Saturday, May 06, 2006


This past Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending Wine Spectator's Grand Tour in New York where 217 exceptional wines from around the world were poured on two floors of the Marriott Marquis. Every wine poured was a top-scoring wine in Wine Spectator and there were plenty of new or unreleased wines featured as well.

I tasted way too much wine at the Tour (probably over 100 pours), which would be nearly impossible to rate and review here. However, I've decided to compile a Top 10 list of my favorite wines from the night. These are the ones that really impressed me and were unlike any of the other wines that I tasted on the floor. Most of these wines are pretty pricey, but they are worth seeking out and stretching your wallet to obtain.

I began my tasting experience by proceeding directly to Chateau Margaux and the First Growths. Usually the top Bordeauxs tend to run out of wine at these events quickly, so I decided to prioritize. Despite all the amazing Bordeauxs that were featured at the Tour, not a single French wine made my list. Some of these Old World French wines were impressive, while others were big disappointments. The same could be said for some of the prestigious California Cabernets. There were more than I care to mention that turned out to be a bit uninspired, closed, and lacking complexity.

There were quite a few California wines that did make my Top 10 List, but you'll also be surprised to find a few entries from all over the globe, including Slovenia. I've decided not to give any scores to these wines. Debating whether or not they deserve 92 or 95 or 98 pts is almost irrelevant. These are all A+ wines in a class of their own and that's all that needs to be said.


#10 -- Ernie Els Stellenbosch 2003 (South Africa)

This Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot delivers a smooth mineral, nutty-oak and dark chocolate fruit fusion with a tremendously rich finish. Very Delightful.

#9 -- Prats & Symington Douro Chryseia 2003 (Portugal)

Primarily made from Touriga Nacional and the more tannic Touriga Francesa with Tinta Roriz, known as Tinto del Pais (Tempranillo) in Ribera del Duero, and Tinto Cao mixed in. Imagine the taste of Port without the fortified element. There is a ton of dark chocolate and creamy vanilla mixed in with delightful sweet cherry liqueur flavors.

#9 -- Quinta do Vale Meao Douro 2003 (Portugal)

This is a tie for 9th place. Both of these were wines from Portugal were impressive and deserved mentioning, so I guess this is really a Top 11 List. Lots of plum and dark fruit with a creamy vanilla chocolate blend that lingers on the palate.

#8 -- Williams Selyem Pinot Noir West Side Rd Neighbors 2004 (California)

From Russian River, this minerally mix of cherry-caramel and dark fruit candy is light and lively on the palate with a flowery finish.

#7 -- Siduri Pinot Noir Gary's Vineyard 2004 (California)

I found this wine incredibly difficult to pour out or spit at the tasting. This one is for savoring. Soft, elegant, black cherry and berries with luscious acidity and oh so delicate.

#6 -- Movia Brda Veliko Rosso 1999 (Slovenia)

Yes, from Slovenia! A blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Merlot yields a soft, eccentric red wine that stood out as one of the most unique wines on the floor. Bordeaux meets Chinon meets Oregon Pinot Noir. Lots of cherry/berries and distinct terroir.

#5 -- Tenuta Sette Ponti Toscana Oreno 2003 (Italy)

Number five on Wine Spectator's Top 100 in 2005 is also #5 on my list here. This is a massive wine that was a shining star among the reds. With loads of currant, blackberry and spice, I struggle to describe the texture and mid-palate of this Super Tuscan that is unique and original in its flavor composition. Made from Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot. Simply phenomenal!

#4 -- Kathryn Kennedy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (California)

From Santa Cruz Mountains Estate, this is 100% Cabernet with a creamy richness from French Oak to die for. So rich and concentrated, yet lush and smooth that the finish echoes harmony in the mouth for an eternity.

#3 -- Hess Collection Mountain Cuvee 2002 (California)

From Mount Veeder, the predominantly Cabernet wine has a touch of Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc mixed in. Best of all, it is pretty affordable compared to the expensive Cabs showcased at this event. Huge, with tons of vanilla, chocolate, and rich spiced cedar-creme. Sleek finish. I wandered away from this booth with a well-poured glass, ate a plateful of cheese and cherished every sip of this one.

#2-- Turnbull Oakville 2003 (Black Label) (California)

From Napa Valley, this Estate red wine made from Bordeaux varietals is dark fruit at its finest. Tremendous concentration, elegance, earth, minerals and creamy vanilla. Shockingly expressive and supple. It will take you by surprise and put you back on your heels.

#1 -- Gunderloch Riesling Auslese Gold Cap 2004 (Germany)

Rheinhessen Nackenheim Rothenberg. Golden, unctuous, honey, botrytis nectar, with exceptional integrated acidity. I had to stop myself from going back to this booth for the fourth time. It is still calling for me days later. Perfection!


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