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The Hipster's Guide to the New York Wine Experience, 2016

A helpful primer on some rare and often-elusive wines you'll want to catch

Posted: Oct 19, 2016 11:00am ET

By Ben O'Donnell

Two-and-a-half hours, two ballroom floors, 250-plus of the choicest helpings from the wine world's buffet: It's not uncommon, when you're at the New York Wine Experience Grand Tastings (coming up this Thursday and Friday, Oct. 20 and 21) to suffer a full-blown DSM-grade episode of clinical FOMO, grasping at every classified Bordeaux and vintage Champagne. But if I'm writing this Hipster's Guide earnestly, no one in your #squad is going to be impressed at the end of the night if your list of favorite wines closely matches one that could have been committed to ink in, say, 1855.

Nothing against the classics, but many wineries are bringing tiny-production, super-site-specific, experimental and cellar-aged cuvées. And if you sleep on Washington, Chile and Israel-well, I'd hate for you to miss out on something you might find for the first and last time.

Since nothing's hotter than "cool-climate," let's get started on that swatch of Kimmeridgian chalk with Champagne and Chablis atop. It doesn't get much brisker than the Louis Roederer Brut Nature Champagne Starck 2006, first vintage of a new no-dosage bubbly with a label from aptly named minimalist designer Philippe Starck. You can salute three of Chablis' grands crus here: from north to south, the Drouhin Vaudon Vaudésir 2013, Christian Moreau Les Clos 2013 and Domaine Laroche Les Blanchots 2012.

It's hip to be square, so let's get into some Merlot. Start with Château Hosanna 2010, from an 11-acre Moueix family parcel just down the way from Pomerol's Pétrus. Veer toward Italy, where you can compare the Castello di Ama 2008 Merlot from the L'Apparita vineyard with, naturally, Masseto, which is flourishing its well-aged 2003, a decade after release. At last year's Wine Experience, Masseto reps poured the 2002 and said those bottles were the last of that vintage the winery possessed.

In France, Syrah makes somm hearts sing, so don't neglect a 2013 Cornas from Jean-Luc Colombo that trickles from the steep, granitic, 2-acre La Louvée site. The New World is finding its true crus for Syrah as well, with Washington taking a lead. Go east of the Cascades to find K Vintners' Syrah Wahluke Slope The Deal Sundance 2012. Keep going, and you'll reach Walla Walla and the 3-acre The Tribe Vineyard, planted so densely with vines that only horses can till it: Hence the brand name, Horsepower, from Christophe Baron of Cayuse. Twelve thousand people are on a waiting list to purchase his wines.

Then, why not give the 2014 Israeli Carignan from Recanati a spin? Or visit Miguel Torres, who spent two decades scoping out and sculpting a chilly, slate-y, terraced site in Chile 16 miles from the sea, only to see frost and birds decimate it every year, with no wine to show for that work until the Pinot Noir Empedrado Escaleras de Empedrado 2012. Maybe a pricey mistake—or maybe you'll be able to say you tasted the first-ever wine from the next Willamette Valley. Pair with another family Pinot jewel, the Domaine Faiveley Clos des Cortons Faiveley 2013, from a grand cru monopole that only the Faiveleys have the keys to.

How better to wind down your foray into the exotic than with aged Gewürztraminer? Come on down, Alsace: F.E. Trimbach's Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre 2008 offers a rich, dry take, while Famille Hugel had the right growing conditions in 2001 to produce a sweet, botrytized sélection de grains nobles, the rarest and headiest category for Alsace. Finally, cap the night off by comparing Dow versus Graham Ports from the 1994 vintage, the best in nearly half a century at the time.

If you go to the Grand Tastings, drop a note in the comments—which wines did you most enjoy hanging out with?

Trade notes and pics of all your favorite Wine Experience wines with our NYWE 2016 app, available at www.winespectator.com/nywe2016app.

You can follow Ben O'Donnell on Twitter at twitter.com/BenODonn.

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