The Las Vegas Grand Tour was rockin' on Saturday night. The ballroom of the Venetian Hotel was packed, and everybody was having a lot of fun. As much as I love New York, Vegas really has the buzz when it comes to the Spec’s Grand Tour. So many pretty girls in addition to the excellent wines.
It was obvious that the most popular wine of the night was the 1998 Château Margaux. The line to get a sip was the biggest in the tasting, which began at 7 p.m. And it didn’t stop until they ran out of wine. The estate’s technical director, Paul Pontallier, and his son, Tibault, were manning the stand. And they could barely keep up with the demand.
Check out my video of the line (below). I snuck in front of the line (for journalistic purposes!). I thought the 1998 Margaux was a delicious wine and ready to drink. It showed plenty of berry and spicy character with hints of flowers. It was medium- to full-bodied, with good fruit and a silky finish. It was just taking on the tertiary character you get when a wine changes from young to mature. 90 points, non-blind. (If you have forgotten, 1998 is a great year for Right Bank reds, because most producers there harvested before the rains. The Left Bank producers were not as lucky.)
Anyway, the real line should have been for the 2004 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto, which was served around the corner from the Margaux. This wine was my favorite of the tasting, showing as it did ethereal aromas of crushed blackberries, raspberries and minerals. The palate was dense and full; yet it was delicate and refined. It was so classy. No wonder I gave it 98 points in a blind tasting of all the top 2004 Barolos a few months back. It is the wine of the vintage.
My runners-up were the 2003 Pichon Baron, which is so opulent and velvety. I love the up-front fruit of currants and blackberries with a voluptuous palate of ripe fruit and velvety tannins. It is so Vegas! You can enjoy it now but it will improve for decades ahead. 95 points, as always (non-blind). I also loved the 2004 Diamond Creek Cabernet Red Rock Terrace at the tasting. It had all the density and richness of a top California Cabernet, yet there was an underlying austerity that I love in classic reds from that region. Some might even call it Bordeaux-like. 94 points, non-blind.
If you were there, what were your favorites?
The action continued after the tasting when I went to Delmonico Steakhouse for dinner. This restaurant, which is in the Venetian, remains one of my favorite steak houses on the earth, and it has a Grand Award for its wine list. So there is an amazing array of wines to drink. I invited Robert de Luxembourg, an owner and the head of Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion, and Alfred Tesseron of Pontet Canet as well as fellow blogger (I wish for my sake that I could say "fellow musician" as well!) Maynard James Keenan. I decided that they would dig trying some California wines, specifically Rhône-style, to cut through their juicy steaks.
But we first refreshed our palates with a 2006 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Riesling Kabinett Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Piesporter Goldtröpfchen. The lightly fruity, insanely fresh white brought all of our palates back to life. What focus and finesse with refined fruit and crisp acidity. 90 points. We drank it with some spicy deep-fried calamari and tuna sushi hand rolls. Great combo.
By the time our steaks arrived (most of us ordered the rib eye), we had already been drinking a 2005 Margerum M5 Santa Barbara County that was a little simple, with some cooked fruit character. Good, but not exciting. 87 points, non-blind. The 2005 Stephan L’Aventure Côte a Côte blew away the M, and the Bordelaises loved it. Tesseron said it was very Bordeaux-like in its balance. He wasn’t surprised to learn that the owner and winemaker is from Bordeaux. The wine shows an impressive spicy, meaty and fruity character that turned to flowers, minerals, and licorice. It was full bodied and velvety. Very complex. 93 points, non-blind. However, the last wine of the night was a killer – 2005 Sine Qua Non Atlantis Fe2O2-1a. Unbelievable juice. Incredibly rich aromas of licorice raspberries, dark chocolate and cracked black pepper, it was full and powerful with dense fruit and velvety tannins. It lasted for minutes on the palate. What a wine. 93 percent Syrah, 5 percent Grenache, and 2 percent Viognier. 95 points, non-blind.
We all left Delmonico, mostly full of Syrah and aged beef, at about midnight. Poor Tesseron had a flight at 6 a.m. for Miami. Mine to London was in the afternoon. It was a great weekend ... way too much fun and way too much good wine, among other things. We all vowed to be back next year!
Gene Cochran — Los Angeles, CA — May 5, 2008 4:06pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — May 5, 2008 4:15pm ET
Brad Schier — Texas — May 5, 2008 5:20pm ET
Jonathan Rezabek — Chandler, AZ — May 6, 2008 3:04am ET
Fili Perez — May 6, 2008 6:32pm ET
Maynard James Keenan — page Springs, az — May 6, 2008 7:18pm ET
Jordan Horoschak — Houston, TX — May 6, 2008 8:27pm ET
Bill Zeid — Livermore, CA — May 8, 2008 12:25am ET
Mark Reinman — NJ — May 8, 2008 7:53am ET
Troy Campione — San Jose, CA — May 10, 2008 1:38am ET
Robert Clanton — May 19, 2009 12:13am ET
James Suckling — — May 19, 2009 11:31am ET
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