Wine Spectator's 30th Anniversary Wine Experience took place this past weekend. It was quite a whirlwind, with dozens of fantastic wines from the two nights of Grand Tastings and two days of seminars.
I was pleased to get my heavy lifting out of the way early so I could relax and enjoy the remainder of the weekend. With so many outstanding wines on offer, how do you choose a handful that was even more impressive?
Yet, there were nearly a dozen that stood out for me over the weekend. Here they are, in no particular order, from both the Grand Tastings and seminars.
I don't taste Bodegas Vega Sicilia's Ribera del Duero Unico Gran Reserva often, but it never fails to impress me. I still recall the 1986 from a Wine Experience several years ago. The 1994 Unico, one of the Wine Stars seminars presented by Vega Sicilia director Pablo Álvarez, was stunning for its depth, restrained power and length on the palate.
I have a soft spot for Burgundy, having worked with the wines since my beginnings in the wine industry. The Marquis d'Angerville Volnay Clos des Ducs 2009 presented in my Friday morning 2009 Red Burgundies seminar was a knockout. Not for its power, but rather for its absence of power. It was the epitome of grace and precision, but more so, exactly what Clos des Ducs should be. It has the cinnamon and spice aromas that Guillaume d'Angerville mentioned and an ethereal feel in the mouth. It was even more delicate than I remembered it from our tasting in d'Angerville's cellar last January. Most important, it's different than all the other d'Angerville Volnays, delivering something uniquely Clos des Ducs.
Staying with Burgundy, the Bouchard Père & Fils Volnay Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot 2006 was showing beautifully, all velvet and cherries, yet with a mineral underpinning that gave it strength and persistence.
From Bordeaux, the standouts were Château Canon's St.-Emilion 2001 for its richness and seamless texture and the Léoville Barton St.-Julien 2000, from one of my favorite Bordeaux properties. I enjoyed a bottle from my cellar Monday evening: Its effusive bouquet of cedar and black currant fruit, elegance and harmony, even in the ripe 2000 vintage, is my ideal image of St.-Julien.
My wine of the Five First-Growths Tasting was the Château Margaux Margaux 1996. It had a classy nose of black currant, violet and spice, with a silky, refined texture, very complex and even a touch of bell pepper that added another dimension to its Cabernet Sauvignon essence.
Moving to Italy, purity defined the Colli della Toscana Centrale Flaccianello 2007 from Fontodi. I loved the raspberry, cherry and tobacco notes and its vibrant structure. Ditto Castello di Ama's Chianti Classico Vigneto Bellavista 2007, whose purity and regal austerity keep the intense cherry, strawberry and spice flavors in check. Tenuta dell'Ornellaia's Toscana Masseto 2001 was monumental, rich and mouthfilling, in that phase between youthful fruit and maturity, with great concentration and length.
Even among all the beautiful wines on offer, there were two in particular that rocked my world. These are wines that I could have sipped all evening, or all weekend for that matter!
One was the Egon Müller Riesling Auslese Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Scharzhofberger 2007, rich with peach and slate flavors and the characteristic spiciness of the Saar and sublime in its harmony and presence on the palate. I vastly underrated this wine on release at 94 points.
The other was the Dom Pérignon Brut Champagne Oenothèque 1975 at the Dom Pérignon Time in a Bottle seminar. This simply expressed all the elements I look for in Champagne. Mature flavors of torréfaction, citrus and mineral, with complexity and intensity matched to a seamless and weightless profile. Absolutely marvelous.
It was certainly an experience.
Paul M Hummel — Chicago, — October 26, 2011 2:33pm ET
Scott Bailey — North Carolina — October 26, 2011 4:15pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — October 26, 2011 8:38pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — October 26, 2011 8:43pm ET
Mike Olszewski — Newcastle, WA, USA — October 26, 2011 11:03pm ET
Senior — Bedford, New Hampshire — November 7, 2011 11:08am ET
Carl Kanowsky — Los Angeles, CA — February 22, 2013 7:07pm ET
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