Every year the last Saturday in February is “Open That Bottle Night,” a night where wine lovers all over the globe have an excuse to open that bottle they have been saving for a “special” occasion. This is a night filled with parties and gatherings of friends or just a quiet home celebration where outstanding wines are poured and enjoyed. A local wine establishment hosts a party every year with food and music; the cost of admission is one bottle per person of whatever you chose to bring and share. Last year we had some friends over and dove into some truly outstanding wines: Joseph Phelps 2002 Insignia, Merryvale 2010 Profile and Cliff Lede 2010 High Fidelity Red Wine to name a few. This year I was feeling less inclined to participate, I’ll explain momentarily; however, I knew OTBN was the upcoming theme for March’s #WinePW and I did not want to miss out on the fun. The reason I hesitated to participate in OTBN was because I have a decent cellar selection; however, most of the wines in my cellar are young. I was spoiled at TexSom this past summer; tasting so many aged wines really convinced me that if properly aged wine just gets better and better (to a point). Therefore, my husband will attest to the fact that I rarely want to open any of the wines we have stored because I am certain by 2020 and beyond these wines will be outstanding. So you see it is not that I have special wines I am saving for a special occasion that never comes; rather, I am simply aging wines so that every time I open these wines in the future will be special occasion. It will be worth the wait. Additionally, I simply did not want to go buy an older bottle of wine just to open on OTBN. Yes, I was putting way to much thought into the event; welcome to my world!
When my husband and I were in Santa Barbara County this past January we tasted and bought a lot of outstanding wines! (In case you are wondering we have not opened a single bottle of what we bought except one.) When we were tasting wine at Rusack with winemaker Steven Gerbac he shared with us they had some library wines they were selling. Old wine? Yes, I was interested. We bought of couple bottles the 02 Pinot Noir and Syrah. My husband looked at me with a Cheshire cat grin and said we are opening these when we get home! Fair enough. As I was fretting over OTBN I remembered these two wines, should we or shouldn’t we, I could not decide so I asked him and was met with a resounding YES! OK, he wanted to open the SRH Reserve Pinot Noir…..
Rusack 2002 Santa Rita Hills Reserve Pinot Noir: The wine poured a deep, inky garnet with a brownish orange rim into the glass. As I was opening the bottle I the cork crumbled to pieces and a pungent smell was released from the bottle. As I poured the wine into the decanter it was immediately obvious it was corked. It was not 100% bad because it did offer faint aromas of red fruit but the fruit was overpowered by a burnt aroma, which is quite contradictory to the pleasant aromas of a Pinot Noir. On the palate (yes I tasted it) it offered flavors of cherries, spice and tobacco enveloped in barnyard, ash and badly charred wood. It was heavy and tasted of a much higher alcohol content than the 13% on the label indicated. Overall it was bitter and unpleasant. I am sharing this with you for two reasons: 1) Rusack crafts beautiful wines, knowing that fact alone was enough to know this wine had gone bad; 2) I feel it is helpful to have some understanding of what a corked wine exhibits because it is not always 100% obvious a wine has gone bad. Like I said, this wine seemed to offer about 25% of drinkability left in it; though it was not pleasant it was not rank or disgusting. A wine going bad is a process that does not happen overnight; some people can take more “funk” than others, I am one of those people. However, a Pinot Noir is not the wine I want to “funk” with. J Our biggest disappointment came from the fact we just bought this wine a month ago from the Rusack winery. So on to a very spontaneous plan b!
Caymus 2010 Napa Valley Zinfandel: This wine poured an inviting deep violet into the glass and opened with rich aromas of red fruit and spice. On the palate this smooth and sultry wine delivered flavors of rich red cherries, blackberries, black currants, raspberries and black raspberries, along with Asian spice, tobacco, smoke, dark chocolate and a touch of cedar and vanilla. It had a great structure of round acidity and integrated tannins that had a full mouth feel and lingering finish. In a word SUPERB! 14.5% alcohol. This wine is crafted predominately from Zinfandel grapes with a touch of Petit Sirah sourced from the Butala vineyard in St. Helena and was aged in both French and American oak that consisted of 75% new and 25% seasoned barrels. SRP $35.
This year we were not able to celebrate this evening with friends due to a hectic schedule so I made dinner and my husband and I enjoyed an evening good wine, food and a movie with our teenagers. One of my favorite foods to pair with Zinfandel is lamb so I made mini lamb chops coated in an herb crust and sautéed on my gas stove in a cast iron grill pan, served along with curried couscous and asparagus. It was a delicious dinner and my husband said he felt like he was at a restaurant. The peppery herbs and richness of the lamb along with the curry spices blended beautifully with the bodacious Zinfandel. It truly was an outstanding dinner! In the end, though we did not open the best bottle of Caymus in our cellar; the Zinfandel was outstanding; a perfect selection for Open That Bottle Night.
Caymus Vineyards is an iconic family owned and operated Napa Valley vineyard. Charles Wagner, his wife Lorna Belle Glos Wagner and their teenage son Chuck started Caymus Vineyards in 1971.
From the Caymus web site:
The Wagners produced their first vintage in 1972, consisting of 240 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon. Since then, Caymus has focused their efforts in the production of quality Cabernet Sauvignon. Today’s production is 65,000 cases.
Caymus Vineyards remains 100% family-owned by the Wagners. Charlie, Lorna Belle, and Chuck worked together as a remarkable team for over 30 years building Caymus Cabernet. Today, Chuck, his two sons, Charlie and Joe, and one daughter, Jenny, have joined the family team. Farming grapes remain the priority with the family farming about 350 acres of choice Napa Valley land.
The Wagners took the name Caymus from the Mexican land grant known as Rancho Caymus, given to George Yount in 1836, which encompassed what eventually became the town of Rutherford and much of the surrounding area.
Please read what my fellow #WinePW bloggers enjoyed on OTBN:
ENOFYLZ Wine Blog is sharing Friends, Food and Wine; An #OTBN To Remember #winePW.
Culinary Adventures with Camilla paired Roasted Flank Steak with Goat Cheese and Caperberries + La Marea 2012 Mourvèdre
Tasting Pour is sharing Chenin to Sheepie? Brava Cava! #Winewpw #OTBN
Pull That Cork served Crozes Hermitage and Braised Lamb with Puréed Root Vegetables for #winePW 10
Curious Cuisiniere paired Entrecote Bordelaise (Steak: Bordeaux Style) with Red Oak Vineyard Meritage
A Day in the Life on the Farm served up Michigan Red with City Chicken
Girls Gotta Drink is sharing A Priorat Wine Masterpiece: 1974 Scala Dei
Vino Travels paired Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello and Pappardelle with Bolognese
Grape Experiences is sharing Wine and Dine: 2012 Van Duzer Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and Chicken Breasts and Zucchini with Marjoram
Wild 4 Washington Wine paired A Special Oregon Pinot Noir with Eastern North Carolina Inspired Ribs
Cooking Chat paired Avocado Chimichurri Beef Tenderloin with a Reininger Carmenere
If you are catching the post early enough please join our live Twitter chat this morning at 10 am CST using #WinePW. Furthermore, please join us on Saturday, April 11 at 10 am CST on Twitter when A Day in the Life on the Farm leads us in wine pairings with early spring vegetables.
My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with the Caymus 2010 Zinfandel takes me back to the days of 90’s grunge and one of my favorite songs from that era, Cherub Rock by Smashing Pumpkins. I find Zinfandel to be a rocking grape, hard core yet smooth; it brings a lot to the palate but in the case of the Caymus Zin it does so in a way that is harmonious and quite pleasing, just like this song!
Get your own bottle of Caymus 2010 Zinfandel and let me know what song you would pair with it. Cheers!