Meeting a Legend

Just a brief tidbit today. Last week Dorothy (Dottie) Gaiter, senior editor at the Grape Collective, former wine columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and creator (along with her husband John Brecher), of the widely popular Open That Bottle Night (OTBN), dropped me an email.

For those of you that have not heard of OTBN, it occurs on the last Saturday of February and the idea is simple yet brilliant: many of us have a bottle of wine (or seven) that we have been reserving for a “special occasion” to open. For whatever reason, that occasion never seems to come and we never get around to opening “that bottle.”

Well Dottie and John decided that the opening of the bottle itself should be the occasion so they created Open That Bottle Night to encourage us to do just that.


Dottie and John are the two to the far right in the third row.

I met Dottie and John a few months prior at the Piper Heidsieck Vins Clairs tasting and I was smart enough to hand her a card. She contacted me this week since she was getting an article together about this year’s Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) and wanted to know what I might be opening this year (OTBN is on February 27th this year).

Well, when Dottie Gaiter asks for your input, you give it.

Today, she published the thoughts on OTBN that she collected from several people who will be “celebrating” this year including my buddy Anatoli of Talk-a-Vino and yours truly. If you have not already, you should go over to the Grape Collective and check out the article.

As I wrote to Dottie, I am considering opening the following three bottles:

1985 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon

1985 Inglenook Reunion

1985 Graham Porto Vintage

She had asked for a little more information as to how I came across these bottles and while that information did not make the final edit in her article, I thought I would publish it here.

The Dom I bought at the end of my first summer leading bike trips in France. I was a high school teacher at the time and I spent the three summer months riding through France, Switzerland, and Italy. I was just learning about wine and I had received some great advice: the owner of the company, an oenophile whose85 Dom father used to write about wine for the New Yorker (I think), suggested that I start with one region, learn everything I could about it, and then slowly branch out from there. I chose Champagne for no other region than my mentor knew the least about the land of bubbles. I would be back in Paris every third or fourth week and there was a wine shop not too far from the tour company’s office where I would go and browse the champagnes, trying to learn from the labels. At the end of the summer, I had a few Francs (it was the early ’90s) left and the day before I was to fly back, I bought a bottle of 1985 Dom Pérignon for what I considered to be a good deal (300FF if I remember correctly, about $50). I wrapped it up in socks and a sweatshirt, stuffed it into my valise, and prayed that it would survive the journey back.

As soon as I pulled the bag off the luggage belt, I tore through the bag to check on its condition (I did it with such fervor that if I were to do the same today, I am sure I would attract the attention of the authorities).

The bottle survived, but I am not quite sure how it was inadvertently deleted from my inventory.

Needless to say, I was elated to “find” it!

The Inglenook story is far less compelling: I bought it (along with another 150 bottles or so) from a gentleman who was selling off his entire wine collection due to a health issue. He had a collection of nearly 3000 bottles, 85 Reunionbut came down with Hepatitis C and could no longer drink. He was so depressed, he did not even open the cellar door for over a decade after the diagnosis. He had already sold off most of the trophy wines (several cases of first growths) by the time I came across him (through an online auction). He lives fairly close, so he contacted me directly to see if I wanted to purchase what remained of his collection. We agreed on a single price for what amounted to 288 bottles. I paid $1500 for the lot and spilt it with a friend. So the bottle ended up costing me $5.21. Of my 144 bottles, there were a few clunkers, but mostly gems. The Inglenook is the last bottle from that lot.

Not a bad deal.

I am pretty sure the ‘865 Graham was a gift a while ago, but I was not very into port at the time, so I did not realize what it was (or obviously take the time to enter it into Cellar Tracker!).

There you have it, my plans for OTBN this year, at least for now. I will let you know how they turn out.

Are you participating in OTBN this year?


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Champagne, Open That Bottle Night, Port and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Meeting a Legend

  1. Jill Barth says:

    Yes! It will be our first time — I’m not sure which bottle we’ll open but I’m thinking it might be one that a friend recently gave me from his cellar! So much fun, and good work on the fabulous mention!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. talkavino says:

    It was definitely great meeting Dorothy in person, and it is a great pleasure to be mentioned in her article! I need to see if I can pull something here in Stamford or the area for OTBN… Still have no idea what I will open…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Valeriekq says:

    Sounds like a delightful evening! I came to love port at a special tasting at the Digital Wine Writers Conference a few years ago. Kopke tasted us through the decades, going all the way back to a 1940 port. My conference buddy and I made an executive decision that spitting was not an option when we got to that last magical glass. Cannot wait to read how they all drink!

    Very sad to miss OTBN festivities in our house this year. Last year we did a historical wine from Priorat, 1974 Scala Dei, I still smile thinking about it…

    Buon weekend! Val

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Open That Bottle Night 2016: What Wine Are You Going To Open? | Talk-A-Vino

  5. jimvanbergen says:

    Reblogged this on jvb uncorked and commented:
    Life is short, so join OTBN and open that bottle!
    Check out my friend Jeff’s (The Drunken Cyclist) excellent blog post about OTBN.

    I have a vintage port I’m thinking about opening for OTBN, how about you?


    Liked by 1 person

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