Monday, February 25, 2013

Open That Bottle Night XIV

Saturday was the fourteenth annual Open that Bottle Night.  John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter, who were at the Wall Street Journal when this began, came up with the idea.  Most wine drinkers have bottles squirreled away for special occasions, and often that special occasion never seems to come along.  These folks decided that the last Saturday in February would be the special occasion to open one of those bottles.  They have since moved on to Palate Press, but OTBN continues.

My bottle for the celebration this year was a 1990 E. Guigal Hermitage.  Twenty-two plus years was long enough to wait on this wine and since there were some braised short ribs and polenta rounds, it was time to open this particular bottle.

I am often hesitant to open older bottles and decant them too far ahead of time, and that was the case here.  I opened the bottle about an hour before dinner, decanted three quarters of it and vacuum sealed the rest for a second day.  No need to describe the color because that is it at the top of this post.  The wine had a beautiful aroma of red and dark fruit, earth and a bit of clean leather.  This is another wine that gave me almost as much enjoyment from sniffing it as it did from drinking it.

That color is not all what a young Hermitage looks like and there was much sediment on the bottom of the bottle that had settled for the week that it sat upright.

The taste was textbook for Syrah, meaty and gamey, full of ripe tart cherries and that sense of earth.  Full flavored, great acid with a truly remarkable sense in the mid-palate.  The finish lasted for more than 30 seconds and ended with soft tannins that were like a super soft towel wiping the palate in preparation for the next sip.  Northern Rhone wines are rarely described as elegant, but this one was.  My only complaint about the wine was that it was my last bottle.

On Sunday I poured about half the remaining wine in the bottle into a glass and then poured the rest through a very fine mesh strainer to remove the sediment, and it took more than five minutes for the wine to drip through that strainer.  The wine had not suffered in any way from being under vacuum overnight.  It had softened and become even more elegant.  Just a superb wine!

1990 E. Guigal Hermitage.  13% alcohol and $50 when purchased in 1995. 

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