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Wine Spectator's 2010 Grand Tour

More than 200 wineries pour their best for three nights in Las Vegas, New York and Washington, D.C.

Mitch Frank
Posted: May 6, 2010

It wasn't a warm-up for the Kentucky Derby. But when the doors to the ballroom at the Venetian in Las Vegas opened at 7pm on April 24, people were observed sprinting into the room. Their finish line? A small table on the other side, where winemaker Charles Chevallier was pouring samples of Château Lafite Rothschild 2004.

It was the first night of Wine Spectator's 2010 Grand Tour, the first of three chances for wine lovers to taste what more than 200 of the world's best wineries were pouring. Everyone had their favorites. In New York on May 4, many targeted Lafite's first-growth rival, Château Haut-Brion, which was pouring its 1999. In Washington, D.C., the buzz was about Château Margaux 2001. And no one was complaining that yet another first-growth, Mouton-Rothschild 2003, offered yet another vintage for comparison.

Other guests made their night at the Grand Tour an evening of exploration. At New York's Mariott Marquis, some compiled an impromptu flight of Champagne, sampling Louis Roederer, Pommery and Henriot. Four computer engineers from Manhattan were browsing through Sonoma producers. After one pronounced himself a fan of Kosta Browne’s and Siduri's wines, his buddy replied, "Good. So now we know you like Pinot Noir. Let's go try a Burgundy." Bob Caruana Sr. and his son had a more focused mission—taste Concha y Toro's Puente Alto Don Melchor 2006. They have collected the Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon since the 1999 vintage, and wanted to take the latest release for a test drive.

Halfway between the White House and Capitol Hill, politicians, lobbyists and other wine fans gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building on April 30 for the Grand Tour's first visit to Washington D.C. Bill Paxon and Susan Molinari, married former members of Congress, stopped to chat with Kathryn Hall, who once served as U.S. ambassador to Austria and owns Hall Wines in Napa Valley. They were also hoping to try several of the many Italian reds represented, including Aldo Conterno, Damilano and Pio Cesare from Barolo, Barone Ricasoli and La Massa from Chianti, Masi and Allegrini from Valpolicella, Ornellaia from Bolgheri and Punica Barrua from Sardinia. "I can taste nearly all the great wines of Italy here without going back to Italy," said William W. McIlhenny, who was U.S. consul in Florence from 2001 to 2005 and is now a director at the State Department.

One wine seemed on everyone's must-try list in all three cities, however: Dow's 2007 Vintage Port 2007, which earned a perfect 100-point score from Wine Spectator. For many of the thousands who enjoyed one of the tastings, it was a perfect wine to end a perfect evening of good wine and new friends.


Rubicon general manager Larry Stone poured the Napa winery’s 2006 Rubicon Estate.

Fellow California vintner Michael Browne served Kosta Browne's 2008 Russian River Pinot.
Friends Gillian Windsor, Lauren Russo, Rachel Garber, Naomi Gadinsky, Hallie Gittleman and Mia Kumagai made a night of wine tasting a highlight of their Vegas visit.

Jean-Charles Cazes came from Bordeaux to offer his family’s 2005 Château Lynch-Bages.

California vintner Kathryn Hall poured her 2006 Hall Napa Valley Cabernet.

Among the strong Italian contingent, Pio Cesare owner Pio Boffa poured his 2005 Barolo.

Tuscan vintner Giovanni Manetti was on hand to represent Fontodi’s 2007 Flaccianello
Importer William Deutsch, Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken, Italian vintner Lamberto Frescobaldi and Robert Ackerman

Guests Matthew Coppola and Cher and Chris Van Amburg from Los Angeles

Guests Calvin and Joyce Wallace from Seattle

St. Urbans-Hof owner Nik Weis came from Germany to pour one of his 2007 Rieslings.

Two Hands co-owner Michael Twelftree served the 2007 Lily’s Garden Shiraz from Australia.

Guests Steve and Gladys Comer of Las Vegas

Lynn Maaskamp and Traci Pickett of California

O. Fournier owner José Manuel Ortega Gil-Fournier was representing both his Spanish winery and his Argentine winery.

Chilean winemaker Alfredo Hurtado poured Cono Sur's Ocio Pinot Noir from the cool-climate Casablanca Valley.

Miguel Roquette pours his Quinta do Crasto 2006 Old Vines dry red from Portugal's Douro Valley.

Pat and Lindsey Trammell enjoy tasting with Christine Rupp and Keith Bloomfield, president and CEO of the Forbes Family Trust.

Mike Power, Brian Horah, John Torregrossa, Walter Hansel Jr. and Kendrick Croasman have a guy's night out at the New York Grand Tour.
Lyle Boerchers
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada —  May 7, 2010 6:40am ET
My wife, sister and I went to the Grand Tasting in Las Vegas and were pleasantly overwhelmed by the classiness of the event and the attention to detail. Having the tour book a half hour before the doors opened was a big help in planning our evening. The pours were generous and the wines were all top notch. The light buffet was amazing and gave us time to enjoy our Chateau Margaux (favourite of the evening) with some food. The highlight for me was meeting James Suckling, who gave us some tasting tips and graciously posed for a picture, which provides us with a wonderful souvenir of a magnificent evening. We will definitely attend another Grand Tasting event in the future. We have found new benchmark tastes to which we can compare future wines. Well done Wine Spectator and the Venetian!!
Edward Russnow
Towaco, NJ, USA —  May 8, 2010 7:18am ET
I was finally able to attend the NY Event after many years of wanting to go. What a great event. I loved speaking with all of the wine industry professionals, they were willing to speak with us for as much time as we wanted and answered all the questions we sent their way. I was amazed at the ease of the flow of the event, it never seemed to be overly crowded, except when we were waiting to file into the room. The event exceeded my expectations, great job to all that put this together, can't wait for next year.
James R Morrow
Barnegat, NJ —  May 17, 2010 10:57am ET
This year's Grand Tour was probably the best we've attended. The wines were spectacular, as always, but the logistics of the event were seamless. My wife thanks you for your consideration in providing tables and chairs.

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