From the tasting team

How the Halliday Tasting Team are celebrating Open That Bottle Night

By J'aime Cardillo

14 Feb, 2024

In the lead up to Open That Bottle Night on Saturday February 24, we asked the Halliday Tasting Team which 'special occasion' wines they'll be celebrating with.

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Saturday February 24 is Open That Bottle Night (OTBN). What is OTBN you ask? It's a day (or night) designed to get you to take stock of your cellar and open some of those special wines you've been saving.

Open That Bottle Night was created by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, former wine columnists for The Wall Street Journal, and 2024 marks its 25th anniversary. The entire idea of OTBN is that we shouldn't have to wait for a special occasion to open a great wine – today is the special occasion.

So, the ultimate question, what should you open?

To give you some inspiration, we asked the Halliday Tasting Team just what they're going to open to celebrate.

Chief editor Campbell Mattinson says he no longer buys wine to keep and no longer cellars wine. "Too many crises, too many dreams, I've gone through and sold it all a couple of times, no mercy, all gone... I don't have any wines that are waiting for a special occasion." 

However, he says there's a bottle of 1996 Lanson Champagne (the gold label), which he bought cheap, that may have been spared. "Or a bottle of 2004 Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz, under crown seal. I kept that one as a kind of light on the hill – to encourage them to keep making it."

Philip RichPhilip Rich.

Philip Rich will be unearthing a 1953 Domaine Faiveley Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru 'Les St. Georges'. "Years ago I purchased this (and other wines) from a farmer in central Victoria who bought the wines on release and kept them in a bluestone cellar. Every single one has been fantastic, from 1966 Grange and 1966 Château Palmer to this superb wine. I took a bottle with me, once, to a Central Otago Pinot celebration and Nick Mills from Rippon still mentions it when I see him. It was that good. Fingers crossed on this bottle!"

Shanteh Wale will be savouring her final bottle of 2005 Tyrrell's Vat 1 Semillon. "[It's] my last bottle and it will be treasured upon opening." 

While Toni Paterson MW will be opening Brokenwood's 2014 ILR Reserve Semillon. "It is a classic Hunter semillon, showing complexity and layers, but still with incredible freshness even though it is a decade old. There are gorgeous smoky nuances with refreshing sweet-lemon flavours. The intensity is incredible."

And to follow, Yarra Yering's 2015 Agincourt Cabernet Malbec, which Toni says that, even though it could be laid down for longer, it's "in a gorgeous spot right now... Just one sip will have you hooked."

Shanteh WaleShanteh Wale.

Marcus Ellis has S.C. Pannell's Smart Grenache ready to go. "Maybe it’s not seen as a trophy bottle, but when I tasted the 2017 Smart Grenache on release, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. It felt like a revolution was happening. And it was. And it’s now in thrilling full swing. That’s a moment I want to revisit. To feel that again."

Dave Brookes, who is just coming off a dry month, says even a Stanley Fruity Lexia looks good at this point. But when it comes to those very special bottles, "I have single bottles remaining of 1990 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage and 1965 Lindeman's Bin 3110 so it would probably be one of those."

"One of my all-time favourite vintages for Australian red wines of quality is 1991. I haven’t met a 1991 red – especially shiraz or cabernet sauvignon – that I didn’t like," says Jeni Port. "There are some very fine examples still going strong, indeed, still on the highest of drinking plateaus. This includes 1991 Penfolds Grange; I’m not a huge Grange drinker but this wine is ageless and a real beauty."

Jeni's white wine pick is Tahbilk's 2017 Museum Release Marsanne, which is ridiculous value-for-money at $28 a bottle and has been re-released. "The wine’s youthful graces, structure and still-emerging complexity as a seven year old are incredible. Any of the museum release marsannes are similarly endowed, but this sub-$30 white is a stunner and will delight. And it can be bought now," says Jeni.

Jane Faulkner and Mike BennieJane Faulkner and Mike Bennie.

Mike Bennie is "itching" to open a vin jaune. "Perilously young as it may be, but calling me is the 2014 Jacques Puffeney Arbois Vin Jaune, the last wine he officially made after his 52 consecutive vintages in Jura."

"I’ve always advised against keeping wine for a special occasion. Today is the special occasion. Opening the bottle is the special occasion. All because so many of us, yes, I’ve done this, kept a bottle or two thinking, ah this is for that special occasion. It never comes around but by then, the wine has died a slow death," says Jane Faulkner. "You’re just left wondering as you pour the wine down the sink. So, I’ve been doing a bit of stocktake on my cellar (long overdue) and drinking up quite a few single bottles – always with friends of course."

Jane says the next two on the list are: 2004 Eileen Hardy Chardonnay and 1998 Bruno Giacosa Santo Stefano Barbaresco. "Bottle numbered 10328, under cork and fingers crossed."

Win a bottle of 2013 Chris Ringland Hoffmann Vineyard Shiraz

To celebrate Open That Bottle Night, we're giving you the chance to win a bottle of 2013 Chris Ringland Hoffmann Vineyard Shiraz valued at $550. 

Simply enter your email address for your chance to win. Entries close at 11.59pm on Sunday February 18, 2024. Enter now.

Entrants must be over 18 years old and be located in Australia (one entry per person).