Open That Bottle Night 2008

By Kori ~ February 28th, 2008.

This year’s Open That Bottle Night was last Saturday, February 23. Open That Bottle Night, created by Wall Street Journal wine columnists Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, is the one night a year that we are all encouraged to get out that bottle of wine that is so special that no special occasion seems special enough to actually open it. Just open it already…and enjoy!

20080228_henschke.jpgThat’s exactly what the Wine Peeps did when we got together for dinner and opened a bottle of 1992 Henschke Hill of Grace that Dad (John) had been saving. The four of us fell in love with Australia and Australian wines when we visited in the spring of 2005. One of our favorite stops in our wine touring of the Barossa Valley was Henschke. The people were extremely friendly and welcoming. The cellar door (tasting room) had a warm, rustic feel. And the wines (all 15 or so that they insisted we taste) were excellent. A picture of their tasting bar with the lineup of wines was included in my Australia really wants your business post last week. We were there during harvest so we were able to see the winery in full action. Henschke’s Hill of Grace wine is 100 percent Shiraz from their Hill of Grace vineyard and is one of the two most famous wines in all of Australia, the other being Penfolds Grange. From Henschke’s website:

“Hill of Grace: this surely is one of the most evocative phrases in the world of wine. It is a translation from the German ‘Gnadenberg’, a region in Silesia, and the name given to the lovely Lutheran Church across the road. For Henschke it is the name of both the vineyard and the wine that has so captured the heart of the red wine lover.”

Since our family is Lutheran, seeing the lovely church and its connection to the vineyard gave the wine even more significance for us.

20080228_henschke2.jpgWhile the wonderful folks at Henschke gave us tastes from $70+ bottles, obviously their top-of-the-line Hill of Grace was not open for tasting. Upon returning home, Dad set out to buy a bottle to see if it was all it’s hyped to be. Since it has great aging potential, he wanted to buy a bottle that already had some age on it so that we could enjoy it sooner. He decided on the 1992 vintage which is considered to be one of their better (although probably not their best) vintages. Once he had it in the cellar, all he needed was an occasion to drink it. Enter Open That Bottle Night.

So Saturday night we sat down to a wonderful dinner of beef tenderloin with sautéed mushrooms, baked sweet potatoes, and steamed broccoli prepared by Mom (LaGayle) and opened that special bottle of Hill of Grace. It did not disappoint! It received two thumbs up from all four Peeps and was definitely worth the wait.

20080228_hillofgrace.jpg1992 Henschke Hill of Grace: 100% Shiraz. Brilliant with very little dilution in color on the rim despite the fact that it is 16 years old. Very perfumy and peppery with floral hints on the nose. Chewy and full-bodied. Lots of black pepper and black fruits on the palate. Not as overtly tannic or as alcoholic as most big wines. Very smooth and extremely well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Vintage Wines (California), $299.99

While our goal at Wine Peeps is to find excellent wines that are also excellent values, it sure can be fun to splurge every once in a while.

If you missed this year’s OTBN, go ahead and open your special bottle anyway. Or you can join us for next year’s OTBN on Saturday, February 28, 2009 (always the last Saturday in February).

Filed under: Australian Wine, Five-Star Quality Wines, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Wines Over $25

Reader's Comments

  1. karen | October 20th, 2009 at 8:43 am

    We held an “OTBN” night a few years ago and it was a riot! We held it at an Italian restaurant set menu so it was easy! Many people brought wine they had been saving only to find when opened it was vinegar! I remember those bottles more than some of the other great wines opened. Just think how disappointing it would have been had they opened the bottle by themselves on a truly “special” occasion.
    I would encourage everyone to have “OTBN” nights. Dorothy and John’s book “Love by the Glass” is a great read about love, life and wine.
    Don’t wait for a special occasion to open that bottle….Open that bottle and MAKE it a special occasion!

  2. Kori | October 27th, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks for sharing your OTBN experience. We have enjoyed participating the past couple of years. I couldn’t agree with you more…just open that bottle and make it a special occasion. Great advice! Cheers!