From the cellar: In 2009 I received a very nice birthday gift: A bottle of 2007 Nota Bene, the “noted” red blend from Black Hills Estate now owned by a consortium including 90210 alum Jason Priestly. At the time it was selling for just under $50 and I thought, “what a wonderful birthday gift.” I laid it down.
This year some friends got together for a dinner, including the guy who gave me the bottle, and I thought I’d pull it out. We drank it with a spectacular blackened steak salad (blackened BBQ sirloin sliced on micro greens with roasted garlic, charred red peppers and sinful gorgonzola dressing). The cabernet sauvignon-cabernet franc-merlot blend did not disappoint. Not one iota.
We didn’t decant, but we did use the Rabbit aerator (aka The Rabbit Aerating Pourer, a pretty overpriced little device for what it does I think…), and it sat in our glasses for a bit while we had cocktails. I’m a bit torn on all the wine and bar gadgetry you see advertised but with some reservation I have to admit this little bauble works very well and we’ve even much improved everyday plonk with its use. Another reason not to decant, never mentioned by the wine establishment: 750 ml isn’t very much, especially when there are five at table. I’m always so shocked when I see a wine steward pour a $200 bottle at, say West restaurant, into an elaborate decanter. It looks like a Coke-and-a-half…
The 2007 Nota Bene, in late 2011, was over the top. I really shocked myself—having the discipline to keep it in the cellar two years. Being a born and bred British Columbian, and remembering the days of BC wine starting and ending with Andrés (now, of course, Andrew Peller, and not the screw top plonk of yore), it’s still hard for me to grasp how stunningly far (some) BC wine has come in less than half a century. This red blend was balanced, smooth but with depth, luscious, a huge cabernet type mouthful that was indescribably delicious, deep, dark, mysterious, and, yes, I regret describing wine that way but, really, it was simply that special. Remember the scene in The Godfather at Louis, where Michael shoots McClusky and Sollozzo, who are enjoying some fine Italian food and wine? If it had to be my last meal, this wine would have been a great way out. I wish I had been given two bottles!
Downside? Note Bene’s humble beginnings were a red blend at 14 per cent alcohol. They’re now just shy of 15 per cent. I am not a fan of the higher alcohol content and, really, if you’re trying to impress someone, high alcohol content is just a ruse.
I checked out the current vintage (hard to find, but I did see a bottle on Salt Spring Island): $60. So the question is, three bottles say of Hickinbotham Shiraz Cab, two bottles of Yalumba Barossa Bush Vine Grenache, or one bottle of Nota Bene? Neither of the other two are “quite as good” but given that wine is, ultimately, a social drink (witness the kraters on the home page of this site, a nod to both the very beginnings of wine and its social nature), it makes me hard pressed to want to buy another bottle. I don’t, after all, have 90210 residuals trickling into the mailbox month after month. But, as I saw printed on a chalk board recently,
What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others
it stands that should anyone want to gift me a case of Nota Bene, I can even arrange pick-up.
Price: Expensive. Good luck in finding any.
Market Liquidity: See last paragraph above.