I was excited to be in Chicago, at Wine Spectator's Grand Tour. I had the opportunity to taste some of the great wines I missed in Atlantic City, the first leg of our three-city event. (Las Vegas was our second stop.)
I wasn’t disappointed. First up: the Bordeaux first-growths. In addition to Haut-Brion 2004, I enjoyed the La Mission-Haut-Brion, also from the 2004 vintage. At this young stage, I preferred the La Mission, which had more generosity compared with the austere Haut-Brion.
By contrast, the Lafite Rothschild 1999 was aromatic and refined, showing more of what you'd expect as it starts to reach its mature phase. The Mouton-Rothschild 2001 was more open and spicy than the Latour 2001. The latter offered fine depth and potential, but needs another seven to 10 years yet.
Other notable Bordeaux were the Angélus 2004, Léoville Barton 2000 and Smith-Haut-Lafitte 2003.
I wish I had more Barolo and Barbaresco in my cellar. The truth is I don’t know these wines as well as I would like to, so I took advantage of the nice range available to become acquainted. All were excellent, but my favorites were the Pio Cesare Barbaresco 2003, Aldo Conterno Barolo Granbussia Riserva 2000, Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Roche del Falletto 2003, Damilano Barolo Cannubi 2001 and Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric dël Fiasc 2003. The ’01s were more classic in their balance and structure; the ’03s were revved up with big fruit, massive structures and ample yet ripe tannins.
Other impressive wines were the creamy Terrazas de los Andes Malbec Mendoza Afincado 2003, Castello di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico 2001 and Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Campolongo di Torbe 2000.
These tastings gave me the opportunity to taste wines outside the regions I cover for Wine Spectator. One more night would have allowed me to cover the whole room. I guess I should have gone to Las Vegas.