Monday, October 27, 2014

(It Was a Sprint, Not a Marathon.)

Wineaux: if you had the crème de la crème of the best wines in the world laid out in front of you, and a mere two and a half hours to taste as many as you could, you might look like a refugee from "Supermarket Shopper" (or whatever that crazy program was) too. I had a map—notated in two highlighters AND a pen—and a plan of action, and woe to the lackadaisical taster who got in my way.

This was at a recent Grand Tasting evening at the Wine Spectator's New York Wine Experience. In the past, I'd been able to attend the whole weekend's worth of programming; the amazing seminars, the luncheons, and BOTH evenings of Grand Tastings with an extra hour each… and I still never made it to every wine.

This time, I could only be there for a fraction of the enormous event—I mean, they have over 250 Wine Spectator Award-winning wineries pouring at this session alone—but I had on comfy shoes and a lot of determination.

For better or worse, here's what I got to sample, with the quickest-notes-in-the-world—starred entries were particular standouts:

(And apologies to the winemakers who I was abrupt with, the fellow tasters I elbowed through, and the friends I ran into with a "Hi, no time to talk, let's touch base soon, make sure you go to XYZ's table, byeeeee.")


NV Bollinger Brut Champagne Special Cuvée: soapstone, bright mousse, ripe lemon, very nice! ~$50

NV Henriot Brut Rosé Champagne: rich fruit, compact and complex—just gorgeous. ~$55

NV Krug Brut Champagne Grand Cuvee: (full disclosure—this was my first stop, I beelined to the Krug table!) warm and toasty, rich, always lovely. ~$135

* 2006 Perrier-Jouët Champagne Belle Epoque: brioche, florals, stunning, rich, toasty mousse, nutty. ~$135


2012 Far Niente Chardonnay: ripe yellow flowers, bruised apple nose. Very dense, lovely in mouth, taffy, melon, spicy finish. Nice! ~$45

2007 Hugel Gewürztraminer Vendage Tardive: floral, litchi, rich, very subtle. Doesn't seem as sweet as the 100g/l residual sugar would imply. ~$50

* 2011 Kistler Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse: poured out of magnum. Spot-on nose, baking spices, rich fruit, super tasty, with light and lifting acidity. ~$140 (bt)

2011 Kongsgaard Chardonnay: subtle floral nose, compact and savory on finish, yellow apple, great balance. ~$110

* 2011 J.J. Prüm Riesling Graacher Himmelreich Spätlese: beautiful florals, o my gosh, amazing, creamsicle (!), orangey, spicy and interesting. ~$30

2007 Trimbach Riesling Frédéric Emile: petrol, white flowers, pear, white peach, steely, clean, minerally. Always a fave. ~$63


2009 Ch. Angélus: dusty cocoa powder, really dense and rich, licorice, earth, graphite, yum. ~$350

2009 Ch. Cheval Blanc: soft red fruits, tangy and dense, bright, elegant, smoke. ~$1500

* 2007 Ch. Haut Brion: VERRRRY earthy, licorice, violet, elegant though SO dense, blackberry, cassis, black cherry, bit of leather and tobacco. ~$475

* 2001 Ch. Lafite Rothschild: tarragon, SAGE—heady nose, tangy, drinking very well, purple fruits and flowers (I'm really enjoying the '01s I've had of late—maybe not a standout vintage for Bordeaux, but they're pretty tasty!) ~$750

2010 Ch. Lynch-Bages: spice, blueberry pie, still obviously very young and dense but actually nice balance. Intense black fruits, excellent potential. ~$180

2007 Ch. La Mission Haut-Brion: earthy, bit savory, dried herbs, approachable now, not too big, florals lighten it up. ~$380

2008 Ch. Mouton Rothschild: loads of terroir, very smooth, elegant, cassis, balanced. ~$600

2007 Ch. Palmer: cedar closet, spice and earth, luxurious in the mouth, subtle but present structure. ~$240

2004 Ch. Pichon-Longueville, Ctsse. de Lalande: Asian spice, earth, red jammy fruit, kind of soft finish but nice structure, drinking very well now. ~$140


* 2006 Bouchard Clos Vougeot: liquid earth, potpourri perfume, plush fruit in mouth. Amazing. ~$160

2011 Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny: light macerated berries, earthiness on finish. ~$65

2012 Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers: love the earthy terroir, round and rich fruit, not knockout finish but warm and long. ~$125

2010 Jadot Nuits-St.-Georges Les Boudots: lots of floral perfume, intertwined elements, compact and rich, very structured. ~$85

* 2010 Latour Corton Grancey: RASPBERRY! (Dried and candied.) So yummy. Elegant, floral, excellent balance, yum! ~$120


2001 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape: green pepper, vegitation, kind of awkward nose, but comes together in mouth, still tight and a long way to go. ~$100

2011 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chappelle: warm, red fruits, spicy and rich, very nice. ~$150

2010 Ch. de Saint-Cosme Gigondas: floral, still very young, red fruits, spicy, kind of at the "terrible twos" I'd say. ~$60

* 2012 Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau: oooooh, wow, sexy red fruit, LOVELY nose. Good red fruit in mouth, formidable but elegant. ~$75


2011 Araujo Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard: uber-spicy, mesquite, hickory, very woodsy. Seems Bordeaux-ian, lots of earth elements, subtle fruit, very interesting, pedigreed. ~$495

2011 Beaulieu Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve: dense black and red fruit, cedar, lovely in the mouth, spicy, brassy yet approachable. ~$100

1989 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve: perfume! Nice red and black fruit, holding up SO well, still lots of structure. Wow. ~$80

2010 BOND Quella: soft nose of blueberry pie. Tangy, rich, purple and blue fruits, not too overblown, beautiful. ~$425

* 2012 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 40th Anniversary (not Special Selection): such an amazing nose, lavender, ANISE!, so unusual, chocolate bar, spearmint, amazingly special. ~$55

* 2010 Dominus: cassis, blueberry, blackberry liqueur, DENSE, opulent, lush, wow. ~$230

* 2010 Harlan Estate: Cocoa powder, licorice, violets, blue fruits—sexy nose. O. M. G… dense, rich, multi-faceted, big but balanced. Woooow. ~$850

1997 Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon Martha's Vineyard: earthy nose, but lovely fruit and herbs on palate. Good integration, nice length, soft finish. Holding up gorgeously. ~$195

2010 Merry Edwards Pinot Noir RRV Georganne: warm and inviting, verrrrry spicy, red fruit, yum, nice balance. ~$80

2011 Peter Michael Cabernet Sauvignon "Au Paradis": high-toned red fruit, dusty earth, really gorgeous in mouth, integrated components, fruit, earth, herbs, violet… ~$200

2011 Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon To Kalon Reserve: cedar, earth, really fantastic, blueberry, elegant, violets, so lovely. ~$135

2011 Phelps Insignia: berry salad, velvety, luxe, herbs, chocolate, earth, solid and very nice! ~$180

* 2009 Revana Cabernet Sauvignon: dense, luxe, blue and black fruits, cherry, blackberry, really amazing. Elegant, spice, warm and rich, very nice—love it. Good structure too. ~$140

1994 Ridge Monte Bello: Earthy, luxe, dense nose, wet leaves, this is a 1994?!?! Still bright. A special wine. ~$230


2010 Cayuse Syrah Bionic Frog: really interesting, meaty, spice (I wrote "really interesting" AGAIN,) ignore cutesy label, something very cool going on! ~$250

* 2008 Charles Smith—K Vintners Syrah Morrison Lane: (they'd left by the time I arrived at the table, but I shook the last few drips out of the last bottle standing on the table!) Pepper, perfume, violets yessss, melted milk chocolate, lavender, YES. Wish I'd had more. ~$50


2008 Barbi Brunello di Montalcino: smoky, spicy, pleasant fruit in mouth. ~$50

2007 Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Greppo: spicy, kind of light, but nice red fruit and spice. ~$190

2010 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato: Anise, red fruit, elegant and sexy, nice structure, still a long ways to go. ~$110

* 2011 Gaja Sori San Lorenzo: red cherry pie, elegant, luxe - rich, supple red fruits. SO LOVELY. want more!! (Helps that I was chatting in Italian with Angelo Gaja himself.) ~$425

2011 Giacosa Barolo Falletto: tart ripe fruit on the somewhat closed nose, but lovely in the mouth; earthy, fruity, very elegant, "feminine, but a little slutty :-)" ~$170

* 2006 Masseto: earthy/dusty, really yummy, florals, spicy black and blue fruit, excellent integration—YES. $~800

2006 Ornellaia: bit earthy, spicy red fruit, rich. ~$190

2009 Planeta Syrah Maroccoli: great ripe nose, lots of fruit, so super tasty, nice example of Sra in Sicily. ~$37

2007 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Paganelli Riserva: very nice and spicy, rich, velvety, good spice/red fruit balance. ~$85

* 2010 Sassicaia: very perfumey nose. Wow—really dense, purple florals, tasty, bit spicy, nice balance. Excellent. ~$160


* 2004 CVNE Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva: very earthy and spicy, tomato sauce. Dense, lots of tannins, loads of earth and integrated red fruit. ~$130

2002 R. López de Heredia Rioja Viña Tondonia Reserva: subtle nose, spices, red fruit, very nice, leafy, has a way to go. ~$40

2010 Muga Rioja Aro: soft, light and spicy nose. Very quaffable, still lots of structure. ~$175

2006 El Nido Jumilla: lavender, ripe red fruit at the nose's finish, super jammy, dense, great packed fruit. ~$135

2004 Vega Sicilia Unico Gran Reserva: meaty, warm, nice balance, rich, earthy, minerally. ~$370


2012 Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz: blue fruits on the nose, dense, spicy, rich and lovely, red cherry liqueur, integrated. ~$70

2011 Penfolds RWT Shiraz: red fruit, BBQ (heat, coals,) spicy and dense red fruit, yum, bit of a bruiser but I like it :-) ~$145

* 2012 Two Hands Shiraz Bella's Garden: cherry liqueur, jammy red and black fruits, it's a monster! Just awesome, smooth and rich, very nice. ~$58


2007 Ch. Musar: really amazing nose (maybe my favorite Musar I've ever tasted,) clay, earthy, such specific terroir, spicy. ~$30


* 2009 Ch. D'Yquem: perfume, honey, florals (could inhale this nose for days,) bit of botrytis, candied orange peel, ginger—luscious. ~$850

~          ~          ~          ~          ~

Okay, now that I see the above all laid out before me, I admit that I did a PRETTY DECENT job! But there were a few that eluded me, as they were all poured out when I got to their tables. To share my woe, I missed:

2007 Tignanello, 2010 Gaja Ca'Marcanda, 2009 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill, 2004 Dom Perignon, 2010 Paul Hobbs Beckstoffer Las Piedras, 1996 Ch. Margaux, 2005 Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva, 2011 Opus One, 2012 Pahlmeyer, 2010 Plumpjack, 2008 Roederer Rosé Champagne, 2010 Shafer Hillside Select, and NV Taittinger Prélude Champagne.

It was also tough to skip so many tables "on purpose" (I didn't make it to any Ports at all!) but such was the nature of the beast. Next year, I hope to be back for the entire event, so I don't have to be the Tasmanian Devil of sipping and spitting. But looking back, I think you'll agree I made the most of my brief time at the Wine Spectator NY Wine Experience Grand Tasting this year.


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