“Open That Bottle Night” has become a much-lauded evening among wine drinkers and especially those that write blogs. Actually, this is the first time that I have ventured into this “holiday.” The concept was created by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher who were wine columnists for the Wall Street Journal and they picked out a night in February, one of the darker and colder months, to go into one’s wine cellar and open up a bottle that one has been holding onto, just for the right moment. A very worthwhile idea, because we are all guilty of saving some bottles of wine for a special moment, that just never seems to occur. I think the main reason that I have never participated in it, is that I tend to be rather unorganized when it comes to such things. We tend to have a couple of bottles of wine open in the house most days, but they are our “go-to” basic wines that don’t require a lot of fan-fare or hoopla, but somehow, I have managed to write about most of them in the past five years.
“Open That Bottle Night” was on the same night as my Sister’s surprise birthday party, so I decided to go and grab something interesting and decided to keep it a secret from my Bride. I think that sometimes she gets embarrassed if we have indulged in too many fancy wines at any given time. The second surprise of the evening was when I opened up a bottle of Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc 2000 from Napa Valley. Lang & Reed Wine Company was founded by John and Tracey Skupay and they just enjoyed classic Cabernet Franc wines from France and thought that it could be achieved in Napa Valley as well in a single variety wine. The fruit came from the Wood Ranch and Mueller Vineyard both in Rutherford and from the Stanton Vineyard in Oakville. The wine is aged in French Oak for nine and a half months and this was their sixth vintage. I was amazed that this wine showed absolutely no signs of old age, it was so mellow and round, that I thought that my Bride might cut me off, so that she could enjoy more of it, it was that elegant, and I only wish that I had more.
The other thing that happened that evening that was unique, was that my one cousin who master-minded the surprise birthday party gave the other fellow co-conspirators a gift as well. We were each given a bottle of Ararat Five Star Brandy from the Yerevan Brandy Company of Armenia, which was a great gift, as it is no longer marketed in Michigan and I had emptied my last bottle years ago, to my dismay. All I could find out that the wine is made from small white Armenian grapes, but they were not identified. It is estimated that there are thirty to forty wine varieties that are indigenous to Armenia, perhaps some going back to that vineyard that Noah planted when the Ark landed at Mount Ararat in biblical times. The most notable white grapes from the area are Voskehat, Kangun, Muscat Vardabuyr, Garan Dmak and Chilar; so, I will presume that it is one or more of those used in production. Ararat Brandy is still marketed in the Russian speaking parts of the former Soviet States as Cognac, because the company won the Grand-Prix in competition in France in 1900, and they were legally allowed to call their product “Cognac,” but not with the Origen laws in place in Europe, that is not allowed. I might add that we all enjoyed a shot of this brandy during the evening in remembrance of my late Father who was named after the famous mountain and not for the brandy.