The East Coast swing of Wine Spectator’s 2018 Grand Tour supertasting marched from Washington, D.C., to the Big Apple, where 244 outstanding wines from 15 countries and five states were poured at the New York Marriott Marquis on April 24. “This event is a collage of the best producers,” said winemaker Ted Seghesio, who was pouring his 94-point Seghesio Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Cortina 2014. “We’re honored to be here to rub shoulders with the greatest winemakers in the world.”
The greatest show on terroir makes one more stop this year, at the Mirage in Las Vegas, on May 5.
”What’s cool at this event is that I get to talk to [wine lovers],” said Siduri winemaker Adam Lee, who brought his 2015 Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir, “and the people at this event are really dedicated and very wine knowledgeable. … They want to know how the wine is made.”
The Grand Tour also brings generations together, for both wineries with hundreds of years of family history and the wine lovers who travel from near and far to be here. Jon Kaplan, who lives in Alaska but is a veteran of “at least 10” Wine Spectator Grand Tour and Wine Experience events, was joined by his son, Jonathan Kaplan Jr., who lives in New York. “The Yalumba [Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz South Australia The Caley 2012] and the Adobe Road [Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard 2014] are both beautiful wines,” said the elder Kaplan, who joked that his love for wine had evolved “from a hobby to a passion to an obsession to an affliction.” “How about a ‘lifestyle’?” laughed Kaplan Jr., who added, “I come here to learn from this guy. My father schools me in the ways of wine, and I hope to someday bring my own kids here.”
“[The Grand Tour and the Wine Experience] are the premier wine events in the world,” said Cesare Benvenuto, nephew of winemaker Pio Boffa and the fifth generation of family ownership at Barolo star Pio Cesare. “We want the attendees to enjoy our wine, and it’s important for me to be here, personally, as a member of the family.”
For guests who wished to start the night with a pop, Champagnes from Perrier-Jouët, Nicolas Feuillatte, Louis Roederer and Henriot were among the bubblies from France, while their counterparts from Roederer Estate and Domaine Carneros, Ferrari Trento and Raventós i Blanc represented California, Italy and Spain, respectively.
Lovers of Italian wine were treated to a Barolo contingent that starred Aldo Conterno, Paolo Scavino, Pio Cesare and Renato Ratti, among others, and an all-star lineup of Brunellos, led by a pair of 96-pointers from Altesino and Valdicava.
Fans of the French classics were delighted by wines from Bordeaux châteaus Haut-Brion, Angélus and Pichon Lalande, Burgundy’s Domaine Laroche and Louis Latour, Châteauneuf-du-Pape's La Nerthe and Côte-Rôtie's Gabriel Meffre, among others. Muga, Emilio Moro, Bodegas LAN and Alion were just a few of the big names in a stellar Spanish contingent of nearly 30 wineries.
An impressive selection of wines from older vintages was especially popular with guests, including Catena Zapata Malbec Mendoza Nicasia Vineyard 2007, Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Martha's Vineyard 2005, Bodegas Ramón Bilbao Rioja Mirto 2005, Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-Léognan 1998 and Kopke Port Colheita 1981.
But the Grand Tour is also about discovery, and there were plenty of off-the-beaten-path wines to unearth: Greece’s Gerovassiliou brought a single-vineyard cuvée of the indigenous Malagousia grape, Recanati winery poured its Carignan from Israel’s Judean Hils, a single-vineyard Tannat was on hand from Uruguay’s Bodega Garzón, and Virginia was well-represented by Barboursville Vineyards and RdV.
Winemaker Greg Brewer, who brought the Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills Machado 2015, felt a sense of perspective, recalling a time, not so long ago, when the wines of Santa Barbara County had yet to be discovered. “I love the interaction here,” he said. “For 27 years I worked on one road, in Sta. Rita Hills. To see Sta. Rita Hills here, on the global stage, is super exciting, and flattering…. It’s so important to extend the hand, and to represent the region. I hope I can do this for another 20 years.”
For wine lovers looking to finish their Grand Tour on a sweet note—and with some wines that will easily stand the test of 20 years—there was Klein Constantia's unctuous Vin de Constance from South Africa, two Tokajis from Hungary and six fantastic Ports to choose from, perhaps none more popular than the 97-point Croft Vintage Port from the young but already revered 2011 vintage. It’s a wine that will undoubtedly still be going strong at the 2038 Grand Tour.
Tickets and information for the 2018 Grand Tour’s final stop in Las Vegas can be found at GrandTour.WineSpectator.com.