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The New Hipster's Guide to the New York Wine Experience, 2017

Move over, 30-something Millennials—New World wines are the don't-miss pours at this year's Grand Tastings

Posted: Oct 12, 2017 3:00pm ET

By Emma Balter

For a few years now, my colleague Ben O'Donnell has compiled his so-called "Hipster's Guide" to Wine Spectator's New York Wine Experience. Although Ben technically still qualifies as a Millennial, he's getting a little long in the tooth if you ask me. Enter the new hipster—one who cherishes innovation, nonconformity and open winegrowing borders. If you're a member of the Bestest Generation like me, you'll be looking out for New World wines at this month's tasting extravaganza.

The new hipster is always looking for something new, even in an already well-explored region. New Zealand's wine biz has been all about that Blanc ever since the country planted their first Sauvy vines in the 1970s. Today, my peers and I have switched out the gooseberry bombs (and the Jägerbombs) for New Zealand's new "it" grape: Pinot Noir. For proof that Kiwi is the new Burg, grab a glass of the Craggy Range Pinot Noir Martinborough Te Muna Road Vineyard 2015, Escarpment's 2014 from the same region, and Dog Point's 2014 Pinot Noir from Marlborough.

I've long been an advocate for South African wines, which come in myriad styles, many on show at the Grand Tastings. Go old school by sampling Cabernets and Bordeaux-style blends from Rust en Vrede, Anthonij Rupert and Ernie Els; or, opt for the beautifully complex 2015 Chardonnay from Hamilton Russell, who crafts his Burgundian-style wines from the cool-climate Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. For the sweet tooths, check out Klein Constantia's Vin de Constance, a dessert wine that made an appearance in Wine Spectator's 2015 Top 10 Wines of the Year.

From farther east, don't miss out on your chance to try wines from the wine world's newest breeds of unicorn: China and Japan. Moët-Hennessy's Chinese project, Ao Yun, sources grapes from more than 300 small parcels in the Himalayan foothills; the 2013 is 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Château Mercian has been making wine in Japan since 1970. Their Jyonohira vineyard is dedicated to Bordeaux varieties; the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve is a must-try to understand the region's unique terroir.

But there's also plenty of hipster goodies here at home in North America, starting with Canada. (Yes, I called Canada home, because borders are a construct.) Mission Hill has long waved the Maple Leaf for quality Canadian wine. The 2013 Oculus is a Merlot blend from the Osoyoos vineyard, which boasts alluvial soils and 200 frost-free days a year! The fifth wheel of the U.S. wine industry, Virginia, will also be repping American wines with more Bordeaux blends, one from Barboursville (Octagon 2012) and one from RdV (Lost Mountain 2013).

Straight from the Pacific Northwest, darlings-to-the-somms Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman will pour their Evening Land Chardonnay Eola-Amity Hills Summum Seven Springs Estate 2014, a balanced white from a dry-farmed and biodynamic prime plot of Oregon land. And of course, make sure to get some juice from the ultimate wild-haired hipster prototype, Charles Smith, who is bringing his K Syrah Walla Walla Valley Rock Garden 2014 from Washington.

As a young Millennial, I still remember being told to respect my elders. I guess (sorry not sorry). But that would actually be sage advice to take at this year's Grand Tastings, as California stalwarts will be reaching deep into their cellars for the old ... er, good, stuff. Harlan Estate, Heitz, Ridge, Hall and Ramey will pour 2006s and 2007s of their flagship wines. Even better, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars in Napa Valley will come out swinging with its Cask 23 from the 1994 vintage—and yes, I was born by then ... just about.

Trade notes and pics of all your favorite Wine Experience wines with our Wine Spectator Events app, available at WineSpectator.com/NYWEapp2017.

You can follow Emma Balter on Twitter, at twitter.com/emmabalter, and Instagram, at instagram.com/emmacbalter.

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