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What's Open Owen? - January '22 Edition

One whole year of the Beverage Blog is in the books! Time truly flies when you're having wine.

With the introduction of the new year, I usually feel as if an inventory of my personal collection is in order. I have a modest collection of older wines that need more time to age, collectible bottles, drink now-type wines, and personally sentimental wines. Mine isn't enormous, as it needs to fit in my apartment, but I want to take a bit of time to talk about personal wine collections, both big and small.

Not all collections need to be held in vast temperature-controlled wine cellars. A collection can be two bottles or five thousand.

I started my wine collection in 2016 by complete accident. I got a few bottles of lovely wines as gifts for graduating college and to be completely honest, I wasn't entirely sure what to do with them. I had no intention of starting a wine collection, but some immediately became sentimental to me as they were associated with a positive experience: family, friends, a great meal, etc. I do indeed still have most of these bottles now. From there, it grew naturally with the purchase of a few more bottles from online marketplaces and a couple more wine gifts. Before I knew it, I needed a bigger wine fridge.

So which wines are worthy of being held onto, and which bottles should you drink now? This is entirely up to the person collecting; however, all wine is meant to be drunk eventually. Holding onto a bottle forever defeats the purpose of the wine itself - to enjoy with others. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though, like investment-grade wine. These wines would appreciate over time due to collectability but are only a good idea if you intend to sell them to another collector. Besides that, all wines realistically should be collected and drunk in the right environment.

I have wines saved for major milestones like my 30th birthday or the birth of my first child. These are exciting because I fully intend to drink them, but only when the time is right for me, not for the wine.

In short, everyone does it a bit differently and the collection becomes a reflection of you. I have seen collections of purely Pinot Noir, and others that don't venture outside of France. It is really about what you like to drink.

If you ever want assistance with your wine collection, you know who to call.

With that being said, here is what's open:

2014 Mi Sueño Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Hillstone Vineyard.

I wanted to showcase a sentimental wine from my collection. For those of you that know my work history, I used to be a Bar Manager for the Hillstone Restaurant Group. I had the honor of working in six of their restaurants from NYC to Miami and finally landed here in Chicago.

This particular bottle was a gift when we broke the all-time sales record in one day at the largest Hillstone in the portfolio. Oh, Miami. If I recall right, we did nearly $60,000 in food, wine, and liquor sales in one day. To thank us for our accomplishment, Hillstone gifted all the managers this bottle of wine from their own vineyard in Napa operated by Mi Sueño. I made sure to hold onto it.

I decided to open this wine to reflect on how far I have come as a wine professional since then. I now own my own business and represent wines from all over the world.

This wine is unique because it is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley and is only sold by Hillstone from Mi Sueño as a private label. I wouldn't be able to buy this anywhere but a Hillstone Restaurant.

On the nose, there are aromas of red fruits such as strawberry and raspberry giving way to plum and blueberry. The wine is clearly oaked as well with notes of vanilla, espresso, and baking spices.

On the palate, the wine shows off its powerful tannins, even after being decanted for about an hour. After opening a bit more, it began to settle down and show off its juicy acidity and minerality notes such as graphite and stone.

I paired this with a beef tenderloin cooked medium rare with bearnaise sauce from a famous Chicago Steak House. It was quite fun to reminisce about my restaurant days, and the bottle really did taste like Hillstone.

Have any questions or comments? Don't be afraid to reach out and let me know what you have open this month!


Owen Huzar

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