The third annual Wine Spectator Grand Tour carried more than 200 wineries to three U.S. cities this month, welcoming more than 5,000 wine lovers to tastings in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York.
Jenny and Tyrone Tan of Alameda, Calif., attended the tasting held in Las Vegas at the Venetian resort. "We're always looking for great wines and here they all are," Tyrone said. Jenny cast her vote for the Justin Vineyards Isoceles 2001. But Harry Bagwell, of Gainesville, Ga., said, "I haven't had anything I didn't like."
Given the range of wines on offer, there was something to please every palate. There were classics, such as Château Margaux 1996 (95 points on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale) and Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Special Selection 2001 (95). There were emerging stars, such as Chile's Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta 2001 (95) and Viña Almaviva Puente Alto 2001 (95). An extraordinary collection of Italian wines included Sandrone Barolo Le Vigne 2000 (95) and Tenuta Sette Ponti Toscana Oreno 2001 (95).
"This event is very important [for me]," said Luciano Sandrone, who joined the Grand Tour from his winery in Piedmont. "It's a big opportunity to connect with many wine lovers."
For Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator, the events help knit together the wine community. "The idea behind this national tour was to bring readers of Wine Spectator together with the world's greatest wines," Shanken said. "Mission accomplished!"
The only downside, according to many attendees, was the dilemma of prioritizing 214 wines in just three hours of tasting and eating.
"We just don't get these wines," said Scott Dilyard, of Cleveland. Susan Joy, tasting with him, agreed and lamented, "The most surprising thing is the quality of wine we're dumping out. It's unfortunate, but you have to dump out great wine to try another great wine."
They'll have another chance to taste more great wines when the Grand Tour resumes in May 2005. Dates and venues will be announced in the near future.
--Daniel Sogg contributed to this report