Open that bottle!

Which dusty bottle shall I open?

Tomorrow is “Open That Bottle Night!” Who’s in?
Or, you may well ask, what is it?
A wine-geek tradition since 2000, Open That Bottle Night has become an annual observance since Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, the couple who wrote the Wall Street Journal‘s “Tastings” column from 1998 through 2010, came up with the idea 17 years ago.

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Montebernardi 2014 “Fuoristrada Off Road” Rosso Toscano Sangiovese ($14.99/1 liter)

Fuoristrada "Off Road"

This certified organic wine comes in a recyclable coated red-cardboard ‘TetraPak” box roughly the size and shape of a wine bottle. It pours dark reddish-purple, shading to a clear garnet edge. The aromas bespeak Tuscan Sangiovese with fresh and ripe cherry fruit, dried cherries and subtle spice. Fresh and tart, red and black berries and zippy, food-friendly acidity and 13.5% alcohol in a palate-cleansing flavor that lingers, adding a touch of tannic astringency in the finish. If you’re prejudiced against wines that come from a box, taste this one “blind” and prepare to have your attitude adjusted. Excellent value.

Look for vendors and compare prices for Montebernardi “Fuoristrada Off Road” Rosso Toscano Sangiovese on
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Il Viziato NV “The Spoiled One” Vino Rosso ($9.99)


An offbeat blend of 80 percent Sangiovese from Chianti Classico near Panzano in Tuscany with 20 percent Nero d’Avola from Sicily, this wine is made by an unusual technique: drying some of the grapes separately before introducing them back into the fermenting mix, concentrating the natural grape sugars for a more intense wine, although it still comes in at a moderate 13 percent alcohol. There is a note of dried cherries in the aroma, dancing with distinct though subtle scents of licorice and dried herbs. Full, juicy fruit flavors follow the nose, rather full body shaped up by zippy, mouth-watering acidity and astringent tannins, with tart dried fruit lingering in the finish.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: lists only a few vendors for Il Viziato NV “The Spoiled One” Vino Rosso, but it’s worth a look if you’re near one of these shops or can have them ship to you.

However, distributor Empson (U.S.A.) offers this handy online tool to find retailers that carry their portfolio in every U.S. state. Read article.

Tenuta La Badiola 2013 “642 Il Canapone” Maremma Toscana ($18.99)

Tenuta La Badiola

An unusual six-way blend of organically farmed grapes, the Italian varieties Sangiovese and Montepulciano with the French varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Syrah, this is a very dark purple wine shading to a bright garnet edge. Blackberries, dried cherries and a pleasant, restrained touch of vanilla in the aroma lead into an appealing medium-bodied flavor of ripe black fruit nicely balanced with crisp, refreshing acidity, joined by palatable tannins in a very long finish. Good balance and structure carry its 14 percent alcohol with grace.

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Lapostolle 2013 “Casa” Grand Selection Rapel Valley Carmenère ($10.99)

Lapostolle Carmenère

Very dark, almost blackish purple nearly all the way to a garnet edge. Blackberries and blueberries and warm brown spice on the nose and palate, leading into a full, tart black-fruit flavor framed by brisk acidity and soft tannins that gain astringency on your cheeks and palate during a long, clean finish. Only 13 percent alcohol, but there’s enough heat to make it feel like a bit more.

Check prices and find vendors for Lapostolle “Casa” Grand Selection Rapel Valley Carmenère on
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Oveja Negra 2014 Maule Valley Cabernet Franc – Carmenere Reserva ($9.99)

Oveja Negra

A blend of 60 percent Cabernet Franc and 40 percent Carmenere, this is a dark reddish-purple wine, shading to a clear garnet edge. Blackberries and blueberries show first in the aroma, joined by a distinct note of brown spices. Juicy black fruit, bright acidity and a distinct buzz of tannic astringency join on the palate in a simple, forward flavor that softens a bit with time in the glass. It will also benefit from a bit of fat – either meat or cheese – to help bring it into balance. 13,5% alcohol.

Find vendors and check prices for Oveja Negra Maule Valley Cabernet Franc – Carmenere Reserva on Read article.