Open That Bottle Night, Vintage 2009

Like a lightening bolt out of blue skies, on the occasion of the 10th annual “Open that Bottle Night,” the cork-pulling event has established itself as a real, fake holiday.

Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) – an occasion espoused by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, wine columnists for the Wall Street Journal, implores wine enthusiasts of all stripes to open that damn bottle.

It happens to everybody who has ever purchased a bottle of wine, you buy something that has meaning or is otherwise special by purchase occasion or price and then you don’t drink it.  That bottle may make it through various relationships, storage methods, moves, and life stations, acting as a planted, vinous way station in our life’s journey.

However, the reality is that wine is probably going to be better sooner rather than later, and everybody deserves to share in the delight of a beautiful bottle of wine drunk in the company of friends, family and good food.

Now, that said, on this occasion of OTBN, I will be in the company of friends, but it will be with beer in hand.  My wife and I sometimes hang out with an arty crowd, pottery folks mostly, it’s an urbane, smart, down to earth crowd and every February Joe, the ringleader of sorts, throws a soup party – bring a batch of your favorite soup, a bowl and spoon for yourself and enjoy some noshes and company.

The soup party is always fun.  It is also, as noted, a decided beer event.

So, I opened my wine bottles a day early, just to make sure I was sniffing, swirling and slurping with the same joie de vivre that others would be.

Not able to pull the trigger on my precious A. Rafanelli, nor the 2000 Cascina Morassino Barbaresco that Parker gave just 89 points to, but, in my opinion, is so good it calls up a paraphrasing of Beat writer William Burroughs when he said, “We see God through our (palates) in the flashbulb of orgasm” or the ’99 Joseph Phelps Insignia, that was a wedding present and really deserves to live till 2015 and my 10-year anniversary, I went with the 2005 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and the 2005 Chimney Rock Elevage.

2005 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

This is the fourth time I have had this bottle and it gets better and better every time, and is drinking at peak form.  At $35 this is an extraordinary bargain for Pinot lovers. 

Blended from small Sonoma Coast sites, this is something of a Pinot mutt, but like your favorite companion, the sum of its parts makes a beautiful whole.

With a nose that jumps out of the glass with strawberries and cherries intermingled with tinges of raspberry on the edges, the palate offers a savory blend of stewed fruit with a dash of vanilla, earth and truffle with a lingering acidity that makes the wine a wonderful companion for dinner, but imminently gulpable.

A very delicious wine from a producer that is consistently well above average and reasonably priced relative to other California Pinots.

2005 Chimney Rock Elevage

There is not much to say about Chimney Rock that has not already been said, a noted, and notable producer with a lengthy track record of making expressive, Bordeaux-style wines.

The Elevage, a judicious mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, is a very pleasant wine now that will only get better with age, a little like the straight A 14-year old student who is a little precocious for his own good, not yet realizing his own vast potential.

Offering up an amazing texture and velvety mouth feel with an abundance of earth and restrained dark hand fruit, blackberry and black cherry, this wine has an alluring tannic structure that hints at the years ahead when the new French oak fully integrates with the earth and fruit.

To enjoy now, decant for an hour and serve with a wonderful bone-in steak and root vegetables.  Alternatively, hold for several years and behold come Open That Bottle Night in 2014.