Navy Pier, Chicago, IL
Tasted Wednesday, May 13, 2009 by Richard Jennings with 1,325 views
I hadn't been to a Wine Spectator Grand Tour tasting event since they stopped holding them in Los Angeles several years ago. This year, however, my friend Traci proposed that we meet in Chicago for the event, and that we use the trip to finally get to Alinea, which we've been meaning to do for a couple of years. This turned out to be an excellent plan, and we managed to fit in some other great Chicago restaurants as well.
Compared to the Wine Spectator events I attended several years ago, this was noticeably different in the number of Bordeaux Chateaux owners and winemakers in attendance. Quite a few wine producers from other parts of the world were represented by the owner or winemaker, including maybe 25% of the Italian producers, but Bordeaux and many other major producers were represented by their local or regional distributors rather than representatives from the winery itself. This is also an odd tasting event in that producers are limited to pouring one wine, and lots of different vintages are represented, making it hard to do much of a comparison by vintage, even within regions.
As one can tell from the TNs below, I focused on the very few producers from Burgundy, the substantial number of Bordeaux represented, and a select number of the Italian wines on hand (about 2/3s of those present at the tasting). I tasted virtually none of the U.S. producers on hand (since I get a lot of other chances to do that, living as I do near California wine country). I was also interested in the dry Portuguese wines represented, and finished up with the few Ports on hand. There were also a lot of South American and Australian wines represented at the tasting, but they are a low priority for me, so the Argentine Cheval Blanc project and the Torbreck Run Rig (always a favorite) were the only ones from those areas that I made an effort to get to in the 3 hours allotted.
Even though the one-bottle limit per producer and array of vintages represented makes this a hard tasting from which to make real comparisons or divine much in the way of trends, I do enjoy the chance to sample so many great Italian producers in one spot. And there were certainly a number of excellent wines presented in this tasting. The best of the nearly 70 wines I tasted were the gorgeous '05 Ornellaia, the '99 Voerzio Barolo Riserva Vecchie dei Capalot Brunate from magnum, the '05 Torbreck Run Rig and the '03 Dow Port.