As some of you already know, tomorrow (the last Saturday in February) is Open That Bottle Night (OTBN), which was an event originated back in the year 2000 by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, the revered then-wine-writers at the Wall Street Journal (yes, the same publication in which my wife recently appeared [she is the one on the left]—Warning: don’t read that article unless you are in the mood to be really sad). The premise of OTBN is fairly simple: Most wine drinkers that have more than a few bottles in the house, have at least one bottle that they covet above all others. They are saving that bottle for a special occasion: perhaps a promotion, the birth of a child, your team winning the national championship in football.
For whatever reason, that bottle is not opened: the event never comes (you get fired), the event is deemed not worthy (your sister-in-law turns out to be a complete, well, “bad person” and you never get to see the kid), or the event is not all that special (you are an insufferable Michigan fan, in which case, you will likely never celebrate a national championship).
So the bottle sits, waiting to be enjoyed.
Thus the brilliant idea set forth by Gaiter and Brecher was to make the opening of the bottle itself the event. Their theory was, essentially, that you have waited long enough for the “right moment” but that “right moment” might never come, so just Open That Bottle.
We have “celebrated” OTBN at least the last ten years and look forward to it each year. Over my years of being a wine snob, I have amassed a few “that bottles” so I am fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it) to be able to choose from a few to open for each time. This year, I have narrowed it down to five.
1999 Domaine Remy Bursot Le Duo de Bourgogne Beaune 1er Cru Bressandes: I bought this wine at the winery back in 2002 while leading a bike tour through Burgundy. We had stopped at this little producer in Chambolle-Musigny somewhat on a whim, and ended up doing a two-hour plus tasting. The first hour, the tasting was lead by Remy’s 12-year-old son since his mother and father were still out in the vineyard tending to the vines (for the second hour, Remy joined us). I have consumed two of the three bottles of this Pinot Noir (the last in 2012) that I schlepped around Burgundy on my bike–and both have been fabulous.
1971 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux Clos du Bourg: I bought this Chenin Blanc off an online “friend” of mine several years ago and you likely do not want to know what I paid (it was not much). I visited Domaine Huet for the first time this past fall–a couple of years after the much talked about departure of the legendary wine maker, Noel Pinguet (who left, seemingly, as a result of a conflict with the relatively “new” American owners). This bottle, though, predates Noel by a few years, when his father, Gaston, was the winemaker.
1997 Mailly Grand Cru Champagne Cuvée les Echansons: This bottle was given as a gift from a good friend after we rode our bikes through the Alpes and then on to Champagne (the picture on this blog with all the champagne loaded onto the back of the bike comes from that trip–in fact, this bottle was one of those on the bike!). It comes from one of our favorite Champagne houses, Mailly Grand Cru, which is a co-operative located in the middle of the village of Mailly.
1979 Château Les Ormes de Pez: I am not entirely sure when I acquired this classic Bordeaux blend bottle, but I do know that I got it in an online auction, it comes from one of the top Cru Bourgeois producers (it was, in fact, one of the 9 wineries to receive the top Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel designation in the now defunct 2003 classification, but that is for another article). I also know that this wine is not getting any better and, in fact, is likely in decline.
1976 Deinhard Winkeler Hasensprung Riesling Auslese: We drank the first bottle of this a couple of years ago when Oliver (The Winegetter) was in town. As some of you may know, Oliver is as close to an “expert” on German Riesling as any of us will ever likely know, so it seemed like a good fit to open it with him. Well, similar to the Ormes de Pez, this is likely not getting any better, but I have been waiting for the “right” time to open it (I can’t wait for Oliver to come back to Philly forever).
So which wine do you think I should open this year?