Recently, I have been rotating my lay-down (a.k.a.-aging) cellar trying to move older vintages to our drink-now wine captain when I ran across a Merlot from South Coast Winery. This particular bottle was from the Wild Horse Peak Mountain Vineyard, which is at an elevation of 2200 feet, and is blessed with granite soils, warm days and cool evenings. But as I was holding the bottle, I noticed it was a 2004. I thought for sure I had screwed the pooch. No way was a Temecula Valley wine going to stand up all these years. I was prepared to pour it down the drain and was already thinking which wine to select next in its place. There are many well-produced wines from this southern California appellation but let’s just be frank, they are nowhere near Napa or Bordeaux, age worthy quality.
So I decanted the wine and to my surprise and delight, this 2004 had kept quite nicely. It was delicious. It was well rounded with soft plum and toffee flavors and the color was a deep, majestic purple. We polished off the bottle in no time.
But having dodged this close call with keeping a wine too long, I decided it was time to schedule an ”Open that Bottle Night”. Back in 2000, I fell in love with the writing of John Brecher and Dottie Gaiter, a husband and wife wine columnist team for the Wall Street Journal. Back in 2000, they created this event and it started a wonderful tradition that I eagerly anticipated each February. Well, they have left their positions at the paper but their idea still resonates with me so in their honor, I’d like to schedule a Fall “Open that Bottle Night”. So here is how it works.
On October 13th, plan an event where you are forced to finally open that bottle. Which bottle? You know the one. It’s that bottle that your grandfather gave you for your college graduation or that bottle you brought back from your Tuscan vacation or that expensive bottle you bought for your 40th birthday. It’s that bottle that you have yet to open years later because no occasion ever seems special enough for you to pop the cork. Well Oct. 13th is the night.
The idea is to plan a special dinner with your significant other or a group of friends. Think about the wine or champagne you will be serving and then plan a menu around that bottle. You can share your story of how you came into this bottle and most importantly, drink that special bottle before it goes south.
I’ll keep you posted on the wines we’ll be opening. Yes, I used the plural of wine because I have lots of bottles that I believe I should let go. I’ve had them too long and I’m ready to share them with a few like-minded friends.
Feel free to drop me a note on what plans you have for your special bottle, along with the food you’ll be serving. Then afterwards, we can share stories,of how the wines tasted. Let’s keep our fingers crossed you‘ll get as lucky as I did and that bottle will still has the amazing qualities you expected and it won’t disappoint.