Wine Spectator kicked off this year’s three-city Grand Tour at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., on April 15. More than 1,000 attendees swirled and tasted 230-plus outstanding wines, each one reviewed at 90 points or higher. Numerous winery owners and winemakers were on hand to pour for the thirsty crowd of consumers, restaurant owners and retailers who traveled from Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers and points beyond for the event.
“The tasting is incredible, even better than last year. It’s not only crowded, but what’s most incredible is the amazing selection of wines,” said Alessandra Casini Bindi Sergardi, owner of Bindi Sergardi in Chianti Classico. “I really have all the world here in Florida. It’s important for us producers to show our faces, show our wines and show our land.”
Sergardi’s colleague from northern Italy, Marco Stevanoni, importer for Bastianich winery, echoed her sentiments: “It’s great to be able to be exposed to consumers, to be able to talk to them, to express all of our story. It’s an amazing evening that we love to be a part of.”
For winemakers, the event was exposure to a booming market. Alessandra Angelini, who was representing her family’s Altesino winery and pouring its Brunello di Montalcino 2017, noted that Florida is a growing hub for fine wines and that events like the Grand Tour raise awareness for the quality of top wines from around the world.
For consumers, the evening was a great opportunity to sample some of the most exciting reds and whites, many of which cost more than $100 at retail. “For me, the constellation of brands that [Wine Spectator] brings together in a night is world class,” said Mikel Muga, representing his family’s Bodegas Muga winery in Spain’s Rioja region. “I’ve never been in a tasting that’s able to show so many top, top names from around the world.”
The event required some logistical magic, as record rains pummeled south Florida just a few days earlier. Fort Lauderdale experienced more than 25 inches of rain in a 24-hour period, according to preliminary reports from the National Weather Service office in Miami. The Wine Spectator events team was able to get all the wines delivered by Saturday, just in time to be ready for guests.
Wineries showcased their flagship labels—Piper-Heidsieck poured its Brut Champagne Rare 2008, Louis Latour offered its Corton-Charlemagne 2019 and Damilano served its Barolo Cannubi Riserva 1752 2013. California wine fans were treated to Diamond Creek's Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Red Rock Terrace 2019, Merry Edwards’ Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Meredith Estate 2020 and Louis M. Martini’s Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Stagecoach Vineyard 2019.
Read our Editors’ Guide to the 2023 Grand Tour Tastings! To assist with your evening’s explorations, five members of Wine Spectator's editorial team share the wines they’re excited to try.
There were rare wines and older vintages to taste as well. Attendees could sample M. Chapoutier’s Hermitage Chante-Alouette 2018—with less than 75 cases imported, it’s difficult to find. Château de Beaucastel treated guests to its Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009, while Pecchenino poured its Barolo Le Coste di Monforte Riserva 2008. The oldest wine of the tasting was Graham’s Tawny Port Single Harvest The Apprentice 1997, while the most highly rated (at 98 points) was Dow’s Vintage Port 2016.
Several wineries, such as Montalcino’s Valdicava, chose to present the 2013 vintage, now approaching a decade of aging. “It’s always a pleasure to be at these special events, and we always try to bring something nice,” said Valdicava co-owner PierFilippo Abruzzese. “2013 was a fantastic vintage and really shows the drinkability that this young Brunello has, but after 10 years is beginning to enter a wonderful drinking window.”
Miami native Chris Gorman of Gorman wines was thrilled to be back home, and his Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain The Bully 2019 was a big hit with the local crowd, many of whom had photos taken with the 12-liter display bottle. He and his team are looking forward to the upcoming Chicago Grand Tour event and the opportunity to explore the Windy City, hopefully by taking in a Cubs game at Wrigley Field and visiting a few renowned restaurants and music venues.
The Grand Tour continues in Chicago at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk on April 22, then in Las Vegas at the Resorts World Las Vegas on April 29. You can get tickets at GrandTour.WineSpectator.com.