There was a lot of wine to be tasted at this past weekend’s 2009 Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience. At the Grand Tastings, my preplanning was ambitious, but in the end, I didn’t taste everything I had marked on my map.
I did try about 65 wines over the two nights. I also enjoyed catching up with vintners from around the world, some of whom I see on a regular basis, others once a year at our annual Wine Experience.
The seminars offered me more in-depth tastings, with the time to make notes and observe the wines as they develop over 30 to 60 minutes in the glass. In addition, the winemakers or proprietors offer insightful comments and information.
Several people commented to me that the wines poured at the Grand Tastings were the best of all the Experiences they have attended. I can say that I was impressed with every wine I tasted. Even at that level, however, there were a few that stood out.
I spent a good part of Thursday evening in the Champagne aisle. It’s not very often you can taste Dom Pérignon, Krug, Roederer Cristal and Salon side by side. They were all delicious. Yet, it was the Perrier-Jouët Brut Champagne Fleur de Champagne Cuvée Belle Epoque 1999 that stood out for its creamy richness and toasty flavors.
From Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with bubbles, it was an easy transition to white and red Burgundy. Again, all the whites were showing beautifully, from William Fèvre’s Chablis Montmains 2004, hitting its stride with a flinty, mineral edge, to Louis Latour’s Corton-Charlemagne, whose opulence was tempered by the racy 2007 vintage. Among the reds, it was the Beaune Grèves Vigne de l'Enfant Jésus 2006 from Bouchard Père & Fils that drew me in with its floral and berry fruit aromas and silky texture.
Friday evening was Riesling time. Anyone with an interest in Riesling had an opportunity to taste pretty much all the styles from dry (Trimbach, Prager, Basserman-Jordan) to sweet (Robert Weil). As much as I enjoyed the purity of all the Rieslings poured, the savory, white pepper and stone essence of F.X. Pichler’s Riesling Smaragd Trocken Wachau Dürnsteiner Kellerberg 2008 lingered on my palate.
I was also impressed with Dominio del Plata Nosotros Mendoza 2006, a 100 percent Malbec that Susana Balbo was pouring from magnum, Gemstone’s polished Ten Yountville 2006, Bruno Giacosa’s superb Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto 2004 and the Château Léoville Barton St.-Julien 2000. I found the Barolos from 2005 very approachable and displaying pure fruit on softer frames than the more structured 2004s.
The seminar program got off to a bang Friday morning with eight fine reds from the Rhône Valley's Rising Stars. The first wine was a pure, violet- and blackberry-infused St.-Joseph 2006 from Jean-Louis Chave, a wonderful combination of Syrah and terroir. The wine that really knocked my socks off was the Château de St.-Cosme Gigondas Le Claux 2007. Fortunately for proprietor and winemaker Louis Barruol, his ancestors neither had the opportunity nor the money to replant this vineyard, whose old vines exceed 100 years in age. It’s an amazing Gigondas: Complex and dynamic, packed with sweet fruit and smoke, wild herbs and terrific cut that keeps it fresh and vibrant. I also enjoyed the Domaine Giraud Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Gallimardes 2007 for its freshness and focused berry and fruitcake flavors.
Christian Moueix co-hosted a Right Bank Bordeaux seminar of his estates, offering a tour and insight into the soils and their influence on the wines. It was particularly revealing to move from the gravel-, sand- and clay-based soils of Pomerol to the limestone-based soils of St.-Emilion. Whereas the Pomerols were round, opulent and in some cases and inviting, the two St.-Emilions, Château Bélair and Château Magdelaine were more austere and very firmly structured.
The first glimpse of the seductiveness of Pomerol was the Château Hosanna 2000, with its truffle-scented aromas and lush texture. Nonetheless, it was the Château Trotanoy 1995 that drew me in with its complex, maturing bouquet of leather, spice and truffle, followed by sweet fruit and well-integrated tannins. An exquisite red.
Saturday morning gave us a tour around California courtesy of Pinot Noir and the terrific 2007 vintage. My favorite of the flight was the silky violet- and black currant-laced Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Kanzler Vineyard.
The afternoon session and finale of the program presented two top vintages of Brunello di Montalcino from four wineries. The 2004s were like two different wines, fragrant and full of cherry, tobacco and licorice flavors up front, then shutting down with firm tannins on the back end. Fortunately, each winery poured its 1997 and in these wines we saw the potential of the 2004s.
The bouquets had grown complex and alluring, with notes of dried flowers, truffle, spices, coffee, chocolate and leather. Their tannins had softened and, overall, the wines were more harmonious. The Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino 1997 put it all together for me, with its balance between fruit, structure and tannins.
It was quite a weekend of wine. I look forward to next year’s Wine Spectator New World Wine Experience in Las Vegas.
Bryan Albers — Bonner Springs, Kansas, USA — October 27, 2009 10:50pm ET
Bruce Sanderson — New York — October 28, 2009 9:10am ET
Scott Bailey — North Carolina — October 28, 2009 11:15pm ET
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