The Grand Ballroom of the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas transformed for one night into a vast salon of wine tasting and appreciation at the opening night of the 2017 Wine Spectator Grand Tour. A total of 244 wines were poured Saturday night, representing 16 nations and four American states, all scoring an outstanding 90 points or higher on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale. The tour continues May 9 in Chicago at the Navy Pier and May 12 at the Hotel Fontainebleau in Miami.
For winemakers and consumers it was an opportunity to share their passion for wine. “You get to meet the people who buy your wine. You see what they think about it, and what they like and don’t like,” said Andrés Ilabaca, winemaker for Chile’s Santa Rita, who was pouring his top red from 2012, the Cabernet Sauvignon Casa Real (91 points).
“We came here to try things we haven’t had before, vineyards we’ve heard about but not yet tried,” said Mary Bowers of Sterling, Va., who was tasting with her husband, Harlan. “But it’s always a challenge to pace yourself,” she added.
The three leading wine regions represented were Italy (with 61 wines poured), California (41) and France (40). From Italy, there were gems such as the Paolo Scavino Bric dël Fiasc 2012 (94) and the Bertani Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2007 (92). From California, the selections included Kistler Chardonnay Carneros Hudson Vineyard 2013 (94) and Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Private Reserve 2013 (93). From France came the Champy Mazis-Chambertin 2011 (93) from an elite Burgundy grand cru.
There were also Malbecs from Argentina, Shirazes from Australia and Ports from Portugal, including the highest scoring and oldest wines poured, the Graham Vintage Port 2000 (98) and the Kopke Port Colheita 1978 (92), respectively. In addition to California, U.S. wines hailed from Washington, Oregon and Virginia.
Raimund Prüm traveled from Germany to pour the S.A. Prüm Riesling Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Dry Old Vines GG 2010 (90). Top-flight dry Rieslings are still relatively unknown in the U.S., but Prüm nonetheless found a receptive audience at the Grand Tour. “They are open to tasting new wines. One fellow came up and said, ‘I don’t like Riesling,’ and I said, 'You should taste this.' And he said, ‘I think I love Riesling now.’”
“It’s just so overwhelming. There’s so many great wines,” said Isis Esbrook, who came with her husband, Joe, from Howell, Mich. “I can’t believe that everybody has to be 90-plus. It’s the major reason we came.”
Tickets are still available for the Chicago and Miami Grand Tour events. For more information and ticket sales, visit GrandTour.WineSpectator.com.