empty!).
Next was from one of our favorite wineries, Kacaba Vineyard in the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario. Cabinator presented this 2007 Reserve Meritage to the delight of the crowd. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It was a standout with a full nose, savory flavors of red and black fruit coat the tongue while toasty oak is also in the mix.
Our exploration of exotic wines continued with our savoring of the 2009 Numanthia Termes Tempranillo from Toro. Eric told the story of how he picked up the bottle while in Barcelona preparing for the running of the bulls – what a great story, which we soon learned was completely fabricated.
Another high point was the 2008 Susana Balbo Brioso from Mendoza. Brioso means “spirited love of challenge” and these grapes are challenged indeed, all being grown at elevations over 3,300 feet. The blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. This is a magnificent wine with great depth. It is dark, smooth and elegant with notes of toffee and dark fruit.
We enjoyed one final Cab, the impenetrably dark 2012 Carnivor provided by tasting team members Wine Chick and Sax Man. This is a teeth-stainer with rich flavors of raisin, blackberry and oak.
We finished with a trio of dessert wines: the Selaks 2011 East Coast Ice wine from New Zealand, Kessler Vineyard Cherry Port, and the Dow 10 Year Old Porto. The Selaks wasn’t syrupy as we thought it might be. It paired quite nicely with celery (at least according to one guest, but it’s not a recommended pairing). Tasting Team Member Dr. J poured his own creation, Kessler Vineyard Cherry Port – and it was a hit. Just the right amount of fruit to balance the “portness” of the wine. We closed with a traditional Port and it was a fitting finish – warming us all before many had to trek into the snowflakes for the ride home.
OTBN 2016 can’t come fast enough!