Friday, October 26, 2007


Thursday, October 25, 2007 & Friday, October 26, 2007.

Wine Spectator has become the category killer of wine tasting events. The competition doesn't even come close. While most wine events struggle to find a few "star wines" to highlight their tastings, Wine Spectator's shows only feature top-notch wines. Every wine poured is a top-scoring wine (90 PTS or better), and the best winemakers and wineries in the world are in attendance. That "world" didn't just include the expected countries like France, Italy and Spain anymore as there were wines from such far reaching places as Japan (Mercian Merlot), Lebanon (Chateau Musar) and Slovenia (Movia).

Thomas Matthews, Executive Editor of the Wine Spectator magazine, believes it's the wineries that have done all the work, but he's clearly not taking enough credit for the event. The floor this year was more packed than I have ever seen it. It could be a reflection of the increased popularity of wine, but somehow I feel it has a lot more to do with a growing community of wine readers that are seeking a shared cultural experience.

WS's Wine Experiences and Grand Tours are the biggest brand extensions the magazine has to offer. They directly place the reader into a real world environment where they can taste and converse with the familiar names and faces that grace the wine mag's pages each month.

Split across two floors of the Marriott Marquis, 250 wines were poured at The "Critics' Choice" Grand Tastings. Detailed floor plans make navigation simple, but a calculated plan of attack is needed or one may find the event overwhelming. Making some educated guesses on which wines might run out early (which is one of the unfortunate aspects) and hitting those first, can help avoid disappointment. So if you have your heart set on a few "can't miss" treasures, you need to prioritize. Traditionally, these tend to be the cult Cabernets, First Growths, and Italian superstars.


Upscale wine in a not-so-uptight atmosphere. The floor filled up fast and was buzzing with conversation. Aisles were more congested than usual which made getting around a bit difficult early on. The dress code called for business attire, but I learned long ago to leave behind the suit jacket. After a few glasses of wine in an overcrowded room that heats up, you'll be glad you did too.

Wine tastings of this caliber tend to call to mind pictures of geeky old men in tweed jackets sipping vino and waxing poetically. Reality couldn't be further from that with a vastly young and hip audience in attendance instilling a sense of fun to the event. At one point during the night, someone even jumped on the microphone and shouted something to the effect of "Ok winos, if you love wine, make some noise!"

The traditional Marriott array of gourmet meats, cheeses, candied nuts and hors d'oeuvres at the buffet tables were balanced by extraordinary wine like a 1997 Masseto Tenuta dell'Ornellaia in magnum and a 1997 Ridge Montebello. The ticket price for the 2.5 hour Grand Tasting cost $250 per person making it a pricey consumer ticket, but guests were rewarded with some serious wine offerings. With extremely expensive wines being poured, you got what you paid for and then some, as long as you had it in you to taste enough wines before palate fatigue set in.

As usual I've listed my top wine honors of the night below in addition to a full list of the rest of the wines poured to provide the outside "spectator" a complete peek behind the curtain of what took place at the event.

Masseto Tenuta dell' Ornellaia 1997 - wonderful earth, smoke, cherries and the personification of the words smooth, structured and balanced. Simply beautiful.

Greg Norman Reserve Shiraz 2001 - Tremendous cranberry and pomegranate flavors. Unlike any Australian Shiraz I've ever tasted. Wonderfully unique and unlike any other wine on the floor.

Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume 2005 - Delicious Loire Valley Chenin Blanc dessert wine that will last for 40 years, but who has that kind of restraint?

Betz Family Syrah Red Mountain La Cote Rousse 2005 - The mouthfeel on this wine is astounding for a Washington Syrah.

Chateau Clerc Milon Pauillac 2001 - An enticing and memorable barnyard nose...

Harlan Estate 2003 - Intensely concentrated black and red berry liqueur with an endless finish.

Martinelli Zinfandel Giuseppe & Luisa 2005 - Tremendous fruit that will shock and awe your palate!

Peter Michael Chardonnay Ma Belle-Fille 2005 - Delicate and flinty with sweet honey musk.

Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore 1995 - Smoky chocolate herb-crusted spice!

Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - Black & Blueberry covered violets.

Staglin Family Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford 2003 - Creamy black and red fruit with silky olive-tea.


95 PTS
An impressive WS event that ranks up there with some of the finest assembled in recent years. Excellent bottle selections from the wineries and a well-balanced representation of the world's finest winegrowing regions. Simply too tempting to pass up. If there was one wine event to attend in 2007, this was it.


Archaval-Ferrer Finca Mirador 2004

Bodegas Alion Ribera del Duero 2003

Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2003

Almaviva Puente Alto 2004

Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli 2001

Castello di Ama Chianti Classico Bellavista 2004

Chateau Angelus 2004

Antinori Brunello di Montalcino Pian delle Vigne 2001

Archery Summit Pinot Noir Archus Estate 2004

Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 2001

Argyle Pinot Noir Nuthouse 2005

David Arthur Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

L'Aventure Estate Cuvee 2005

Bacio Divino 2004

Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino Poggio alle Mura 2001

Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz E&E Black Pepper 2003

Dr. von Basserman-Jordan Riesling Qualitatswein Trocken Pfalz Forster Jesuitengarten 2006

Chateau de Beaucastel CDP 2005

Beaulieu Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 2004

Beaux Freres Pinot Noir Ribbon Ridge 2005

Bergstrom Pinot Noir Dundee Hills 2005

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 2004

Wolf Blass Black Label 30th Vintage 2002

Boekenhoutskloof Syrah Coastal Region 2004

Bollinger Brut Champagne La Grande Annee 1999

Bond Melbury 2003

Domaine du Martray Corton-Charlemagne 2004

Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaune Greves Vigne de l'Enfant Jesus 2004

Brancott Pinot Noir Reserve 2005

Dr. Burklin-Wolf Riesling Qualitatswein Trocken Pfalz Forster Kirchenstuck 2001

Chateau Canon-la-Gaffeliere St.-Emilion 2004

Carter Cabernet Sauvignon Revilo Vineyard 2004

Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta Colchagua 2004

Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto 2000

Catena Zapata Alta Malbec 2003

Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection 2005

Ceretoo Barolo Prapo 2001

M Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne 2004

Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Cinq Cepages 2004

Chateau Ste. Michelle Meritage 2003

Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap 2004

Chateau Climens Barsac 2003

Clos du Bois Marlstone Vineyard 2004

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2006

Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas Les Ruchets 2004

Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve 2003

Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Don Melchor 2004

Aldo Conterno Barolo Granbussia Riserva 2001

Chateau Cos d'Estournel St.-Estephe 2002

Craggy Range Le Sol Gimblett 2004

Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

DeLille Chaleaur Estate 2004

Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace 2000

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc Section 94 2005

Dolce Late Harvest 2002

Domaine Alfred Pinot Noir Chamisal Vineyards 2004

Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir Laurene 2004

Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Evenstad Reserve 2004

Dominus Estate 2004

Dom Perignon 1999

Dow's Vintage Port 1994

Dr. Loosen Riesling Beerenauslese Long Gold Cap Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Urziger Wurzarten 2005

Maison Joseph Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet 2005

Duckhorn Merlot 1999

Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou St. Julien 2004

DuMOL Pinot Noir Green Valley Ryan 2005

Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon 1999

E. Guigal Cote-Rotie Chateau d'Ampuis 2003

L'Ecole No 41 Perigee 2003

Merry Edwards Pinot Noir Meredith Estate 2003

Elderton Shiraz Barossa Command Single Vineyard 2003

Neil Ellis Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

Ernie Englebrecht Els 2004

Etude Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Fairview Shiraz Paarl Solitude 2004

Disznoko Tokay Aszu 6 Puttonyos 2000

Domaine Faiveley Nuits-St.-Georges 2003

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 2001

Felsina Toscana Fontalloro 2003

Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay Dominique 2005

Casa Ferreirinha Douro Quinta da Leda 2004

Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo 2005

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne Cuvee Palmes d'Or 1997

Robert Foley Claret 2004

Fonseca Vintage Port 2003

Castello di Fonterutoli Toscana Siepi 2003

Fontodi Colli della Toscana 2004

Foradori Vigneti delle Dolomiti Granato 2003

Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2004

Marchesi de'Frescobaldi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2001

Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2001

Gagliole Colli della Toscana Centrale 2004

Gaja Langhe Conteisa 2001

Gallo Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

Gemston Yountville 2005

Bruno Giacosa Barolo Riserva 2001

Graham's Vintage Port 1997

Marques de Grinon Petit Verdot 2002

Grosset Riesling Polish Hill 2007

Chateau Gruaud-Larose St.-Julien 1988

Gunderloch Riesling Auslese Gold Cap 2004

Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2005

Chateau Haut-Brion 2004

Charles Heidsieck Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1995

Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon Martha's Vineyard 2002

Henschke Shiraz Mount Edelstone 2004

Hess Collection Chardonnay 2004

Hirtzberger Riesling Smaragd Trocken Wachau Spitzer 2006

Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir Lindsay Estate 2005

Hugel Riesling Alsace Juiblee 2004

HdV Carneros Delle Cousine 2004

Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2005

Louis Jadot Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatieres 2004

Jermann Venezia-Giulia Vintage Tunina 2005

Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Les Caillottes 2005

Kistler Pinot Noir Cuvee Catherine 2005

Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2005

Kracher Trockenbeerenauslese Burgenland Grand Cuvee No. 6 2004

Krug Brut Champagne Grande Cuvee NV

Kumeau River Chardonnay Kumeu Mate's Vineyard 2005

Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 2002

Alois Lageder Chardonnay Alto Adige Lowengang 2003

Lagier Meredith Syrah 2004

Chateau Lagrange 2003

Domaine de Lagrezette 2000

Landmark Chardonnay Damaris Rserve 2005

Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Blanchots 2004

Chateau Latour 2004

Louis Latour Corton Chateau Corton Grancey 2005

Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Margaret River Art Series 2002

Chateau Leoville Barton 2000

Chateau Leoville Las Cases 2003

Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Loring Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard 2005

Chateau Lynch-Bages 2003

Chateau Magdelaine 2001

Chateau Margaux 2002

Chateau Maris Syrah Minervois La Liviniere Old Vine 2005

Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Mazzano 2000

Mercian Merlot Kikyogahara Signature Shinshu 2002

Mer Soleil Chardonnay Silver Unoaked 2006

Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion 2004

Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc 2005

Montes Folly Santa Cruz 2004

Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero Malleolus de Sanchomartin 2004

Chateau Morton Rothschild 2003

Movia Brda Veliko Bianco 2003

Mueller Pinot Noir Emily's Cuvee 2004

Muga Rioja Torre Muga 2004

Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Clos de la Marechale 2005

Egon Muller Riesling Spatlese Scharzhofberger 2003

Mumm Napa Valley DVX 1999

Chateau Musar Lebanon 1999

Chateau La Nerthe CDP Cuvee des Cadettes 2004

Novy Family Syrah Susan's Vineyard 2005

Termanthia Numanthia Toro Termanthia 2003

Opus One 2004

Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino 2001

Pahlmeyer Pinot Noir 2005

Alvaro Palacios Priorat Finca Dofi 2004

Chateau Palmer Margaux 2004

Paloma Merlot 2004

Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir Pommard Clones 2005

Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard 2005

Penfolds Shiraz St. Henri 2002

Perrier Jouet Brut Champagne Grand Brut NV

Petaluma Chardonnay 2004

Petrolo Torrione 2005

Joseph Phelps Insignia 2004

F.X Pichler Riesling Durnsteiner Kellerberg 2006

Chateau Pichon-Longueville-Baron 2003

Chateau Pichon-Longueville-Lalande 2004

Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Planeta Chardonnnay Sicilia 2005

Pol Roger Brut Champagne Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill 1993

Ponzi Pinot Noir Reserve 2005

Prager Riesling Smaragd Trocken Wachau Weissenkirchen Achleiten 2005

Pride Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Joh. Jos. Prum Riesling Spatlese 2004

Le Pupille Maremma Toscana Saffredi 2003

Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2003

Quintessa 2004

Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Larkmead 2005

Catello dei Rampolla Sammarco 2004

Chateau Rauzan-Segla 2003

Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Riesling Spatlese 2006

Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello 1997

Chateau Rieussec Sauternes 1999

Marques de Riscal Rioja Baron de Chirel Reserva 2001

Robert Talbott Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow Vineyard 2004

Roederer Estate Brut L'Ermitage 2000

Louis Roederer Brut Rose Champagne 2000

Rosemount Syrah McLaren Vale Balmoral 2002

Rosenblum Rockpile Zinfandel 2005

The Royal Tokaji Wine Co. Aszu 6 Puttonyos Mezes Maly 1999

Rubicon Estate Zinfandel Edizione Pennino 2004

Ruffino Toscana Modus 2004

Ruinart Brut Champagne Dom Ruinart 1996

Rutherford Hill Merlot 2003

St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Auslese 2005

Salon Brut Blanc de Blanc Champagne 1996

Sandrone Barolo Le Vigne 2003

Siduri Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard 2006

Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri-Sassicaia 2003

Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric del Fiasc 2003

Schrader Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard 2005

Schramsberg J. Schram 2000

Seghesio Zinfandel 2005

Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno 2004

Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select 2003

Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Reserve 1997

Snowden Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon S.L.V. 2004

Steele Chardonnay Du Pratt Vineyard 2004

Sterling SVR Reserve 2004

Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes 2003

Taittinger Brut Champagne Prelude NV

Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 2003

Torbreck Descedant 2004

Torres Conca de Barbera Grans Muralles 2001

F.E. Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile 2001

Chateau Trotanoy Pomerol 2000

Tua Rita Toscana Redigaffi 2004

Two Hands Ares 2004

Tyrell's Chardonnay Vat 47 2003

Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino Madonna Del Piano Riserva 2001

Vega Sicilia Unico Gran Riserva 1996

Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Brut Champagne 1998

Viader 2004

Vietti Barolo Lazzarito 2003

Vieux-Chateau-Certan Pomerol 2004

Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe CDP La Crau 2005

Villa Maria Suavignon Blanc Clifford Bay Reserve 2005

Vision Pinot Noir Rosella's Vineyard 2005

Roberto Voerzio Barolo Vecchie Vite dei Capalot e delle Brunate Riserva 2001

Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Coltassala Riserva 2004

Warre Vintage Port 2000

Robert Weil Riesling Auslese Gold Cap 2004

Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Silver Anniversary 2004

Williams Selyem Pinot Noir West Side Road Neighbors 25th Anniversary 2005


  • Glad you enjoyed the event! There was great energy in the sold-out room(s) this year -- probably because of all the great wines. Hope you didn't miss the Vega Sicilia Unico 1996 -- a real beauty.

    Thomas Matthews
    Executive editor
    Wine Spectator

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, October 30, 2007 12:02:00 PM  

  • Wow!it`s a very nice article about wine .I agree wine Spectator has become the category killer of wine tasting events.

    By Anonymous wine, at Friday, March 07, 2008 1:17:00 PM  

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