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Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

Open That Bottle Night 2009 – North Square Restaurant

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Mar 3, 2009.

After much anticipation Snooth’s OTBN was apon us! We were meeting in the wonderfully elegant Deco Room at North Square Restaurant here in New York City to celebrate, well, celebrating! That is, of course, the point of OTBN. Begun a decade ago precisely in order to give people the reason to celebrate and open that special bottle that had always seemed to warrant a more celebratory occasion. We were fortunate to have partnered up with Wilson Daniels this year and participated in their Twitter taste Live virtual tasting of four great wines but more on that later! Here I am opening THAT bottle!

Well I can’t think of a better time to open a great bottle than having the opportunity to share it with 22 generous winelovers! And so it was that we filled the bar with treasure after treasure as we began a night of modest excess. It all began with a glass of Schramsberg’s wonderful 2005 Cremant Demi-sec . The theme for this years OTBN was after all exploration and discovery and this was a chance for people to learn more about the Flora grape and one of it’s parents, Gewurtztraminer. The Cremant was wonderful with gentle floral notes and a wonderfully fresh yestiness that recalled fresh brie. The sweetness was just perceptible and balanced well by brisk acidity.

We moved on to our 2 starter whites, generously provided by Wilson Daniels. Up first was the 2005 Marc Kreydenweiss Kritt Pinot Blanc with it’s sapid acidity and soil inflected juicy white fruits it was a mouth-watering start to our dinner service. We followed this up with the 2006 Pierre Morey Bourgogne-Aligoté . Bracing as Aligoté can be but with a wonderfully ripe citrus quality and firm mineral tones on the finish it was a fabulous aperitif wine and I wish I had gotten the Tuna tartar to pair with this!

We then moved on to the pair of reds supplied by our friends at Wilson Daniels beginning with the 2005 Marc Kreydenweiss Costières-de-nîmes Domaine Des Perrieres . This Alsatian producer has expanded into southern France with this biodynamic offering and it’s a great little wine with classic tobacco and earth tinged raspberry fruit and just a hint of funk adding depth. As good as the Kreydenweiss was the 2006 Campo Di Sasso Insoglio Del Cinghiale blew it away. With a hugely aromatic nose redolent of black minerals, rosemary stems, and rich, perfectly ripe black fruits this was captivating. It’s a polished wine that is elegant yet richly flavored with great purity on the palate.

From here on out it was a bit of controlled chaos as people went searching for their wine. Actually it was not entirely a free for all as people “pimped” their wines for a short while but once the food began to arrive all bets were off! I worked my way through the wines trying almost every one and it went something like this:

1991 Eyrie Chardonnay Willamette Valley Reserve - This was such a treat and in incredibly fine shape with gentle fruit and perfectly proportioned soil and wood spice tones adding complexity. The acidity has kept this wonderfully vibrant and delicious. My white wine of the night!

1999 Verget Chablis Grand Cru Bougros - I would have guessed this was new world and the Eyrie old if I had to! Lovely crisp apple fruit is winning the battle with the oak and this is in a bit of a strange place right now as the wood is still adding a bit of sweetness but that acid and minerality powers through on the crisp, cleansing finish.

2003 Pfaffenheim Muscat - Wow, can you smell the Key Lime pie? Redolent of fresh lime zest and cut grass this smelled sweet but was dry and rich on the palate with nice lemon drop fruit.

2007 Dönnhoff Kreuznacher Krötenpfuhl Riesling Spätlese - Insane! This is my third time with this wine and it’s as impressive as ever with real power and superb balance. Great Reisling. Nuff said! Tied for my second place white WOTN!

1994 Gunter Steinmetz Mülheimer Sonnenlay Riesling Spätlese - As much as I loved the Donnhoff, and I love Donnhoff, this took things to another level with diesel, mineral and honey notes on the nose that made you think this was mature but an amazingly rich, vibrant, and drippingly fruited palate that let you know this zesty wine has years of life ahead of it.! Tied for my second place white WOTN!

With the whites out of the way I moved on to the reds and this is really were all hell broke loose. No matter how many glasses I had I always seemed to be one or two short but I did my best to keep up with the overwhelming flow and this is how I did it.

1983 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stag's Leap Vineyards Napa Valley - From magnum this was just great with all the complexities one can get from older California Cabernet and the classic dusty velvet texture that makes these wines so much fun to drink. I loved this wine and for me it was Wine Of The Night!

1993 Lucien Boillot Volnay Les Caillerets - This had a wonderful tension in the mouth between bitter cherry fruit and a lovely gamy, nutty nuance. As expected it got lost a little between all the big fruit and tannin bombs but was memorable for it’s elegance.

1993 Armand Comte Pommard Clos des Epeneaux - from magnum - This on the other hand was pretty damn powerful, and a bit tight and short on the palate but it had an effusive perfume of sweet spice, woodsy aromas and black cherry fruit. I’ll check back in on this in 5 years if I can!

2003 Beaux Frères Pinot Noir Beaux Frères Vineyard - I thought this was a little older than 2003 but it was still captivating with a gentle yet sweet nose and a lovely, lithe feel that is almost impossible to find in domestic pinot. I want to find more of this!

2006 ROAR Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands - I tasted this just briefly and it had some spritz so I put it aside to let it dissipate but II never got back to trying it. Darn!

2006 Moric Neckenmarkter Blaufrankisch - This was crazy good wine. Delicate yet precise with such detail and balance. I loved it and can’t wait till the next time me and this wild blackberry beauty have a chance to get to know each other a little better. Tied for my second WOTN!

By this time my lamb had arrived so fortunately I had a foil for some of the larger scaled wines to come. And boy did I need it! One after the other great wines appeared only to be replaced by another set of great wines. I was in heaven!

1987 Kistler Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley Kistler Vineyard - I have never smelled such a floral California Cabernet before and this was captivating. Great green olive and cassis notes as well and with the seductive texture only aged California Cabernet can have!

2004 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Backus - This was a bruiser but beat you with the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove! Great iron flecked crème de cassis fruit in a seamless velvety package. A great wine from one of my favorite vineyards!

2002 Vergelegen Estate Red - This was just gorgeous on the nose with smoky, green chile, cassis and oak tones all layered and in balance. It’s a bit simple still on the palate but this flagship South African red has the stuffing to turn into something special!

1991 Carmenet Vin de Garde Reserve Selection - This was a bit peppery and stern and reminded me a bit of 1986 Bordeaux with it’s powerful expression of tobacco tinged fruit. This is an old style of California Cabernet that one rarely encounters today. Can you say Dunn Howell Mountain?

New world? Old world? The lines can get blurry sometimes and nowhere is that truer than in Spain these days. I’ll be posting my impressions from an old Rioja tasting soon and along with the notes is my take on Tempranillo these days. I go off on a lot of producers who are trying to make Tempranillo in to something it’s not and while I genuinely believe that sometimes the results make me reconsider my position, for a little while at least!

2004 CVNE Pagos De Viña Real - No mistaking this for anything but a huge, modern Rioja but the black raspberry and vanilla tones are in balance and the wine is big yet so smooth and polished that you can’t help but like it, just give it a few years in the cellar.

2004 Buil & Giné Montsant Baboix - This is another decidedly modern Spanish bruiser and it’s packed with lovely herbal, mineral and spice tones embedded in rich cassis and blackberry fruit. It’s intensely spicy and really deserves something rich and spicy to cut through!

As modern as the last pair was I moved back into two classics from France, Bordeaux and Chateauneuf. Both were real treats and matched perfectly with my lamb chops.

1989 Clos du Mont Olivet Chateauneuf du Pape la Cuvee du Papet - Who wants the funk? Bring on the funk! And black olives, leather, lavender, mushrooms, you got it all on the nose and while the palate was wonderful with lovely truffly edges this had started to thin out a bit but was still fabulous.

1982 Château Grand Puy Lacoste - Classic freaking Bordeaux! This had that restrained power and endless layers of flavor that only Bordeaux can offer. As much as I love the texture of mature California Cabernet the elegance and complexity of Bordeaux can bring things to an entirely different level. Tied for my second WOTN

And then I was left in my happy place; surrounded by Barolo! As you might know Nebbiolo to me is magical and while none of the Barolos tonight made it in to my top five wines I was thrilled to be ending my night with them!

1997 Paolo Scavino Barolo Rocche dell'Annunziata Riserva - And as much as I love Barolo I didn’t feel the love here. While the nose offered up nice mushroom, rose and licorce scents there were loosing the battle with the spicy wood. Pretty much the same in the mouth, the fruit was intact and nice but all the complexity came from the wood so I didn’t get much depth here.

1982 Brovia Barolo Rocche Dei Brovia - This was great in it’s own way. A very good wine, but just a great glass to drink at the end of the night. Lacking some complexity as well, but just so bright and balanced with fine red berry fruits and a slightly gamy twang on the finish. I was refreshed!

1989 Marchese di Barolo Cannubi Barolo - While I preferred the Brovia to this I can’t say one is better than the other, just different. This had more complexity and deeper fruit but was a bit less elegant and refreshing. It’s still a delicious glass of big black cherry fruit.

We spent the night trying to Twitter our notes as we participated in Twitter Taste Live with our virtual drinking companions but it was not with much success. Connectivity, in the virtual sense, was limited in the dining room but that didn't prevent us from trying!

There was one bottle that I missed the 2005 Turley Howell Mountain Zinfandel . Can anyone let me know what it’s like? And with that I was left with the 2 dessert wines. First up was the rather crappy bottle of 1985 Warres Port . Alcoholic, disjointed and volatile it’s only redeeming feature was that it was marginally sweet and smelled faintly of fruit. I chose to move on an end my night with the fairly remarkable 2005 Feiler-Artinger - Ruster Ausbruch Essenz . Intense and intensely sweet yet with such incredible acidity that this never became cloying and the mineral notes on the finish cut right through the remaining fresh fruity sweetness so it never became over-powering or boring either. Simply a great sip with which to end a brilliant evening.

I want to thank everyone who helped make this evening so special.

Thanks to Wilson Daniels for their support and generous contributions

Thanks to North Square for taking such good care of us.

And thanks to everyone who made this such a special evening with their generous contributions and brilliant company. I can’t wait to do this again. Do you really want to wait an entire year? I know I don’t!

Gregory Dal Piaz is the Community Manager at Snooth, an avid Wine Geek with a passion for things Italian, and a long suffering Mets fan.


Reply by Mark Angelillo, Mar 3, 2009.

What a fantastic evening. I can't wait for the next one. Great writeup, Greg, and great pictures, Mike.

Reply by Eric Guido, Mar 5, 2009.

Great night, great wines, just too bad that mine was the bastard Barolo of the evening.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Mar 6, 2009.

Eric, it was still very generous of you. Thank you!

I'm sure there are plenty of people who do not share our opinion of that particular wine. One of the great things about these large scaled tastings is that you are exposed to things outside your comfort zone and are able to compare and contrast differing styles of wine-making.

I am glad I got to try your wine. It just adds to my overall picture of Scavino, the vintage, and the region!

Thanks again

Reply by Eric Guido, Mar 6, 2009.

Greg, don't think I'm upset or anything, I just wish I had brought something you enjoyed more. I had a great time and can't wait to do it again.

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