Last Saturday (27 Feb) was an important day in the wine drinker’s calendar – Open That Bottle Night; an evening where wine lovers all around the world gather around their friends and family and use it as an opportunity to open that special bottle of wine that’s been sitting rather forlornly on the shelf awaiting an occasion auspicious enough to warrant its opening.
My brother was down with his wife to celebrate her birthday and we’d spent the afternoon at Benares (see link for the review). I left myself a bit of time to watch England beat Ireland in the Six Nations rugby (yay!) before I started preparations for the continuation of our birthday libations.
I started us off with a Home-Made Basil Pesto Pasta served with a Smoked Salmon and Creamed Cheese Roulade, which was designed to be rather light (particularly after our relatively heavy lunch). I put some cayenne pepper in the roulade which I think I added just a touch too much of and, consequently, there was a fair kick to the dish.
The starter was designed to match against a wine that my brother had brought with him, a 2011 Au Bon Climat “Hildegard” Estate Bottled Table Wine (Santa Maria Valley, California) which was made from 50% Pinot Gris, 40% Pinot Blanc, 10% Aligote. I am always pleased to drink anything from Au Bon Climat so I was particularly excited to try this wine.
On the nose it had notes of lemons, as well as some slightly tropical notes which reminded me of lychees. It also featured some slightly bready/yeasty secondary aromas. When tasted it was bright and racy with a lemon/lime profile. What impressed me was that it seemed to possess quite a bit of weight on the mid-palate, which gave the wine a very long finish. Overall, I think the tartness of the wine was a good match for the creaminess of the roulade, we were off to a good start!
Next up was a dish that I was very excited about. I’d bought some amazing venison from my splendid local butcher and made it into a Venison Goulash served with Gnocchi. I’d initially thought about slow-cooking this during the day, but I decided against it. The meat had a tremendous flavour and structure and I wanted to enjoy this when we ate it, to this end I started it off before we went out for lunch, then turned off the heat and put it back on once we were enjoying the starter. The result was a rich, deep stew with some really hearty chunks of delicious venison – yum!
I’d picked this dish, because I’d got a wine that was going to need something big to accompany it: 2010 Le Serre Nuove Dell’Ornellaia (Bolgheri, Tuscany), which is the second wine from the illustrious Ornellaia estate. I’ve never tried their first wine (maybe I’ll get one in for next year’s OTBN?), but I was very excited to try out their second wine.
On the nose it had intense black cherry aromas accompanied by some oak-inspired sweet spice notes of cloves and cinnamon, as the wine sat some blackcurrant flavours started to develop too. On tasting, the dominant flavour was of a really deep and rich black cherry, which was accompanied by a blueberry-like juiciness. The mid-palate was a more savoury affair with dark chocolate and slight tobacco notes, the balance of which gave an extremely long finish. This was every bit as super as one would hope for from this Super Tuscan!
For dessert, I had planned to cook a Tarte Tatin, however by this point we were unable to eat any more. To be fair, we’d probably been a bit ambitious what with our Michelin-starred lunch still sitting in there somewhere too.
Not to be deterred, however, we opened the sweet wine that I’d had on my rack for a few years and had been itching to open, a 2003 Rheinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtropfchen Erste Lage Riesling Spätlese (Mosel, Germany). As you’d expect from a 13 year old Riesling, it sat a pleasing light gold in the glass. On the nose it had marmalade aromas with some touches of mango, there was also the characteristic whiff of kerosene that told me that this was going to be good! On tasting the acidity was bright and juicy, which really left the mouth-watering. The flavour profile was predominantly pineapple, but it possessed a juiciness that reminded me of a very ripe pear. This wine would have gone nicely with a pudding, but it was also very pleasant on its own as an ersatz pudding.
So there you have it, three exceptional wines opened for a very successful Open That Bottle Night.
I wonder what will be gracing my table for #OTBN2017??
Did you celebrate #OTBN2016? If so, what did you uncork?