Sunday, February 28, 2016

Open that Bottle Night

For almost 20 years the last Saturday in February has been Open That Bottle Night.  This was started by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher  who were the wine writers for the Wall Street Journal.  The idea was that those of us who squirrel away wine have those certain bottles that we are holding for 'that special moment to open and drink."   They chose the last Saturday in February and it has been that way since.  Find some friends, have a good meal and open those special bottles and enjoy them.

My choice this year was a 2004 Produttori del Barbaresco Moccagatta Riserva, a Barbaresco. 

The photos were in the early afternoon when the wine was opened and decanted to breathe, something this wine needed.  It was very closed up with little or no aroma coming out of it.  The taste was very flat and one dimensional, mostly tasting like cooked fruit.

After six hours in the decanter one would never guess this was the same wine.  The nose was full of flowers and tar and earth.  Tart, dried cherry flavors were gushing from the wine.  The earthiness was still there and the wine was full of sharp acid.   

Dinner was a thick, grilled rib eye steak cooked to the rare side of medium rare and a farotto made with enriched beef broth and porcini mushrooms.  This was a memorable pairing and a wonderful evening.  One small glass is left for a good sip tonight.

And as always with an exceptional bottle of wine the thought occurred to me, "why didn't I buy more of this?"

2004 Produttori del Barbaresca Moccagatta Riserva.  14% alcohol $50 several years ago. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Taste of Spring

The weather is in transition here moving from hard winter to bi-polar, warm and sunny one day to cold and snowy the next.  Several days ago the temperature was 73 degrees, breaking a record set in 1871.  That was followed by snow.  Today is another of those warm sunny days, and tomorrow there will be two inches of rain followed by more snow.

To celebrate the warm days we have a 12 Mile Limit cocktail.  The concoction contains white rum, rye whisky, cognac, lemon juice and a bit of grenadine.  It is definitely refreshing and is pictured here with a blood orange slice for a garnish.

The story behind the name goes back to 1920's when prohibition was in full swing and the country was dry.  There were party boats along the east coast which were moored just beyond what was then a three mile limit of U.S. sovereignty.   Smaller boats would ferry folks out to larger ones where every thing was legal. To combat that the government enacted a new twelve mile limit for territorial waters, a limit still in effect today.  The party boats then became ships and moved farther out, and the good times continued.  The 12 Mile Limit celebrates that move. How much truth there is in the story I don't know, but the cocktail is just the thing on a warm sunny day. 

Monday, February 22, 2016


There was a rare treat a few says ago in the form of a bottle of 1996 Vina Tondonia Reserva from R. Lopez de Heredia.  This was my first encounter with this particular wine from this producer, but I hope it's not the last.  It was a unique experience. 

While the color appeared oxidized the nose was not, but it was distinctly different.  There were notes of light caramel, vanilla and Macadamia nuts, but fruit was missing.  The taste was about walnuts, not too sweet honey, and ripe pears.  The acidity was great and this wine lasted three days without a suggestion of fading.  It was great with Serano ham, olives,  and mussels in a paprika and saffron laced, spicy mayonnaise.

The wine is a blend of 90% Viura and 10& Malvasia.  The search is on for more.

1996 Vina Tondonia Reserva from R. Lopez de Heredia.  12.5% alcohol and $24 when originally purchased. 

Friday, February 19, 2016


A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.     John Steinbeck, the Grapes of Wrath
And a small glass of Bourbon did nothing to detract from its beauty. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Winter Again

It was a very, very cold morning yesterday (8 degrees F. with a chill factor of -14 degrees). The dog and I decided to delay our walk until afternoon and by then the wind had died down and the temperatures rose to a balmy 16 degrees.  There were a few people out and about, but not many.  We managed to get in four miles.

We dropped by the local seafood market on the way home and the Thursday plane from the Atlantic coast was full of fresh seafood.   For a late afternoon treat there were six wild caught oysters from Martha's Vineyard and a wee nip of Lagavulin.  It was a good day.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016



A beautiful sunrise spoiled by one of the small necessities of life - electric power lines.  One minute later I was clear of the power lines but the colors were gone. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Fond Farewell

Along with the Highlands and Islands there is another type of whisky from Scotland, Lowland whisky.  It's a mellower take on whisky.  Case in point here is Rosebank, a distillery that ceased production in 1993 during hard times for producers.  It never reopened and the site was eventually turned into a shopping area.  Pity. 

Rosebank is/was elegant.  It smelled like flowers and spring and thanks to its triple distillation was smooth and gentle.  It was refined and flat out delicious.

What you see in the picture is the last of the bottle that I bought five years ago. Later tonight the bottle will be empty.  I don't normally get nostalgic about finishing a bottle of whisky, but this one is  a little different.  Not only was it delicious but it was also the last bottle that I shared with my father before his death four years ago. Details are unimportant here, just that there will be a smile and a toast tonight.

Internet searches tell me that if I want another bottle of Rosebank I should be prepared to pay $500 or much more.  This one was $80  but as time goes bye there is less and less of this product.  There won't be another at those prices, barring a lottery win.  I'm afraid my Scottish ancestors would haunt me for lack of frugality and common sense if I paid that amount.