2017 New York Wine Experience Trip

New York City, NY

Tasted October 16, 2017 - October 25, 2017 by La Cave d'Argent with 1,753 views

Introduction

For wine and food aficionados, there is nothing quite like a trip to New York City, especially when it includes attendance at the Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience. We look forward to our regular October trip, always allowing enough time before and after the event to ensure that we can enjoy Manhattan’s sublime restaurants and Broadway plays.

The Marriott Marquis is located in the heart of Times Square, within easy walking distance of Broadway theatres and countless dining establishments. It is a large, well-appointed hotel with numerous computer-directed glass elevators, conveying similar “energy” to the hustle and bustle outside of its front doors. This is where the New York Wine Experience is held and accordingly is the best lodging option for those attending the event. As in previous years, our room overlooked Times Square, providing the New York verve that we so much enjoy.





Flight 1 - MONDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2017 (DINNER AT MAIALINO) (1 note)

Based upon the recommendation of a native New Yorker who now lives in La Jolla, we elected to dine at Maialino. Located within the Gramercy Park Hotel, it is a casual but elegant Italian restaurant highlighting Roman cuisine. Part of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, it is a no-tipping establishment that is comprised of four distinct areas: Bar Maialino (the front area) is walk-in only, the Trattoria dining room (reservations accepted), the Wine Counter (which hosts intimate wine events and impromptu tastings) and the Private Dining Room (which accommodates special events).





As the wine counter was hosting a private tasting, we elected to sit in the bar area, which was comfortable, energetic and offered the same menu as all four areas of the restaurant. Our server was friendly, unpretentious, attentive and extremely knowledgeable about the menu. We began with cocktails, which were mixed beautifully and served promptly. I ordered a classic Beefeater martini and my wife enjoyed a traditional negroni.



On the evening of our visit, Chef Jason Pfeifer’s creative menu included testarella al maialino (crispy suckling pig’s head), which was as good as it gets. The moist cheek meat, flavorful snout and crispy ears were beautifully seasoned and textured. This was a knockout!



I ordered the puntarelle salad (winter chicory with anchovy and red wine vinegar). This was fresh and delectable.



Maialino has an extensive wine list, heavily invested in Italian gems from all regions. A relatively low percentage of the wines are less than $100. Given the depth and breadth of the list, I solicited the sommelier’s assistance. Wine Director Jenni Guizio was busy with the private tasting in the wine bar area, so we were helped by one of her assistants. I asked him to select a red that would pair well with our entrées, giving him a “ballpark” price range of $150. He suggested the ’99 Eraldo Viberi Barolo Riserva, (which was listed for $185) and I agreed. The bottle was inspected and decanted, but the decantation process was not at our table. I have no doubt that we were served the correct wine when he brought the filled decanter, but I never did view his decanting technique.

The Viberti was feminine, delicious and paired nicely with the testarella. I elected to defer the wine while consuming my vinegar-laden puntarelle salad, for which my martini was a better match.

Our entrées were nothing short of spectacular. Seasonal white truffles were offered at a hefty (but reasonable) upcharge, which my wife elected to order. Making the truffles the star of the dish, they were shaved on top of simple cavatelli with butter.





I was thrilled with my bucatini all’amatraciana, which was perfectly al dente and piquant.



The Viberti Barolo paired beautifully with both entrées. Unfortunately, before we had completed our dishes, our wine essentially “ran out.” This is because a substantial portion of the bottle was marred by bitter sediment, becoming evident as the decanter was emptied. Despite being 18-years-old, the wine had clearly been splash-decanted rather than being properly decanted off of its sediment. This was definitely a faux pas on the part of our sommelier, but I chose not to mention it so as to not taint an otherwise great dining experience.

Red
1999 Eraldo Viberti Barolo Riserva Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
92 points
Despite being quite overpriced on a New York City restaurant's wine list and mishandled by the sommelier, this Barolo is still a joy to drink. Deep ruby and flush with earthy black cherry on the nose, it adds notes of tarragon, cardamom and tobacco. Medium-bodied, freshly acidic, lightly oaked and with nicely integrated alcohol (listed as 14%), it delivers flavors mirroring the nose and closes with good length. Unfortunately, sampling of this wine was cut significantly short because the sommelier, despite decantation, did not take the time to actually separate the wine from its sediment. At least 20% of this overpriced bottle was wasted, tainted by bitter, visible sediment. Assuming that the server of this wine observes basic decanting skills, it should show well for several more years. Drink now-2022.
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Flight 2 - MONDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2017 (ROOM SERVICE SNACKS AND CABERNET) (1 note)

Time spent enjoying the sights and sounds of Times Square at night was followed by room service snacks (which included a hummus plate). From the room service menu we also ordered a bottle of ‘14 Montes Cabernet Sauvignon Alpha, which was an easy late-night drinker for two Californians still running on Pacific time.



Red
2014 Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
88 points
This deep ruby wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot that received a very modest amount of French oak exposure. It delivers aromas and flavors of black currants, fig, pipe tobacco and loamy earth. Medium-bodied, freshly acidic and with nicely integrated alcohol (listed as 14%), it stays solid in the miccle, has a complimentary oak component and finishes with medium length. Enjoy this round, easy-drinking Cabernet over the next five years. Your palate and wallet will be very pleased. Drink now-2022.

Flight 3 - TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2017 (LUNCH AT GOTHAM BAR AND GRILL) (1 note)

When in New York, our biological clocks never really convert from Pacific to Eastern time. As such, in some ways, it makes us feel like teenagers. We stay up late (well after midnight) and wake up in the late morning. Our first full day of this trip was no exception. After morning coffee, we planned our day to include lunch at Gotham Bar and Grill, as well as an evening play.

Gotham Bar and Grill is located in Greenwich Village, not far from Washington Square Park. It has been a favorite of locals and visitors for more than 30 years under the helm of Chef Alfred Portale. Beautifully appointed but unpretentious, it is a comfortable, friendly place to dine. The wine list is comprehensive and especially deep in offerings from France, Italy and the United States. To match his seasonal menu, Gotham’s wine director, Heidi Turzyn, selects two wines by the glass, three bottles of white and three bottles of red to be featured for lunch pairings. The prices of these wines are very reasonable, although those seeking something different can access the full list if they desire.



For our two-course meal, we elected to go with one of the featured wines (although we couldn’t resist perusing the full list). We chose the 2015 L’Umami Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, which was an outstanding match with all four of the dishes that the two of us consumed.

For her appetizer, my spouse ordered the seafood salad, which included scallops, squid, Spanish octopus, lobster, sweet shrimp and avocado dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. Each component was ultra-fresh and the flavors were explosive.



I couldn’t resist ordering the yellowfin tuna tartare, served with Japanese cucumber and shiso leaf, dressed with Asian ginger vinaigrette. This was beautiful visually and was equally attractive in the flavor department.



Our main courses were works of art. My better half ordered the cremini mushroom risotto, prepared with pancetta, baby arugula and aged gruyere.



I ordered the pan roasted branzino, served on a bed of fennel confit, black olive, marble potatoes and blood orange emulsion. The freshly flavorful fish was highlighted by the texture of the crispy skin. This is perhaps the most impressive rendition of European sea bass that I have ever devoured!

Red
2015 L'Umami Pinot Noir USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
88 points
This young Pinot sports a limpid ruby robe. While light in body, it is by no means aromatically light or lacking in flavor. Bing cherries, cranberries, cocoa and coriander are supported by fresh acidity, light sweet tannins and seamless alcohol. It is hard to detect any oak, but the charm here is in its freshness and red fruit flavors. Solid on the mid-palate and finishing with medium length, this is a well-priced wine that pairs nicely with lighter-style fare. Drink now-2020.

Flight 4 - TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2017 (STROLLING MANHATTAN AND PERUSING EATALY) (0 notes)

After dining at Gotham Bar and Grill, we decided to walk back to our hotel, taking in the sights and sounds of Greenwich Village, Flatiron, Chelsea and Midtown. Among the many interesting sights was an amazing market and restaurant complex called Eataly. Located near the famous Flatiron building, it is an expansive congregation of meat, fish, pasta, wine, pastry, cheese, olive oil, cookbook and chocolate purveyors, architecturally designed to integrate multiple restaurants. It is difficult to describe, but the term “controlled chaos” seems to suit. The hustle and bustle seems to flow beautifully. Fortunately we were full following our Gotham meal, as we otherwise would have eaten our way through the complex.











During our stroll we also came across The Manhattan Wine Shop, where we bought a few bottles to take back to our room (so that we would not be limited to the somewhat pedestrian wine list of the hotel’s room service menu). This shop is close to the hotel at 1006 6th Avenue. It is a modest-sized store that is somewhat overpriced. While polite, the staff had no idea what they were selling. When asked if they had any Washington State wines, I was told “only wines from Washington Valley, near Washington, D.C.” I subsequently found some good Washington State wines. When I checked out, the attendant was happy that I was going to go ahead and buy some wines from Washinton, D.C. I nicely informed him that the Columbia Valley is not in Washington, D.C. but instead is in Washington State. I don’t think he believed me.

Flight 5 - TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2017 (A BROADWAY PLAY…THEN NEW YORK PIZZA) (2 notes)

Although my wife had previously seen The Lion King with our daughter a decade ago, I had never seen it. She readily agreed to see it again with me. Staged at the Minskoff theatre, it is now in its 20th year. A winner of six Tony Awards, a Grammy for best musical album and numerous other honors, it is a play well-worthy of its accolades. Although the show always sells out, we were able to snag two tickets, front row center in the orchestra section near the conductor. What a magnificent experience. I encourage any reader to see this play if he or she has not already done so.



Following the play, we were in the mood for some authentic New York pizza. Near the hotel is a tiny throwback pizza joint that is immensely popular, Patzeria Perfect Pizza (231 West 46th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue, 212-575-7646). Owned by Joseph Azzolino and Patrick Robustelli, it does not have a website but seems to do just fine without it. We ordered four different slices to go, subsequently enjoying them in our room doing a side-by-side comparison of two Washington State wines purchased earlier in the day. Thereafter, fatigue finally caught up with us. We capped the remaining wine and hit the hay.



Red
2012 Mark Ryan The Dissident USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
91 points
Opaque ruby in color, this wine was sourced from several vineyards and is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 12% Malbec, 11% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. Aged in 69% new French oak, it is ripe but very well-structured. Black currant and blackberry fruit lie at the core, accented with notes of licorice, bittersweet chocolate, cedar and toasted oak. Full-bodied, freshly acidic and with nicely integrated alcohol (listed as 14.9%), it is plump in the middle and adds notes of tobacco. The medium-length finish reveals some grip from the wine's substantial fine-grained tannins. Still very young at this point but revealing of its potential, this one could use a bit more time in the cellar. Drink 2019-2027.
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Red
2009 Three Rivers Winery Cabernet Sauvignon USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
87 points
This opaque ruby, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon includes a 3% dollop of Petit Verdot. Sourced from multiple Columbia Valley vineyards (including vineyards within the Wahluke Slope, Horse Heaven Hills and Walla Walla subappellations), it is a fresh, albeit somewhat rustic offering that delivers plentiful black fruit, crushed rocks, licorice and camphor. Although the wines's alcohol (listed as 14.5%) is seamless, the tannins are coarse. This tannic astringency is pervasive on the middle palate and medium-length finish. There is enough fruit here to ensure a "grace period" of further aging. That said, there are no guarantees that this fruit will ultimately outlast the tannins. Drink 2019-2027.

Flight 6 - WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2017 (LUNCH AT ‘21’ CLUB) (1 note)

In keeping with our biological clocks synchronized to Pacific time, we awakened late in the morning, getting a good night’s sleep in anticipation of the day’s culinary adventures. Our first stop was lunch at '21' Club. For those who have never been, this restaurant will make you feel warm and fuzzy. It starts when entering the old but beautifully appointed building, where miniature jockeys line the balcony and outdoor stairway.



The restaurant is a few steps below street level, where diners enter through heavy brass-and-glass doors to see an upscale yet speakeasy type of décor. There are two bars in the establishment, one being immediately to the right of the entry area. This is referred to as the “Bar ‘21’ and Lounge.”



To the left is a good ol’ fashioned coat-check area, complete with a friendly attendant.



The entry to the lower-level dining room, called “The Bar Room,” looks like the dining room entry of a 1920s era home. It is where the second bar is located, and this is where we dined.



A third area of the restaurant, referred to as “Upstairs at ‘21’, offers diners an elegant, mural-lined setting. This area is only open for evening dining.



The “Bar Room” has a cozy, comfortable feel. It is somewhat dimly lit and is adorned with assorted toys, football helmets and other memorabilia that hang from the ceiling. Many in my age group will immediately reminisce about special occasions as a child, when we would dress up and go to a “fancy” restaurant with our parents. In some ways, it made me want to order a Shirley Temple!



The menu offers several classic dishes as well as newer, innovative plates. As far as the wine list goes, it is one that I could have spent hours perusing. The restaurant’s has amazing depth and breadth in pretty much everything, especially Bordeaux, Burgundy and California. It is no wonder that ‘21’ Club has held a Wine Spectator Grand Award since 2003. With the assistance of our sommelier, we ordered the 2013 Domaine Henri Delagrange Pommard Les Bertins, which paired beautifully with all four dishes.

For openers my wife chose the Clayton’s jumbo lump crabmeat, served with traditional mustard sauce. These were extremely fresh, hearty-textured lumps from the body of the crab, without cartilage or shell. The portion was generous and was nicely complimented by the accompanying sauce.



I started with the soup du jour, which was minestrone. This was tasty, but not particularly memorable.



For her entrée, my wife ordered the steak frites, which was a perfectly seared, juicy filet mignon served with fries that were crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. This was pure hedonism for any carnivore.



I could not resist ordering the “speakeasy” steak tartare, which was prepared with petite greens and truffle vinaigrette, served with toast points. Our captain asked if I preferred a mild, medium or modestly spicy version of the dish. I requested the lightly spicy version. This was a good choice, as it had excellent flavor intensity but did not overwhelm the wine.

Red
2013 Domaine Henri Delagrange & Fils Pommard 1er Cru Les Bertins France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Pommard 1er Cru
92 points
Although still young, this Pinot now has enough bottle age to shed any youthful awkwardness. Medium ruby, medium-bodied and intensely aromatic, it serves up a bouquet laden with raspberries, orange zest, baking spices and rose petals. Freshly acidic, seamlessly alcoholic (13.5%) and with fine-grained tannins, it delivers flavors mirroring the nose and has good mid-palate density. Finishing with impressive length, this adolescent red Burgundy is coming into its own. While it will likely improve with further cellaring, it is quite enjoyable now. Drink now-2023.

Flight 7 - WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2017 (DINNER AT ELEVEN MADISON PARK: COURSES 1-5) (0 notes)

In this world there are many overrated entertainers, politicians, athletes and yes…even restaurants. Let me be perfectly clear in stating that, based upon my experience,
Eleven Madison Park is NOT[/b] one of them. This three-star Michelin restaurant has a newly renovated kitchen and refreshed dining room, but was able to retain its entire staff during the summertime renovation by having them work together in the Hamptons at a pop-up restaurant that they called EMP Summer House.

Our experience began with cocktails in the attractively-appointed yet comfortable lounge before transitioning to the dining room.



Shortly thereafter, we were taken to the dining room. From our vantage point, this was the best table in the restaurant. It was in a corner of the upper level, where we could see virtually everything going on. Romantic and cozy, we were very happy with where we were seated.



The staff at Eleven Madison Park works in unison like a well-oiled machine. They all seem to know the business from the ground up, which is not surprising when considering that each dining room employee always begins as a kitchen server. Our captain, sommelier, multiple servers and bussers looked and acted very professionally. The “look” begins with impeccable grooming and is enhanced by the tailor-made gray suit that each employee wears. The “act” of professionalism is in their friendly, unpretentious yet knowledgeable demeanor. They were at our table when we wanted (or needed) them, yet were by no means cloying. All of this made us feel very welcome and comfortable.

I couldn’t wait to peruse the restaurant’s Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning list. Having discussed the menu with our captain, we felt that a half bottle of white Burgundy and a full bottle of red Burgundy would be the way to go. With over 3,800 selections (187 pages), I realized that I would need some assistance selecting the best red, but did feel comfortable ordering a half-bottle of 2015 Domaine Matrot Meursault Les Chevalières. For the red, our sommelier recommended the 2014 Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay Vendanges Sélectionnées, which was expertly decanted for aeration (in light of its youth).



Our dining adventure began with a gift-wrapped box containing (for each of us) a black and white savory cookie, with apple and cheddar. These popped with flavor!



The ensuing dish arrived as a single wooden container, which was then taken deconstructed by our server and arranged into an array of interlocking serving plates. They include roasted chestnut with black truffle, sweet potato tart with black garlic, apple with caramel and foie gras and fall game pie with pearl onion.





The next dish was an impressively creative sturgeon cheesecake with “everything” bagel and pickle crust, dressed with caviar. This was visually and texturally beautiful and was packed with flavor.



The next course was the first point at which my serving deviated from my wife’s, based upon the options presented to us at the start of the meal. My spouse was served seared foie gras with beets, rye and horseradish, while I was presented with little neck clams marinated with fennel and Meyer lemon. We sampled each other’s dishes and could not decide which was better, because they were both so impressive.





Thereafter the table was provided with breads and butter, which were seasoned with onion and garlic. Coarse sea salt was served alongside.



For the next course, my wife was served butter-poached Maine lobster with potato and chanterelles, while I was treated to poached tilefish with parsnip and pike roe. The lobster was exquisite and the tilefish was fresh, light and flavorful. Both of these dishes paired very well with the Matrot Meursault.





Our dishes again converged when our server brought out a whole roasted pumpkin wrapped in bacon and seaweed. This was carved tableside and dressed with a liquid concoction of bacon and maple syrup. The textures and autumnal flavors here were fantastic!



Flight 8 - WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2017 (DINNER AT ELEVEN MADISON PARK: COURSES 6-9) (2 notes)

The ensuing course included our main proteins. My wife was served roasted duck, glazed with lavender honey and served with baked apple. I was presented with dry-aged veal, perfectly cooked and served with bitter greens and shallots. Concurrently served (to go with both dishes) were plates of kale (with pearl onions and farm egg) and potatoes (as confit, purée and crumble). These dishes were nicely complemented by the Lafarge Volnay.





The next course was a whimsical play on a pretzel, drizzled with New York cheddar and mustard, served with saison beer (made exclusively for Eleven Madison Park by Threes Brewing, labeled as “Grain of Salt.” This was a fun, tasty combination that, by its flavor, shifted the setting from an elegant restaurant to Yankee Stadium. We loved it!





Our desserts diverged, with my wife receiving chocolates filled with shortbread and ice cream. I was served variations of cranberries, along with spiced ice cream and pears.





The evening concluded with a chocolate-covered pretzel, served with apple brandy. A fitting end to an absolutely glorious evening.



All in all, this was a tremendous dining experience. At the time of our departure, we were given gift bags, each containing a small tin with a pleated menu of what we each consumed, along with a jar of homemade granola.



We returned to our hotel and slept well in our contentment. Chef Daniel Humm is a culinary genius and his well-trained staff is the gold standard by which every other fine-dining restaurant should measured.

White
2015 Domaine Matrot Meursault Les Chevalières France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
89 points
This straw-colored Chardonnay delivers aromas and flavors of Meyer lemon, green apple, pear and wet stones. Light-bodied, fresh and seamlessly alcoholic (13%), it retains good presence on the middle palate and closes with a crisp, medium-length finish. Already drinking well, this white Burgundy should provide pleasure for an additional 6-7 years. Drink now-2024.
Red
2014 Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay Vendanges Sélectionnées France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay
91 points
Give this deep ruby Pinot plenty of air time at this point, as it shows very little during the first 1-2 hours following decantation. Thereafter, it offers nice aromatics and flavors, delivering a payload of raspberries, orange peel, Asian spices and black tea. Medium-bodied, freshly acidic and with medium sweet tannins, it has good mid-palate density and finishes with good length. Although pleasant, this wine should improve with some additional time in the cellar. Drink 2019-2025.
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Flight 9 - THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2017 (LUNCH AT JEAN-GEORGES: COURSES 1-3) (1 note)

After sleeping in late, we headed out for a much-anticipated lunch at Jean-Georges. We admittedly felt that this was likely to fall short, after having just dined at Eleven Madison Park a few hours earlier. To the contrary, this experience did nothing other than to meet (or even raise) the bar. Jean-Georges Vongerichten is absolutely brilliant. If Daniel Humm is the culinary version of Sir Isaac Newton, Chef Vongerichten is Albert Einstein. How can you decide who has the higher culinary IQ???

Jean-Georges is another restaurant that exceeds its hype on so many levels. Located in the Central Park West Trump Tower, it is a beautifully appointed restaurant with subdued colors, diffused light and an elegant yet relaxing vibe. As was the case with Eleven Madison Park, we were lucky enough to be seated in a corner booth table, which gave us full-view of the intimate dining room. This is distinct from the bar (and its somewhat more casual dining area) through which diners pass when entering what, as we discovered by the end of our meal, are essentially the gates of heaven.



We were immediately greeted by our captain, a young woman in her early twenties who was (like all of the other dining room staff) impeccably groomed in a tailored vested outfit. She was as professional and knowledgeable as she was dressed, with complete cerebral control over ingredients and every other detail of each and every dish. Our sommelier was equally knowledgeable about his area of expertise, as were all servers and bussers. These people could have brought me a Big Mac with fries and we would have still been happy by virtue of how special they made us feel. That said, the cuisine was on a bit higher level.

I was provided with the Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning wine list, which I perused with great joy. Knowing what we would be ordering for food, we decided that a white Burgundy would be the best overall match. I consulted with our sommelier and it was mutually decided that the 2015 Domaine Leflaive Mâcon-Verzé would be a good choice. Albeit not one of the higher-end offerings from Leflaive, the quality of the vintage and producer spoke volumes. It was an excellent match with each and every dish.

We began with assorted delicious breads and herb butter (rosemary olive, Swedish rye, ciabatta and sour dough). My favorite was the olive, while my wife’s was the sour dough.



Thereafter we progressed to an amuse-bouche of bean-cured salmon (served over sunflower yogurt, topped with picked Fresno chile and dill), tempura of eggplant (with saffron honey and goat cheese) and carrot minestrone soup with shiso mint.



My wife’s appetizer was stunning. Fresh caviar over Meyer lemon gelée, served with crème fraiche and a wisp of dill. This was gorgeous visually. The Bulgarian osetra caviar was perfectly textured…each egg “popped” in the mouth with a burst of flavor. Amazing in every sense of the word!



I chose the sea trout, served with dill purée, olive oil lemon foam, trout roe and crispy horseradish. The fish was extremely fresh, served in small slices that were easy to eat. The texture of the mild horseradish added a “crunch” that vaulted this dish from a “10” to an “11” (on a scale of 10). Magnificent and beautifully creative.



For her second course, my wife ordered a pumpkin ravioli with Parmesan and crushed amaretti. The pasta was perfectly al dente, the pumpkin fresh, the flavors sublime and the textures beyond sublime. This was another knockout dish.



I ordered the diver scallops, served with caramelized cauliflower and drizzled with a caper-raisin emulsion. Again, here was a phenomenal combination of flavors and textures…not to mention a visual work of art.



Our third courses kept the momentum going. My wife was served pan roasted wild hake with flowering broccolini and jade emulsion. The fish was crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. It goes unsaid that the fish was also ultra-fresh and packed with flavor.



I ordered the Parmesan crusted organic chicken confit, served with artichoke, basil and lemon butter. Bites of the chicken with artichoke on the same fork proved the flavor combination to be a celestial match!

White
2015 Domaine Leflaive Mâcon-Verzé France, Burgundy, Mâconnais, Mâcon-Verzé
90 points
Pale yellow and nicely aromatic, this wine offers up scents of white flowers, Meyer lemons, pit fruits and wet stones. Light-bodied, fresh, softly oaked and with seamless alcohol (listed as 14%), it delivers flavors mirroring the nose, has good mid-palate denisity and finishes with medium length. This is a very credible white Burgundy that performs well above its pedigree (likely by virtue of its producer and vintage). Drink now-2023.

Flight 10 - THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2017 (LUNCH AT JEAN-GEORGES: SWEET FINISH…AND A SURPRISE) (0 notes)

Following our fish and chicken courses, we were served an arrangement of truffles. These included a pistachio ganache, cherry cordial, passion fruit ganache, blood orange pâte de fruit and vanilla marshmallow (cut tableside).



The truffles would have otherwise been the perfect ending to a perfect meal. However, we were then treated to something very special by being in the right place at the right time. Seated at a nearby table throughout our meal was a couple who were obviously close friends of Chef Vongerichten and his brother, general manager Philippe Vongerichten. Jean-Georges and Philippe made numerous visits to the table, bringing off-the-menu dishes and chatting with the couple in French. At the close of their meal, Philippe came out with a cart and intact pineapple. He then proceeded to skillfully spiral-cut the pineapple with a razor-sharp knife. Watching this should have required a cover charge! As a physician, I was thoroughly impressed with his surgical skills. After the pineapple was fully stripped, he then cut slices (from the bottom up), placed them on the plate and sprinkled them with dried rose petals and other edible flowers, followed by a drizzle of kirsch. It was a sight to behold.







Much to our surprise thereafter, Philippe (having noticed that we were watching intently) graciously offered us servings of this delicious, refreshing work of art. What a treat and what a nice gentleman he is!



All in all, lunch at Jean-Georges was something that we will never forget. Chef Vongerichten and his polished team made the experience rise to the level of the sublime. We look forward to returning for dinner when we next visit New York.

Flight 11 - THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR CRITICS’ CHOICE GRAND TASTING #1) (41 notes)

Chaotic as they may seem, the Wine Spectator Grand Tasting events have a certain “flow” that we have come to know. For newbies at these events, it can be a bit intimidating and even stressful. However, this seasoned veteran can provide the following advice: don’t let it get you uptight! By the end of these tastings, participants will always be able to taste their favorite wines and discover new gems that they have never tried. The ability to taste is limited only by the sheer number of participating wineries, not the inability to physically get to any specific wine table. We typically find that, by the end of the evening, we have tasted as many wines as our palate will allow. It does help that full weekend participants are allowed to enter the tasting an hour earlier than general admission participants (and have two nights to taste rather than just one), but, rest assured, even the general admission participants have the opportunity to taste until their palates fatigue.



As is always the case, the Grand Tastings encompass two floors of ballroom space (fifth and sixth at the Marriott Marquis). We confined our first evening of tasting to the fifth floor, although I did briefly slip away to the sixth floor to sample a couple of wines. Both floors offer a nice spread of food to make sure that participants don’t go hungry.



During the tasting, my wife was reunited with an old friend, Angelo Gaja. A legend in the wine business, he is an amazingly affable, humble and kind soul.



After the tasting, we retired to our hotel room. Still synchronized with California time, we stayed up late, ordered snacks and had a glass of Northstar Cabernet (from a bottle purchased two days previously at The Manhattan Wine Shop).

Red
2002 Château Lafite Rothschild France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
92 points
Lafite's 2002 iteration is a deep ruby blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.5% Merlot and 3.5% Cabernet Franc. While it does offer primary aromas of black currants, licorice, graphite, earth and pipe tobacco, it does not yield much on the palate as a result of its tart acidity and biting tannins. The wine is full-bodied and seamlessly alcoholic. It also has good mid-palate density and a long finish. That said, it is very angular and not particularly pleasant at this point. Those holding bottles from this difficult vintage would be wise to continue cellaring them, as there is no great reward to be had currently. Drink 2022-2035.
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Red
2006 Château Cheval Blanc France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
92 points
A deep red/garnet blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Franc, the 2006 Cheval Blanc offers an intense bouquet of bramble fruits, cassis, lavender, bittersweet chocolate and minerals. Full-bodied, freshly acidic, seamlessly alcoholic and with substantial grippy tannins, it delivers flavors mirroring the nose, adding a slight green element on the lengthy back end. Despite being a success for the vintage, this does not possess the charm that Cheval Blanc typically exudes in better years. This will require more time in the cellar, but I doubt that it will ever become something monumental. Drink 2025-2040.
Red
2003 Château Calon-Ségur France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
93 points
This deep ruby/red blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot delivers an abundance of dark bramble fruits, anise, tobacco, Asian spices and pencil shavings. Full-bodied, seamlessly alcoholic (13%) and with low-to-medium acidity, it has a substantial backbone of fine-grained tannins but retains a silky mouth texture. Dense and layered on the mid-palate, it goes on to closes with impressive length. This delicious, fruit-forward version of Calon-Ségur is now just entering its drinking window. Drink now-2030.
4 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2005 Château Branaire-Ducru France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
94 points
From a stellar vintage, this version of Branaire-Ducru is nothing less than class in a glass. Deep ruby/red in color, it is packed with ripe cassis, dark cherries, bittersweet chocolate, espresso and baking spices. Full-bodied, fresh and with nicely integrated alcohol (13.3%), it wraps its fruit with silky-textured tannins and stays impressively solid on the mid-palate. Long and smooth on the back end, this young Bordeaux is simply a joy to drink. While it may improve with further cellaring, it would by no means be a mistake to open a bottle now. Drink now-2030.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2000 Château Léoville Las Cases France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
99 points
This youthful-appearing, opaque ruby wine is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc and 9% Merlot. Packed with black currants, black cherries, graphite, exotic spices, dark chocolate, hazelnuts and tobacco, it is fresh, full-bodied, fleshy and layered. With big sweet tannins, integrated alcohol and harmonious oak, it coats the palate and seems to last forever on the finish. This iteration of Léoville-Las-Cases approaches perfection, which it may achieve with a bit more time in the cellar. Drink 2020-2050.
6 people found this helpful Comments (2)
Red
2008 Château Cos d'Estournel France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
92 points
This deep-to-opaque ruby blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc offers a nice array of dark bramble fruits, cassis, pipe tobacco, graphite, leather and hazelnuts. Full-bodied, fresh, seamlessly alcoholic and with nicely integrated oak, it is still dominated by chewy tannins that persist throughout the dense middle palate and lengthy back end. Give this some additional cellar time. Because of the wine's beautiful fruit, I doubt that the tannins will prevail in the long run. Drink 2022-2040.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2008 Château Pontet-Canet France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
91 points
Quite unforgiving at this point, the 2008 iteration of Pontet-Canet will require a great deal of patience. An opaque ruby blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, it does exude freshness and a rich core of cassis, fig, plum and spice, but is dominated by coarse, mouth-puckering tannins. The astringency persists throughout the dense mid-palate and lengthy finish. Anything other than cellaring is not an option with this wine. Give it at least five more years before re-assessment. Drink 2022-2040.
6 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Château Giscours France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
95 points
A deep ruby blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot, the 2010 Giscours is hedonistic from start to finish. Sporting a gorgeous nose of cassis, lavender, baking spices and truffles, it is a medium-to-full-bodied, fresh wine with seamless alcohol (13.7%), nicely integrated oak and plentiful silky-textured tannins. Beautifully dense on the mid-palate, it goes on to finish with impressive length. Everything is harmonious here! This young Bordeaux is already enjoyable. Drink now-2035
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Château Figeac France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
94 points
Since last being tasted two years ago, this deep-to-opaque ruby blend of 35% Cabernet Franc, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot has rounded out quite a bit. While it delivers the same payload of cassis, plum, anise, green olive and fig, it adds nuances of tobacco leaf and leather. At the same time, the wine is still fresh, while its tannins have become more silky-textured. The alcohol and oak remain harmonious and the middle palate is solid. Concluding with a long, smooth finish, this is definitely getting close to its drinking window. Drink 2020-2035.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Château La Conseillante France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
96 points
Conseillante's 2010 is a monumental wine that perfectly fits the descriptor "iron fist in a velvet glove." An opaque ruby blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, it is highly perfumed with lavender, violets, and pipe tobacco, superimposed on a core of black and blue fruits. Full-bodied, freshly acidic, seamlessly alcoholic and with plentiful fine-grained tannins, it weaves a complementary amount of oak into the dense middle palate and closes with notes of bittersweet chocolate on a very long finish. This is something special, but will require further cellaring to fully strut its stuff. Drink 2025-2050.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Château Smith Haut Lafitte France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
95 points
This opaque ruby ruby wine (a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot) has a dense core of tarry black fruit, bittersweet chocolate, mulling spices, espresso and lavender. Full-bodied, fresh and with nicely integrated alcohol, it wraps its flavor package with plentiful polished tannins and harmonious oak. Layered on the middle palate and concluding very long, this vintage of Smith Haut Lafitte is undeniably classic in quality. Drink 2022-2045.
4 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2006 Château Haut-Brion France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
94 points
Deep ruby in color, the '06 Haut-Brion flaunts black currant fruit, graphite, anise, tobacco and tar. A blend of 57% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc, it is full-bodied, fresh and has nicely integrated alcohol, yet still has substantial fine-grained tannins and a fair amount of oak. This will require more time to flesh out, but all of the components are in place. Drink 2022-2040.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2004 Château La Mission Haut-Brion France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
92 points
A success for the vintage, this well-made La Mission Haut-Brion (a blend of 55% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc) offers dark bramble fruits, mulling spices, earth and tobacco on both the nose and palate. Medium-to-full-bodied, freshly acidic, seamlessly alcoholic and with a backbone of grippy tannins, it stays solid in the middle and finishes medium-to-long. This still presents itself as quite rustic in character. Those who own this wine and have the means to cellar it well are best to give it more time. Drink 2024-2040.
Red
2012 Château Quintus France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
91 points
There is a certain hedonistic quality to this deep ruby wine, which is laced with black currants, dark bramble fruits, tobacco and pickling spice. Medium-to-full-bodied, fresh, seamlessly alcoholic and with sweet tannins, remains solid in the middle and has just the right amount of oak. With beautiful purity of fruit and a long finish, this Bordeaux could potentially attract lovers of New World Cabernet. Drink now-2030.
Red
2012 Château Pavie France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
95 points
This opaque crimson wine drinks like a structured New World Cabernet. Packed with black and red fruit, it adds notes of bittersweet chocolate, espresso, vanilla and mulling spices. Full-bodied, fresh and with nicely integrated alcohol, it wraps its ripe fruit with big sweet tannins and harmonious oak. The middle palate is dense and the finish seems to last forever. Very impressive for a 2012, this will become something very special with some cellaring. Drink 2022-2040.
Red
2014 Clos Fourtet France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
93 points
Exuding lots of youthful charm, this deep ruby version of Clos Fourtet (a blend of 89% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc) is seductive from the get-go. Ripe black and red currants are accented with anise, espresso and dark chocolate. Full-bodied, fresh and with big sweet tannins, it stays dense in the middle, is approriately oaked and shows no alcoholic heat. Finishing with good length, this is an overachiever for Clos Fourtet in this particular vintage. Drink 2024-2040.
Red
2014 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
94 points
A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, this opaque crimson wine delivers black and blue fruits, accented with notes of exotic spices, savory herbs, lead pencil, vanilla and dark chocolatee. Full-bodied, fresh and with nicely integrated alcohol, it wraps its flavors with plentiful fine-grained tannins. This wine's élevage was entirely in new French oak, and there is still some integration that will need to occur with respect to the wood. Nevertheless, its purity of fruit, dense mid-palate and long finish demonstrate that the components are all in place. Give this some cellar time. Drink 2025-2050.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2006 Domaine de Chevalier France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
92 points
Loaded with black fruit, espresso, pipe tobacco, earth and bittersweet chocolate, this deep ruby blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot is getting close to its drinking window. While there are still substantial tannins, they are relatively soft in texture at this point, lending a degree of refinement not seen from many '06 offerings. The wine is freshly acidic, while the alcohol and oak are both well-integrated. Plump on the mid-palate and finishing long, this seems to be nicely shedding its youthful awkwardness. A bit more time in the cellar will likely lead to further improvement. Thereafter, it should show well for 15+ years. Drink 2020-2035.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2008 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
97 points
This opaque ruby wine (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) plays beautiful music from start to finish. Packed with black fruit, bittersweet chocolate, fig, licorice and baking spices, it is a fleshy yet very fresh wine. Despite being listed as 15.5%, the alcohol is nicely integrated, which is also the case for the wine's oak. Big sweet tannins lend structure to the solid mid-palate and lengthy finish. I cannot imagine anyone not being infatuated with this sexy Cabernet. Drinkable now, it has the structure to age gracefully for many years. Drink now-2040.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2012 Carter Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon The Grand Daddy Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
96 points
Ripe cassis, dark plums, exotic spices, pine nuts and bittersweet chocolate are front and center on this opaque ruby, full-bodied Cabernet. Voluptuously round and with beautifully integrated alcohol (14.9%), it supports its fruit with plentiful silky tannins and nicely woven oak. Dense and layered in the middle, it goes on to close with impressive length. This hedonistic wine should continue to provide pleasure for many more years. Drink now-2030.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Opus One USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
This deep ruby wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 2% Malbec. It combines ripe Napa Valley fruit with the structure and elegance of fine Bordeaux. Cassis, dark bramble fruits, graphite, anise and pipe tobacco are supported by fresh acidity, seamless alcohol (listed as 14.5%), nicely woven oak and plentiful silky tannins. Fleshy on the mid-palate and long on the finish, this is an impressive wine that may merit an even higher score once it enters its drinking window. Drink 2020-2040.
Red
2013 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon RBS Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
94 points
Opulent in every sense of the word, this opaque crimson wine (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) delivers a heavily-extracted package of black and blue fruits, supported with notes of lavender, licorice, bittersweet chocolate and espresso. Fresh and seamlessly alcoholic (14.6%), it wraps its flavors with big sweet tannins. Layered and dense on the middle palate, it subsequently closes with a long, vanilla-laden finish. The oak is still fairly prominent at this early stage and will require some time to integrate, but there is no denying the potential here. An even higher score may be merited in the future. Drink 2022-2040.
4 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
95 points
This opaque Crimson Cabernet Sauvignon includes a 1% dollop of Petit Verdot. Effusive of dark currants, blackberries, licorice, espresso and savory herbs, it is a full-bodied, freshly acidic wine possessing mouth-coating tannins and substantial creamy oak. With a solid middle palate, seamless alcohol (14.8%) and a lengthy finish, all this needs is some cellar time to allow its components to integrate. The substrate is all there. Drink 2022-2040.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 K Vintners Syrah Rock Garden USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley
93 points
Packed with black, red and blue fruits, this deep ruby wine (100% Syrah) adds notes of savory herbs, Asian spices and smoked meat. Full-bodied, fresh and without any alcoholic heat (13%), it has a dense middle palate with medium-weight, fine-grained tannins. Persisting nicely on the back end, this is another quality red from the Evergreen State. It should be at its best over the next 7-8 years. Drink now-2025.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Reynvaan Family Vineyards Syrah In the Rocks USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley
95 points
The "In the Rocks" vineyard is located in a dried up river bed that has large smooth rocks similar to the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. However, this Syrah (co-fermented with 5% Viognier) is more reminiscent of something from Côte-Rôtie. Laced with smoky black cherries, dark bramble fruits, bacon, violets and black pepper, it is a deep ruby, fresh, full-bodied wine that is hard to resist. The wine's alcohol and oak are beautifully integrated and the middle palate is dense. Finishing long but with some tannic grip, this will require a bit of cellar time to achieve its lofty potential. Drink 2020-2030.
5 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2009 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
94 points
From a blend of 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise, 5% Cinsault and 15% other allowable varietals (Vaccarèse, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Clairette, Picpoul, Picardan, Bourboulenc and Roussanne ), this deep ruby wine is in a beautiful place. Dark bramble fruits, black plums, Provençal herbs, mocha and roasted meat aromas are followed by comparable flavors on a medium-to-full-bodied, fresh palate. The alcohol, oak and tannins are all integrated here, making the wine very easy to drink. Dense in the middle and finishing long, this will evolve over the next decade but should remain delicious. Drink now-2030.
5 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2011 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Riserva Falletto Vigna Le Rocche Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
98 points
This six-year-old, grand Barolo is already complex. To be sure, there is a beautiful core of red fruit, but there are also nuances of leather, tobacco, Asian spices, savory herbs and chamomile. Full-bodied, freshly acidic, seamlessly alcoholic (14.5%) and with plentiful grippy tannins, it is luscious on the mid-palate and very long on the back end. There is greatness here, but cellar time will be required to put it fully on display. Drink 2022-2040.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2007 Renato Ratti Barolo Rocche Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
93 points
Now with a decade of age, this medium garnet wine is strutting its stuff. Spicy red fruit, anise, dried herbs, tobacco, cocoa and loamy earth reside in a medium-to-full-bodied, freshly acidic frame. The wine's alcohol (listed as 14.5%) is nicely integrated, as is the oak. The tannins are still present but have softened, leaving a velvety mouth texture throughout the solid middle palate and lengthy finish. This is now in its drinking window and there should be no hesitation in pulling a cork. That said, it has plenty of fruit to ensure at least another decade of enjoyment. Drink now-2027.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2012 Terre degli Svevi Aglianico del Vulture Re Manfredi Italy, Basilicata, Aglianico del Vulture
89 points
This deep ruby wine is a structured red, possessing firm acidity and grippy tannins. That said, there is a nice core of plummy fruit, tobacco, mint and mulled spices that is pervasive from start to finish. The alcohol and oak are well-integrated and there is good presence on the mid-palate. Tart and astringent on the medium-length finish, I would be inclined to give this rustic wine some cellar time. Drink 2022-2030.
Red
2001 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Riserva Granbussia Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
98 points
What a treat to sample this 16-year-old wine from an ex-château bottle. Medium garnet in color, it is currently at a beautiful stage in its evolution. Layered with dried pit fruits, Asian spices, pipe tobacco, leather, black tea and savory herbs, it offers a level of complexity that defies written description. Medium bodied and with good acidity, it has soft residual tannins and a silky mouth texture. Impressively dense on the middle palate and very long on the finish, this is classic in quality and nothing short of spectacular. Well-cellared bottles should hold up for at least another decade. Drink now-2027.
3 people found this helpful Comments (2)
Red
2013 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
96 points
Poured by Angelo Gaja from an ex-château bottle, the 2013 iteration of Sorì Tildin proved itself to be a blockbuster. With a core of ripe cherry and raspberry fruit, the wine adds layers of baking spices, minerals, saddle leather, cocoa and savory herbs. Full-bodied, freshly acidic, seamlessly alcoholic (14%) and with substantial firm tannins, it is very dense on the mid-palate and closes with a long but astringent finish. Put this in the cellar and forget about it for a decade. Thereafter, the butterfly will emerge from the cocoon. Drink 2027-2045.
White
2015 St. Urbans-Hof Wiltinger Riesling Alte Reben Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
88 points
Very pale in color, this wine could easy be confused with water based upon its appearance. That said, no one would be confused after experiencing the wine's nice aromas of green apples, citrus, white flowers and Asian spices. Light-bodied, fresh and without noticeable alcohol, it delivers flavors mirroing the nose, stays solid in the middle and finiishes with medium length. Enjoy this refreshing Riesling in its youth. Drink now-2020.
White - Sweet/Dessert
2006 Château d'Yquem France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
96 points
This deep golden blend of 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc is intensely floral, flaunting notes of honeysuckle augmented with yellow peaches, apricots, Mandarin oranges, tropical fruits and almonds. With good balancing acidity, it maintains a mouth-coating posture throughout a very lengthy, crème brûlée-laden finish. This is another successful vintage for Yquem that should last for decades. Drink now-2060.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sweet/Dessert
2009 Château Climens France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Barsac
95 points
Medium golden in color, the '09 Climens delivers an array of fruits, spices and nuts that is beautifully offset by a good dose of balancing acidity. Ripe citrus, peaches, honey, almonds, apricots, ginger and vanilla reside in an unctuous elixer that coats the palate. The middle stays dense and the lengthy finish concludes with a whiff of baked apple. Very impressive and undeniably classic in quality, this will evolve but remain delicious for many more years. Drink now-2050.
2 people found this helpful Comments (1)
White - Sweet/Dessert
2013 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance South Africa, Coastal Region, Cape Peninsula, Constantia
95 points
Made entirely from Muscat de Frontignan, Klein Constantia's '13 iteration of Vin de Constance is packed with ripe pears, peaches, tangerines, vanilla and apricots. Extremely sweet and syrupy, it is able to keep everything in balance by virtue of its fresh acidity. The finish seems to last forever! This is a very unique nectar that will hold up for decades. Drink now-2050.
White - Sweet/Dessert
2013 Royal Tokaji Wine Co. Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos Gold Label Hungary, Tokaji
97 points
This medium golden wine offers aromas and flavors of candied orange peel, dried apricots, white peaches, almonds, vanilla and Asian spices. Unctous and freshly acidic, it maintains good tension throughout the solid middle palate and long finish. This wine's harmonious flavors and gorgeous acid/sweetness balance vault it well into the "classic quality" category. Drink now-2060.
White
2014 Kistler Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
93 points
Striking a nice equilibrium between fruit and minerality, Kistler's '14 Trenton Roadhouse is a definite winner. Straw-colored and medium-bodied, it serves up an array of citrus, melon, baked apple, wet stone and pine nut aromas, with comparable flavors on the freshly acidic palate. The alcohol is nicely integrated, which is also the case for the wine's toasty oak. Rich on the mid-palate and finishing long, this is a quality Chardonnay that is already showing well. Enjoy it over the next decade. Drink now-2027.
White
2013 Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru
90 points
With aromas of honeysuckle, pit fruits, citrus and wet stones, this pale yellow Chardonnay stays light on its feet from beginning to end. Freshly acidic and with seamless alcohol, it has good mid-palate presence and closes with a crisp, medium-length finish. Enjoy this vibrant, mineral-driven white over the next 7-8 years. Drink now-2025.
Red
2011 Bond Pluribus USA, California, Napa Valley
90 points
Still a youthful deep ruby, the '11 Pluribus delivers aromas and flavors of dark bramble fruits, black plums, green olives, loamy earth, cedar and vanilla. Medium-to-full-bodied and without alcohoic heat, it retains firm tannins and a very acidic backbone which borders on being acerbic. Solid in the middle, it ends up flashing some vegetal notes on the astringent finish. Although this wine clearly merits cellaring and may round out many of its rough edges, I am concerned that it may ultimately fall victim to the vintage. It simply does not demonstrate the physiological ripeness that this vineyard can deliver in better vintages. Drink 2020-2031.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2006 Harlan Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
97 points
Rich and concentrated, this deep ruby-colored Cabernet will never be confused with something from Bordeaux. What it does offer, however, is a good representation of what can be achieved in the Napa Valley (which many would consider to be superior). Ripe black currants, Bing cherries, figs, baking spices and bittersweet chocolate are framed with fresh acidity and plentiful silky-textured tannins. The wine's alcohol and oak are beautifully integrated and the middle palate is impressive dense. The finish is borderline unctous and decadently long. As good as this is now, it will get even better with additional time in the cellar. Drink 2020-2040.
3 people found this helpful Comments (2)
Red
2011 Northstar Cabernet Sauvignon USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
90 points
Still very youthful, this deep ruby wine (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) flaunts dark bramble fruit, blueberry, licorice, chocolate and loamy earth aromas. Full-bodied, freshly acidic and with nicely integrated alcohol (listed as 14.7%), it delivers a black and blue fruit flavor payload that is supported by medium-weight, fine-grained tannins. Nicely dense on the mid-palate and medium in length on the back end, this is a quality Cabernet that is early in its drinking window. Enjoy it over the next decade. Drink now-2027.

Flight 12 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR MORNING PROGRAM: INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS) (0 notes)

The Friday morning seminar session began with welcoming comments from Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator Executive Editor. Conspicuously absent was Marvin Shanken, Publisher. Matthews explained that, for the first time in 37 years, Shanken could not provide the welcoming speech, this being due to an unavoidable business conflict. The following day, Shanken revealed that he had been given the honor of being a trustee for his alma mater, the University of Miami. His very first trustee board meeting was at the same time as the Friday morning session, and he correctly felt that the participants would forgive him for missing one day in 37 years.

Flight 13 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR MORNING PROGRAM: VEUVE CLICQUOT CHAMPAGNE) (4 notes)

Introduced by Alison Napjus, Wine Spectator Senior Editor, was Pierre Casenave, winemaker for Veuve Clicquot.





Pierre is an engaging young man with an infectious personality. He delivered a nice talk about Veuve Clicquot and the history of La Grande Dame (named as a tribute to Madame Clicquot). The guided tasting was quite revealing about the production of the 2006 Brut Rosé, as well as the aromatic and flavor differences of the three distinct Brut vintages.

Rosé - Sparkling
2006 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé La Grande Dame France, Champagne
95 points
Sourced from eight different Grand Cru vineyards, this wine is a blend of 51% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay and 15% red Pinot Noir from Bouzy (to create its light salmon color). Sporting a brisk tiny bead, it serves up intense floral, raspberry, strawberry and orange zest aromas, accented with notes of brioche. Medium-bodied, it is elegant yet has great tension. Delivering flavors mirroring the aromas and remaining vibrant throughout its lengthy finish, this is delicious at present but also has the structure to perform well for several more years. Drink now-2026.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2006 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut La Grande Dame France, Champagne
94 points
My independent note for this straw-colored blend of 53% Pinot Noir and 47% Chardonnay is strikingly similar to my recorded impression from 6/11/17. This is a mouth-watering Champagne with a creamy mousse and a gorgeous mix of lemon curd, minerals, baked apples, white flowers and toasted brioche. Medium-bodied, vibrant and dense on the mid-palate, it goes on to finish very long. Give this a tête de cuvée some cellar time. As before, this particular tasting constituted infanticide. Drink 2020-2030.
3 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
1989 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut La Grande Dame France, Champagne
92 points
Now 28-years-old, Veuve Clicquot's '89 tête de cuvée (a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay) continues to show well. Medium gold in color, it retains a less active mousse but makes up for it with aromas and flavors of walnuts, marzipan, baked apples, brioche and saline. Crisply acidic and with good mid-palate density, it goes on to finish long and crisp. This bottle suggests that comparably cellared specimens should hold up for another five years or more. Drink now-2022.
White - Sparkling
1979 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut La Grande Dame France, Champagne
95 points
This golden elixer is a blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay. It retains a respectable tiny bead considering its age, and serves up and intense olfactory experience. Dried fruits, roasted almonds, honeysuckle, toast and mineral aromas are followed by similar flavors on a vibrant palate. There is more tactile activity on the tongue than would be anticipated based upon the visible bubble activity. The back end seems to go on and on. This bottle (ex-château) was amazingly youthful and delicious. Comparably cellared bottles should provide pleasure for at least another five years. Drink now-2022.

Flight 14 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR MORNING PROGRAM: WINE STAR #1; MARILISA ALLEGRINI) (1 note)

Recently featured in the Wine Spectator magazine, Marilisa Allegrini proved herself to be equally charming in person. She spoke emotionally about her last appearance at the New York Wine Experience shortly after 9/11, mentioning how sad she felt about the sucker punch that had been thrown at America. She also confessed that she was a bit intimidated at that time, as Robert Mondavi was sitting in the front row.



Marilisa went on to discuss how her father, Giovanni, purchased the family property in 1979. Working the land extensively, he planted vineyards, but unfortunately passed away in 1983. The tiny La Poja vineyard, only 6.5 acres, is actually the upper parcel of the family’s La Grola vineyard. Planted entirely to Corvina, it yields Allegrini’s most exclusive and prestigious wine. She went on to talk about family succession of the business, as well as the characteristics of the Verona La Poja 2000 being served to the participants.

Red
2000 Allegrini La Poja Veronese IGT Italy, Veneto, Veronese IGT
90 points
Comprised of 100% Corvina, this deep garnet wine flaunts aromas and flavors of dried cherries, walnuts, Mediterranean herbs and exotic spices. Full-bodied, freshly acidic, seamlessly alcoholic (14.5%) and with medium-weight residual tannins, it is layered and dense on the mid-palate, finishing with medium length. Enjoy this over the next five years. Drink now-2022.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 15 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR MORNING PROGRAM: BURGUNDY CLOS VOUGEOT) (4 notes)

Introduced by Bruce Sanderson, Wine Spectator Senior Editor, were cousins Francois Labet (Château de la Tour) and Pierre-Henry Gagey (Louis Jadot). These two men essentially grew up together and described themselves as being like brothers. The banter was entertaining but also informative. They pointed out that Clos Vougeot is the largest enclosed Grand Cru vineyard in Burgundy, second only to Corton in terms of total size. With Clos Vougeot spanning 124 acres and having 82 different owners, there can be wide variation in style and quality amongst producers. Fortunately, these two producers own substantial plots within Clos Vougeot (Château de la Tour 14.82 acres and Louis Jadot 6.18 acres) and accordingly can tightly control the quality of their product.



Red
2014 Domaine Château De La Tour Clos Vougeot Vieilles Vignes France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru
94 points
2017 New York Wine Experience Trip (Write-Up n Progress); 10/16/2017-10/25/2017 (New York City, NY): From vines planted in 1910, this medium ruby-colored wine delivers a payload of Bing cherries, stone fruits, pine nuts, earth and lavender. Medium-to-full-bodied, fresh, seamlessly oaked and with substantial fine-grained tannins, it is intensely concentrated by virtue of the small 2014 crop (a result of springtime shatter). Dense, layered, seamlessly alcoholic and very long on the finish, this is an outstanding Pinot that will require some cellar time to fully strut its stuff. Drink 2022-2034.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2011 Louis Jadot Clos Vougeot France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru
88 points
This medium ruby wine remains tight on both the nose and palate. While there are some cherry, earth and dried herb notes, it is otherwise quite shut in at this point. Medium-bodied, fresh, seamlessly alcoholic and with medium-weight, dry tannins, it has good density in the middle and finishes with medium length. I suspect that this Pinot simply needs time in the cellar. As such, it may merit a higher score in the future. Drink 2021-2030.
Red
2010 Domaine Château De La Tour Clos Vougeot Vieilles Vignes France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru
93 points
This deep ruby, highly perfumed Pinot offers intense aromas of rose petals, raspberries, smoke, mulling spices and earth. Medium-to-full-bodied, freshly acidic and with nicely integrated alcohol, it serves up flavors in line with the nose and has excellent mid-palate density. Finishing long but with substantial tannic grip, this is one for the cellar. Give it at least another five years. Drink 2022-2035.
Red
2009 Louis Jadot Clos Vougeot France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru
95 points
Now with some bottle age, this Grand Cru is starting to strut its stuff. Medium ruby/red in color, it offers a complex bouquet of cherries, lavender, pickling spice, walnuts and leather. Medium-to-full-bodied, freshly acidic, seamlessly alcoholic and with silky tannins, it delivers flavors mirroring the nose. Plump and layered on the middle palate and finishing very long, this is a sexy Pinot that should provide many more years of enjoyment. Drink now-2030.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 16 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR MORNING PROGRAM: WINE STAR #2; MÉLISSA BOUYGUES) (1 note)

Purchased by Martin and Olivier Bouygues in 2006, Château Montrose has undergone a historic renovation and is in the process of redefining itself as being in a class among the elite. For this session, Mélissa Bouygues, Chairwoman of Château Montrose, was scheduled to speak. Unfortunately, she could not appear due to a death in her family. Her substitute was Château Montrose’s CEO, Hervé Berland. Berland is more than adept at speaking. His personal story is quite interesting. After more than 30 years as senior manager at Château Mouton-Rothschild, he left in 2012 to fill the shoes of Jean-Bernard Delmas (who managed Montrose from 2006 to 2011). This clearly shows his personal commitment and belief that Montrose is an estate second to none.



Château Montrose is somewhat unusual in that its vineyard is a single (unfragmented) block. The selection process for the grand vin is rigorous, and it shows. We were served Montrose’s 2010 iteration, which is nothing short of spectacular.

Red
2010 Château Montrose France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
99 points
An opaque crimson blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, this vintage of Montrose approaches perfection. Packed with black currants, fig, licorice, graphite and bittersweet chocolate, it is a full-bodied bruiser with fresh acidity, nicely integrated alcohol and equally well-integrated oak. The wine's tannins still carry substantial grip throughout the layered mid-palate and lengthy finish. This will undoubtedly become a "legendary" Montrose, but will require considerable cellar time. Drink 2030-2060.
2 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 17 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR MORNING PROGRAM: TOP 10 WINES OF 2016; PART 1) (3 notes)

Introduced by Wine Spectator Napa Bureau Chief Kim Marcus were Don Hartford (Hartford Family), Florence Cathiard (Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte) and Piero Antinori (Antinori). Prior to turning over the stage, he reminded participants of the criteria used by the Wine Spectator editors for ranking wines in their top 100: quality, price, availability and “x-factor.”



The first to speak was Don Hartford, whose Hartford Family Zinfandel Russian River Valley Old Vine 2014 was the #10 wine of the year. He pointed out that, unlike most Zinfandel producers, his Zins are made using Pinot Noir vinification techniques (small bins, cold soaks, hand punch-downs, etc.). Hartford’s Zinfandel vineyard sources are 80-100 years old, which, in conjunction with his vinification techniques, allows for creation of concentrated yet elegant wines.



Next up was Florence Cathiard, whose Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte Blanc 2013 was the #9 wine of the year. She explained the Château’s longstanding practice of using a relatively high percentage of Sauvignon Blanc in the final blend. She additionally discussed the advantages of their organic winegrowing techniques and their in-house barrel production facility as it relates to what ends up in the bottle. It is hard to argue that their methods are not effective, as the wine is ethereal.



The third and final speaker in this session was Piero Antinori, who really needs no introduction. He discussed the history of Tignanello and its dedicated vineyard which is situated at the perfect elevation to create a microclimate of warm days (encouraging fruit development) and cool nights (preserving acidity). He then went on to describe specifics about the 2013 vintage and why it created such a memorable version of the wine.

Red
2014 Hartford / Hartford Court Zinfandel Russian River Valley USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
92 points
This opaque crimson, old-vine Zinfandel includes a 1% dollop of Alicante Bouschet. Ripe but with excellent acidity, it has a core of dark bramble fruits, licorice, black pepper and pipe tobacco. Full-bodied and hiding its alcohol well, it stays solid in the middle and complements the fruit nicely with the appropriate amount of oak. The tannins are silky and the finish is long. Very well crafted, this is one to be enjoyed over the next five years. Drink now-2022.
White
2013 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
97 points
Light yellow in color but not light with respect to intensity, this blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon and 5% Sauvignon Gris offers a bouquet of white flowers, Meyer lemon, coconut, stone fruits and vanilla. Medium-bodied, vibrantly acidic, seamlessly alcoholic and with flavors mirroring the nose, it delivers richness but does not relinquish its excellent tension. Aging in 50% new oak gives the wine dimension but does not overpower the fruit or floral elements. Beautifully dense on the mid-palate, it goes on to finish with impressive length. This has the fruit and structure to show well for at least another decade. Drink now-2027.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2013 Antinori Tignanello Toscana IGT Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
93 points
The 2013 iteration of Antinori's Tignanello is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Deep ruby in color, it delivers aromas and flavors of black cherries, tobacco, baking spices, graphite and bay leaf. Full-bodied, freshly acidic and with substantial fine-grained tannins, it weaves in a complementary note of oak and shows no alcoholic heat. Dense in the middle and lengthy on the back end, this is a quality offering that will require some patience. Drink 2023-2040.
7 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 18 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR MORNING PROGRAM: 1977 VINTAGE PORT) (4 notes)

Introduced by James Molesworth, Wine Spectator Senior Editor, were Adrian Bridge (Taylor Fladgate) and Rupert Symington (Symington Family).







Both gave interesting accounts of the ’77 vintage for their respective properties. The wines were amazing, with one exception. Our table’s ’77 Taylor somehow slipped through the otherwise rigorous screening of the professional sommeliers. Not only was it undrinkable because of its sediment, it was also badly corked. We alerted our server to the problem but they were unable to return with a replacement bottle. As such, the discussion of ’77 Taylor was pretty moot. This is the first time that we have experienced such a boo-boo at the event, and we were, accordingly, inclined to be forgiving. This was also the sentiment of the others at our table, recognizing that everyone makes mistakes.

Red - Fortified
1977 Graham Porto Vintage Portugal, Douro, Porto
93 points
Tasted from a bottle ex-château, this medium garnet/amber, 40-year-old vintage port offers intense aromas and flavors of walnuts, red plums, garrigue and dark chocolate. Full-bodied, medium sweet and with impressive depth in the middle, it proceeds to a very long finish. This has at least two more decades of life. Drink now-2037.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red - Fortified
1977 Taylor (Fladgate) Porto Vintage Portugal, Douro, Porto
flawed
This wine was not only improperly decanted by our sommelier (leaving unacceptable amounts of sediment), but it was also overtly corked.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red - Fortified
1977 Dow Porto Vintage Portugal, Douro, Porto
96 points
From an "ex-château" bottle provided by Rupert Symington, this medium amber elixer is firing on all cylinders. Red cherries, stewed plums, walnuts, dark chocolate and Provençal herbs jump from the glass, followed by similar flavors on a full-bodied, silky-textured, sweet palate. There is a beautiful fruit/alcohol/sweetness balance here that is hard to resist. The solid middle palate leads to a lengthy finish that has a floral twist. This Port begs to be enjoyed at home, sitting by the holiday fireplace. Drink now-2045.
4 people found this helpful Comment
Red - Fortified
1977 Fonseca Porto Vintage Portugal, Douro, Porto
97 points
Sourced Taylor Fladgate's cellar, this light-to-medium amber specimen is something very special. It has an impressive core of black plums, mulling spices, pine nuts, leather and dark chocolate that resides in an unctuous, silky smooth frame. The middle palate is impressively dense and the finish seems to last forever. Savor this gem over the next 2-3 decades if you are able to avoid the Grim Reaper. Drink now-2045.
4 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 19 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR LUNCHEON: WINES OF AUSTRALIA) (8 notes)

Those who have attended previous Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience events will agree that the sponsored luncheons are a much anticipated treat. This year, the Friday sponsor was Wine Australia. This trade group arranged a menu to match their wines, and they were spot-on. The food was delicious and the wines were impressive. These luncheons typically involve sitting with other attendees whom you have never met, which makes it even more fun. We have established great relationships while eating lunch and sipping wine in between the Wine Spectator’s morning and afternoon programs.





The first course was a delicious collection of autumn greens, with pears, crushed roasted hazelnuts and aged balsamic vinegar.



For our main course, we were served roasted chicken breast with a truffle butter crust. Alongside on the plate were a parsnip purée, honey-glazed carrots, turnips and a chicken demi-glace.



Dessert was a decadent Lamington sponge cake with coconut cream. What I learned is that Lamington sponge cake is named after Charles Wallace Baillie, Lord Lamington, the governor of Queensland from 1895 to 1901. Lord Lamington was known for wearing a homburg hat that looked like the cakes. For many years “Lamingtons” were served on state ceremonial occasions in Queensland. They are made from squares of sponge cake coated in an outer layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut. This was a gorgeous and delicious Aussie treat!



After the fantastic meal, I was able to chat briefly with Sarah Marquis, owner and winemaker at Mollydooker. I found her to be an affable, down-to-earth lady with a good sense of humor.

White
2015 Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Prelude Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
91 points
Leewin's Prelude offerings are made from fruit producing the most readily expressive wines, with the objective that they will drink well soon after release. The 2015 version of Prelude Chardonnay is pale yellow at this point, with aromas of peach blossom, pear, and citrus peel. Light-to-medium-bodied, fresh and with seamless alcohol (listed as 14.0% but actually 14.3%), it has excellent mid-palate density and closes with good length. It is hard to believe that this is essentially Leeuwin's "second" wine. Very impressive! Enjoy it over the next 4-5 years. Drink now-2022.
White
2016 Mollydooker Verdelho The Violinist Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
84 points
Pale yellow and with nice aromas of white flowers, citrus and spice, this light-bodied white delivers fresh flavors but cannot shake its hot alcohol, even when served chilled. It's a shame, because the wine is otherwise vibrant, solid on the mid-palate and finishes with medium length. Drink now-2019.
White
2015 Torbreck Woodcutter's Semillon Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
88 points
Partially barrel fermented in neutral oak, this straw-colored wine (100% Sémillon) delivers fresh lemon, white peach, flint and chervil in a light-bodied, seamlessly alcoholic frame. There is a wisp of oak on the mid-palate that leads to a medium-length, crisp finish. Enjoy this refreshing white with light fare or on its own. Drink now-2019.
White
2016 Yalumba Viognier Eden Valley Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
89 points
The majority (65%) of this pale yellow wine was fermented and aged for 10 months in used oak barrels and puncheons. Highly perfumed, it offers aromas of white flowers, citrus, ginger and peach. Light-bodied, vibrant and without heat from its 13.0% alcohol, it delivers flavors mirroring the nose, stays solid in the middle and finishes with medium length. Enjoy this well-crafted wine over the next 4-5 years. Drink now-2022.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 First Drop Shiraz Mother's Milk Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
88 points
Ripe red and black bramble fruits characterize this deep ruby, syrupy wine. Adding notes of smoked meat and baking spices, it delivers its package in a medium-to-full-bodied frame with good acidity and medium sweet tannins. The alcohol (14.5%) is nicely integrated, as is the wine's oak component. Solid in the middle and medium in length on the back end, this is a delicious red, especially for the price. Drink now-2025.
Red
2015 Hentley Farm The Stray Mongrel Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
89 points
This medium ruby wine is a blend of 55% Grenache, 38% Shiraz and 7% Zinfandel. Effusive of smoky black cherries, dark plums, savory herbs and pickling spice on the nose and palate, it is a fresh, full-bodied offering with nicely integrated oak and good mid-palate presence. The finish is medium in length but concludes with a whiff of heat from its reported 14.7% alcohol (despite being served at the appropriate temperature). Notwithstanding the noticeable alcohol, this is a luscious wine that will have many fans by virtue of its ripe fruit. Drink now-2025.
Red
2014 Hickinbotham Merlot The Revivalist Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
92 points
Rich in black and red bramble fruits, this deep ruby (100% Merlot) wine adds notes of loamy earth, baking spices and savory herbs. Full-bodied, freshly acidic, appropriately oaked and with nicely integrated alcohol (14.5%), it wraps its flavors with generous sweet tannins, stays solid in the middle and finishes with impressive length. This is a quality, structured red that will benefit from additional cellaring. Drink 2019-2030.
Red
2016 Two Hands Shiraz Angels Share Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
90 points
This opaque crimson wine is packed with black and blue fruits, accented by notes of rosemary, black pepper and dark chocolate. Full-bodied, fresh and seamlessly alcoholic (listed as 14.1% but actually 14.0%), it frames its ripe fruit with ample sweet tannins and nicely integrated oak. Dense in the middle and finishing medium-long, this is a very well-crafted Shiraz that should be at its best over the next 6-7 years. Drink now-2024.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 20 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR AFTERNOON PROGRAM: 2017 VIDEO CONTEST WINNER) (0 notes)

Vineyards and High Heels, submitted by Monica Tibaldi from Pogapaglia, Piedmont was the Wine Spectator 2017 Video Contest winner. This is a highly entertaining video, showing the “glamorous” life of a vigneron’s daughters (Monica and Daniela) who are carrying the family torch for the next generation. Monica’s brief speech and the video were enthusiastically received by the audience.

Flight 21 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR AFTERNOON PROGRAM: WINE STAR #3; VICTOR URRUTIA) (1 note)

Entering to the Runaways’ old hit Cherry Bomb was C.V.N.E. CEO Victor Urrutia, who gave an enthusiastic talk about the quality coming out of Rioja and Spain in general. He stated that, in his opinion, the top wines from Spain are on a par with the top wines from anywhere in the world. Pointing out that C.V.N.E. only makes their Imperial Gran Reserva in vintages deemed worthy, he proceeded to describe his impressions of the ’76 iteration (as tasters came to their own conclusions). Unfortunately, this was another case where our table was poured wine from an improperly decanted bottle.

Red
1976 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
flawed
It would be unfair for me to judge this wine, as my sample was heavily laden with bitter sediment.

Flight 22 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR AFTERNOON PROGRAM: TOP 10 WINES OF 2016; PART 2) (3 notes)

Introduced by Kim Marcus were Paul Draper (Ridge), Dave Phinney (Orin Swift) and Aldo Vacca (Produttori del Barbaresco).



Each speaker gave brief talks about their careers, as well as information about the wines being presented. Most interesting were Paul Draper’s comments about how the baton has essentially been fully passed to Ridge’s current head winemaker, Eric Baugher. Also engaging was Dave Phinney’s account of his own journey in the wine business, starting out a seasonal harvest worker where he was the only Caucasian person on the crew, subsequently working his way up the “food chain.” Phinney humbly made it clear that he has not forgotten his roots.

All three of the wines presented were of outstanding quality: Ridge Monte Bello 2012 (wine #7), Orin Swift Machete 2014 (wine #6) and Produttori del Barbaresco Asili Riserva 2011 (wine #5).

Red
2012 Ridge Monte Bello USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
95 points
This opaque crimson wine is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot. Intensely aromatic, it flaunts a bouquet of black currants, blueberries, black olives, lavender, licorice and cedar. Full-bodied, freshly acidic, seamlessly alcoholic (13.8%) and with big chewy tannins, it delivers flavors mirroring the nose and is impressively dense on the mid-palate. Finishing long but with significant tannic grip, this is a classic-quality Bordeaux-style blend that will require substantial cellar time. Drink 2025-2045.
9 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Orin Swift Machete USA, California
92 points
An unspecified blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Grenache aged for 10 months in French oak (40% new), this opaque crimson bruiser weighs in at a lofty 15.7% on the alcohol scale. Despite this, all of the elements here are amazingly harmonious. Ripe black and blue fruits are accented with baking spices, bittersweet chocolate and vanilla bean. Fresh, rich and layered in the middle, it has mouth-coating tannins that carry some grip throughout the lengthy back end. Give this a bit of cellaring for maximal enjoyment. Drink 2020-2030.
4 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Asili Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
93 points
It is easy to be duped into thinking that this Nebbiolo will be a lightweight, based upon its medium red/garnet color. However, once one delves into the aromas and flavors of this gem, it becomes clear that there is more than meets the eye. Intensely aromatic and flavorful, it serves up a smörgåsbord of red currants, plums, pipe tobacco, violets, cocoa and savory herbs. Medium-to-full-bodied, freshly acidic and with nicely integrated alcohol, it is layered on the mid-palate and closes with a long, tannic finish. This is stellar material, but will require some patience. It may merit a higher score in the future. Drink 2020-2040.
4 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 23 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR AFTERNOON PROGRAM: WINE STAR #4; STEPHEN HENSCHKE) (1 note)

Introduced by Wine Spectator Editor-at-Large Harvey Steiman was wine legend Stephen Henschke. Steiman’s admiration for Henschke was undeniably sincere when giving brief commentary about the fifth-generation winemaker’s numerous achievements. He pointed out that Hill of Grace retails for $817 and only a tiny amount is exported to the U.S., yet Henschke was willing to provide six cases for the event’s participants.



Although Henschke seemed to be reading most of his speech, it was quite interesting to hear what he was saying. He described the location and characteristics of the Hill of Grace vineyard, noting that a substantial proportion of the vines are 150+ years old. He also talked about the estate’s biodynamic farming practices and use of modern glass or twist-off closures in order to eliminate the issue of cork taint. All-in-all, it was a pleasure to hear him speak and a distinct honor to be provided with so much of his scarce wine.





Red
2012 Henschke Shiraz Hill of Grace Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
97 points
There is no denying the impressive quality of Hill of Grace. The 2012 iteration is a deep ruby, highly perfumed wine effusive of lavender, blackberries, blueberries, graphite, exotic spices and tobacco. Full-bodied, vibrant and with nicely integrated alcohol, it weaves in an appropriate amount of oak and has big silky tannins. The middle palate is dense and the finish seems to last forever. This is undeniably classic in quality. It will require a few more years in the cellar to full strut its stuff, then should last for 2-3 decades. Drink 2022-2050.

Flight 24 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR AFTERNOON PROGRAM: GAJA BARBARESCO) (4 notes)

God threw away the mold after he made Angelo Gaja. There is arguably no nicer nor more humble wine superstar than this man. Introduced by Bruce Sanderson were Angelo and his daughter, Gaia. Both engaged the audience, spoke about the family lineage and Gaja’s commitment to producing the highest quality wines, strictly reflective of the special terroir of each vineyard. Gaia discussed the common belief that Barolo is masculine and Barbaresco feminine. She agreed with that belief, but only with the caveat that Barolo is a ”gentleman” while Barbaresco is a ”tough lady”.

Although Angelo is still quite active in the business, Gaia’s presence provided a sense of comfort about where this winery is headed. It is very clear that Gaja will be in good hands with the next generation.

Red
2014 Gaja Barbaresco Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
92 points
Medium garnet in color, this young Nebbiolo has an intoxicating nose of red and black fruit. Supported by notes of tobacco, fennel and lavender, it is a fresh, medium-to-full-bodied wine with medium grippy tannins, nicely integrated oak and seamless alcohol. The flavors mirror the nose, the middle palate has good density and the finish is very long. Give this a few years in the cellar. Drink 2022-2034.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Gaja Barbaresco Costa Russi Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
93 points
This medium red/garnet wine offers a core of red currants, dark plums, tobacco, leather, pine nuts and spice. Full-bodied, fresh and without alcoholic heat, it is a silky textured Nebbiolo that has good mid-palate density and tannins that do not sneak up until the lengthy finish. This outstanding Barbaresco will require some time in the cellar to round out its rough edges. It may merit a higher score in the future. Drink 2024-2034.
Red
2014 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
95 points
Earthy red cherries, savory herbs, tobacco, leather and baking spices jump from the glass of this medium garnet wine. Full-bodied, freshly acidic, seamlessly alcoholic and with flavors mirroring the nose, it has substantial tannins that will require time to settle down. However, there is no denying the potential of this Nebbiolo, as its flavors persist so nicely throughout the middle palate and long finish. Drink 2024-2040.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
94 points
This medium garnet wine serves up aromas and flavors of red fruits, pickling spice, dried herbs, lavender and loamy earth. Full-bodied, fresh and with nicely integrated alcohol, it weaves in a soft component of oak on the solid mid-palate. While long, the finish flexes some tannic grip. Cellaring is in order here. Drink 2024-2040.

Flight 25 - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR CRITICS’ CHOICE GRAND TASTING #2) (35 notes)

For the second Grand Tasting, we largely confined ourselves to the sixth floor (although we did make a late transition to the fifth in order to taste some wines that we had missed on the previous night). The sixth floor has a slightly more spacious ballroom that includes a large stage. Unlike the fifth floor, there is room inside (on the stage) for the large spread of food available for participants. As was the case for the previous night, we methodically tasted numerous wines and had the pleasure of speaking with many winemakers and winery owners.







Christian Moueix (Pétrus, La Fleur-Pétrus, Trotanoy, Dominus, etc.)



Pablo Álvarez (Vega Sicilia)



Victor Urrutia (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España)

Red
2005 Château Mouton Rothschild France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
98 points
Last tasted almost exactly two years ago, this ruby/red blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc remains packed with dark plums, violets, iron, orange zest and tobacco on both the nose and palate. Full-bodied, freshly acidic, seamlessly alcoholic and impressively concentrated, this retains its plentiful sweet tannins, solid middle palate and long finish. Based upon the fact that this wine has not budged during the past couple of years, I suspect that it is going to require more cellar time than originally anticipated. Drink 2025-2050.
Red
2006 Château Margaux France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
93 points
The '06 Margaux is a deep ruby blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Although it flaunts a highly perfumed nose of violets and white flowers (backed up by black currants, graphite and spice), its olfactory attractiveness is not matched by its astringently tannic palate. Although the wine's fresh acidity, seamless alcohol and nicely integrated oak set it up for success, there is no denying the coarseness of the tannins that are pervasive on the middle palate and throughout the lengthy finish. My rating for this wine is based upon the assumption that the nastiness of the tannins will dissipate after some time in the cellar. Drink 2022-2040.
Red
2009 Château Montrose France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
98 points
An opaque ruby blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, the '09 Montrose is intoxicating from the first sip. Intensely aromatic and equally intense on the palate, it serves up an array of black currants, dark bramble fruits, kirsch, white flowers, lavender and licorice. Full-bodied, fresh, seamlessly alcoholic and with big sweet tannins, it is layered and concentrated on the mid-palate and finishes very long. This is a Montrose with immense sex appeal. That said, it will require some cellar time to fully strut its immense attributes. Drink 2022-2050.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
93 points
This opaque ruby blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot offers aromas and flavors of black and blue fruit, accented with licorice, cedar and pencil shavings. Full-bodied, freshly acidic and with nicely integrated alcohol, it wraps its flavors with substantial fine-grained tannins. Dense in the middle and finishing with good length, this is an outstanding young Pauillac that will require some time to fully impress. Drink 2024-2045.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Château Pape Clément France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
93 points
This deep-to-opaque ruby wine is a blend of 57.5% Merlot, 37.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot, matured in 60% new French oak. With a core of dark bramble fruits, blueberries and cassis, it adds notes of pipe tobacco, espresso and toasty oak. Medium-to-full-bodied, fresh, seamlessly alcoholic and with plentiful polished tannins, it is surprisingly round in texture for such a young Bordeaux. Beautifully dense on the middle palate and finishing medium-to-long, this should progress to something special with a bit of cellaring. Drink 2022-2040.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Château Lynch-Bages France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
94 points
The 2014 version of Lynch-Bages is an opaque crimson blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Offering aromas and flavors of black currants, kirsch, melted licorice, graphite, tobacco and espresso, it is a full-bodied offering with mouth-puckering tannins. Freshly acidic and with nicely integrated alcohol, it has good mid-palate presence and closes with a lengthy finish that flashes some toasted oak. This has the makings of an outstanding wine but will require significant patience. Drink 2024-2050.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Château Léoville Barton France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
flawed
Sadly, the bottle from which my sample was poured was clearly corked. Since the bottle was nearly empty, I thought that I would spare any embarrassment to the server and instead simply return later to taste from a different bottle. Unfortunately, I never made it back to the serving table to re-taste.
Red
2009 Château La Fleur-Pétrus France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
97 points
Feminine in character and sexy from the get-go, this deep ruby, Merlot-dominated wine delivers everything that the grape can offer. Ripe red and black bramble fruits, plums, graphite, truffles, anise and lavender are supported by fresh acidity, seamless alcohol, nicely woven oak and plentiful silky-textured tannins. The silkiness persists throughout the dense middle palate and long finish. Herein lies something memorable! Drink 2020-2040.
Red
2009 Château Canon-la-Gaffelière France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
97 points
This deep ruby wine is a blend of 50% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. By virtue of its low acidity and plentiful velvety tannins, it is hard to resist. Full-bodied, round, seamlessly alcoholic (14%) and packed with black currants, lavender, fig, licorice and savory herbs, it has excellent mid-palate density and finishes very long. I can't help but feel that this is going to get even better, although it is delicious now. Drink 2020-2040.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2007 Ridge Monte Bello USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
96 points
The '07 iteration of Monte Bello is yet another home run for Ridge. A deep ruby blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, it delivers dark bramble fruits, exotic spices, tobacco, minerals and bay leaf in a full-bodied, freshly acidic frame. The tannins are substantial but, like the wine's alcohol and oak, are nicely integrated. Dense on the mid-palate and finishing long, this is a structured, classic-quality offering. Believe it or not, this needs additional time in the cellar in order to fully strut its stuff. Drink 2022-2040.
4 people found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
2012 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 40th Anniversary Red Rock Terrace USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain
94 points
True to the Diamond Creek style, this version of Red Rock Terrace is built for the long haul. To be sure, there is no paucity of sexy black cherry, blackberry and blueberry fruit, but there is likewise no paucity of rugged tannins. The fruit aromas and flavors add notes of violets, graphite, lavender and tobacco that persevere on the mid-palate and lengthy finish. Fresh acidity, seamless alcohol (14.1%) and restrained oak, in combination with the fruit and tannins, make this a perfect candidate for long-term cellaring. Give it at least another decade if you can. Drink 2027-2050.
Red
1994 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23 USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
95 points
Sampled from magnum, this deep garnet wine (98.4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.4% Merlot and 0.2% Petit Verdot) flaunts gorgeous aromas of red cherries, plums, leather, hazelnuts, cocoa and cigar box. Full-bodied, medium in acidity, seamlessly alcoholic and with silky residual tannins, it has impressive mid-palate density and finishes very long. This 23-year-old wine is a good example of what Napa Cabernet is capable of when properly crafted and properly cellared. This should show well for many more years. Drink now-2030.
Red
2013 Revana Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
95 points
Those who enjoy hedonistic Napa Cabernet will love this opaque crimson beauty. Massively extracted, it delivers a payload of crème de cassis, black cherries, blueberries, licorice, black olives and baking spices. Low-to-medium in acidity, seamlessly alcoholic (14.7%) and with abundant fine-grained tannins, it is mouth-coating on the mid-palate and closes with a lengthy finish that flashes some toasty oak. This flirts with being over-the-top, but a flirt is not the same as a date. There is no raisiny/pruney character to this wine and I fully expect that it will be exceptional once the oak and tannins fully integrate. Drink 2020-2035.
Red
2013 Ovid Red Wine USA, California, Napa Valley
97 points
There are no rough edges on this gorgeous Napa Valley creation. An opaque crimson blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Cabernet Franc, it is nothing short of rich, intense and intoxicating. Ripe black, red and blue fruits are supplemented with notes of lavender, hazelnuts, licorice, bittersweet chocolate and espresso. This fat wine is simply a joy to drink, with seamless alcohol (listed as 14.8%) and beautifully integrated oak. Lusciously dense on the mid-palate, it moves on to a decadent, fruit-laden finish that seems to last forever. No one should be faulted for opening a bottle now, but a bit of cellar time will make this even better. Drink 2022-2040.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2008 Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri, Bolgheri Superiore
93 points
The '08 version of Ornellaia is an opaque ruby blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, aged for 20 months in French oak (70% new). On the nose, it offers aromas of black currants, dark plums, espresso, hazelnuts and tobacco. Full-bodied, fresh and with nicely integrated alcohol, it delivers flavors mirroring the nose in a milieu of grippy tannins and creamy oak. The middle palate and finish are impressive, but there is still some grip on the back end that will require time to dissipate. This is also the case for the wine's oak. Patience will be rewarded here. Drink 2021-2035.
Red
2010 Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Masseto Toscana IGT Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
99 points
This deep ruby wine pushes the limit of what is achievable with the Merlot grape. Gorgeously perfumed with violets, jasmine and lavender, it has a solid red and black fruit core. Accented with aromas and flavors of baking spices, savory herbs and tobacco, it is a fresh, full-bodied wine with seamless alcohol, well-integrated oak and plentiful silky tannins. Dense on the mid-palate, it goes on to finish long, albeit flexing some tannic grip at the very end. A bit more time in the cellar may vault this one into the "perfection" category. Drink 2020-2040.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2012 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
92 points
Dusty red cherries, red currants, licorice, earth and pickling spice adorn the nose and palate of this medium ruby, medium-bodied wine. Fresh, seamlessly alcoholic and with plentiful silky tannins, it delivers a solid impression on the mid-palate and finishes medium-to-long. This won't require too much more cellaring, but should benefit from a couple more years of hibernation. Drink 2020-2032.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2012 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
91 points
This medium-to-deep ruby wine offers a core of ripe red cherry fruit, accented by lavender, tobacco, allspice and walnuts. Medium-to-full-bodied, fresh and with medium fine-grained tannins, it throws no significant heat from its 14.5% alcohol when served at 60-65°F. There is still some integration of oak that will need to occur, but this wine's dense middle palate and medium-to-long finish suggest that the potential for improvement is there. Drink 2020-2035.
Red
2013 Bodegas y Viñedos Alión Ribera del Duero Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero
92 points
This iteration of Alion is a true success from a difficult vintage. Comprised of 100% Tempranillo aged for 14 months in new French oak, it delivers aromas and flavors of crème de cassis, espresso, licorice and loamy earth. Medium-bodied, fresh, seamlessly alcoholic (13.5%) and with medium fine-grained tannins, it has nicely integrated oak and good mid-palate density. The finish is medium-to-long and quite supple for such a young wine. Drink now-2030.
Red
2005 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero
96 points
Vega Sicilia releases Único only when they feel it is ready. As such, the '05 vintage is the most recent release, despite the fact that '07 and '08 had already been released. This version is approximately 94% Tempranillo and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for almost six years in a combination of French and American oak barrels of varying ages. With an intense nose of lavender, Bing cherries, red currants, eucalyptus, Asian spices and savory herbs, it is a fresh, full-bodied wine with seamless alcohol (listed as 14%) and nicely integrated oak. The tannins are plentiful but polished. Flavors mirroring the nose carry through to a dense middle palate and lengthy finish. This is equisite, albeit expensive juice. Those lucky enough to own it will be very happy all the way through the next decade (and then some). Drink now-2035.
Red
2009 Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT Italy, Tuscany, Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT
92 points
This deep ruby, masculine Sangiovese delivers a package of black cherries, currants, pickling spice, loamy earth and black pepper. Full-bodied, freshly acidic and without any heat from its 14.5% alcohol, it wraps its flavors with plentiful fine-grained tannins. The middle palate is solid and the finish is lengthy, albeit a bit astringent. Give this some cellar time. Drink 2020-2035.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red - Fortified
1941 Kopke Porto Colheita Portugal, Douro, Porto
92 points
Light amber in color, this 76-year-old Port offers aromas and flavors of dried fruits, walnuts, cocoa, allspice and garrigue. Unctous, sweet and without alcoholic heat, this is gorgeous in its fully mature state, as the tannins have resolved and there are no rough edges. This will likely last until its 100th birthday! Drink now-2041.
White
2014 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot Réserve de l'Obédience France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru
95 points
Heavily perfumed with honeysuckle and lavender, this straw-colored Chablis adds beautiful notes of citrus, green apples, chervil and wet stones. Freshly acidic and seamlessly alcoholic, it is currently medium-bodied but will undoubtedly pick up weight with age. There is impressive density and length here, but this will need time in the cellar to reach its full potential. Drink 2024-2035.
White
2013 Domaine Jean Chartron Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Pucelle France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru
92 points
Sleek and mineral-infused, this pale yellow Chardonnay serves up an aroma and flavor profile of pears, white peaches, orange zest and wet stones. Light-to-medium-bodied, crisply acidic and without alcoholic heat, it has good mid-palate density and great persistence on the finish. This is elegance in a glass. Drink 2019-2027.
White
2013 Marquis de Laguiche (Joseph Drouhin) Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru
93 points
This straw-colored wine has weight and flesh, with a core of pit fruits, pears, baked apples, allspice and wet stones. Medium-bodied, fresh and seamlessly alcoholic, it leaves a tactile impression on the middle palate and finishes with excellent persistence. This is close to being ready for prime time. Drink 2019-2027.
White
2014 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
94 points
There is plenty of substance to this straw-colored, medium-bodied Chardonnay. White peaches, clementines, crushed rocks, ginger and jasmine are elegantly presented in a fresh, seamlessly alcoholic frame. The oak here is complementary, not dominating, and adds weight to the mid-palate. Flashing some vanilla on the lengthy finish, this is one that will get even better with a little more time in the cellar. Drink 2020-2035.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White
2014 Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Art Series Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
96 points
An impeccably balanced Chardonnay, the '14 Leeuwin is something to behold. Although this pale yellow wine is still quite young, it already flaunts an intoxicating bouquet of ripe pit fruits, melon, orange zest, wet stones and allspice. Medium-bodied and with fresh acidity, it has beautifully integrated alcohol and equally well-integrated oak. Fleshy yet racy throughout the middle palate and lengthy finish, this one provides the New World fruit and the Old World structure (without any struggle between the two). What remains is something absolutely delicious! Drink 2019-2026.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 Roar Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
91 points
Wild berries, red bramble fruits, anise, violets and earth characterize this deep ruby Pinot. With fresh acidity, nicely integrated alcohol and just the right amount of supportive oak, this medium-bodied wine has good balance, a solid middle palate and a polished, medium-length finish. Newly-released, this will require some short-term cellaring to fully strut its stuff. Drink 2019-2025.
Red
2014 Ram's Gate Pinot Noir Bush Crispo Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
90 points
With ripe red fruit front and center, this medium ruby Pinot adds notes of white flowers, cocoa and cola. Medium-bodied, fresh and with seamless alcohol, it delivers its flavor payload wrapped with medium sweet tannins and a dollop of toasty oak. There is good persistence on the mid-palate and medium-length finish. This is already quite approachable and should show well over the next 7-8 years. Drink now-2025.
Red
2014 Donum Pinot Noir Reserve Russian River Valley USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
86 points
This deep ruby wine pushes the limits of ripeness, with black cherry, blackberry and dark plum fruit. Accented with pickling spice and savory herbs, it is a medium-bodied Pinot with hot alcohol, firm tannins and fairly well-integrated oak. The wine's acid borders on being acerbic, which is an enigma in light of the ripe fruit. The only explanation here is that it was given a heavy hand of acidification during its élevage. While the middle palate is solid and the finish medium-to-long, this feels very disjointed. I'm not sure that cellaring will be helpful, but I would definitely favor taking the chance. Drink 2020-2025.
White
2010 Weingut S.A. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Old Vines Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
92 points
This pale yellow, dry Riesling is highly perfumed, with strong notes of jasmine, rose petals and lavender. To be sure, there are nice components of white peach and honeydew, but the intense floral elements are the hallmark of this wine (making it suitable for dabbing behind one's ears). With fresh acidity and unnoticeable alcohol, this light-bodied white has great mid-palate presence and a lengthy, mineral-laden finish. This should provide immense pleasure over the next five years. Drink now-2022.
White
2008 Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile France, Alsace
91 points
Pale yellow and light-bodied, this bone dry white offers lime zest, green apple, kiwi, crushed rock and citronella aromas. Racy and seamlessly alcoholic, it delivers flavors mirroring the nose, adding notes of saline and spice. The middle palate is deceivingly fleshy and the wine's tart finish is quite long. Newly released, this impressive Riesling should have significant longevity. Drink now-2030.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Rosé - Sparkling
2010 Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Rosé France, Champagne
94 points
From a blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay, this pale salmon-colored rosé sports a brisk tiny bead, with vibrant strawberry, orange zest, marzipan and crushed rock aromas. Medium-bodied, crisp and very lively on the palate, it proceeds with flavors that mirror the nose. Solid in the middle and lively on the lengthy back end, this is nothing short of outstanding. While this taste was from magnum, I would anticipate that 750 cc bottles would provide comparable enjoyment. Drink now-2025.
4 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2005 Bollinger Champagne La Grande Année France, Champagne
91 points
Straw-colored and extremely active (and small) on the bubble front, the '05 iteration of Bollinger's standard vintage champagne has classic aromas and flavors of lemon zest, brioche, almonds and wet stones. Medium-bodied, vibrantly acidic and with a creamy tactile lingual sensation on the mid-palate, it progresses to a tart, lengthy finish. This is quite nice, albeit a bit austere. Drink now-2025.
3 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2007 Roederer Estate L'Ermitage Brut USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
93 points
While this sparkling wine does not emanate from Champagne, it is a huge success from French producers who have made a bottle of Champagne or two. Straw-colored, it flaunts a very active, tiny bead. Effusive of Meyer lemon, orange peel, hazelnuts, marzipan and toast points, it is a medium-bodied, crisply acidic sparkler with excellent verve on the mid-palate and good length on the finish. Riper than Champagne but with good structure, this delivers the best of France and California. Drink now-2027.
2 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 26 - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR MORNING PROGRAM: INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS AND WILDFIRE REPORT) (0 notes)

The Saturday morning program began with brief comments by Marvin Shanken, who explained his absence on the previous morning as a result of his commitment to the University of Miami. He then held up a Wine Spectator issue from 1981, noting that the tabloid-like issue was published the same year as the first Wine Experience event. He likewise noted that he had otherwise not missed a day of any Wine Experience event since the publication of that issue.



The introduction swiftly led to an impromptu session featuring James Laube (Wine Spectator Senior Editor), Randy Lewis (Lewis Cellars) and Barbara Banke (Jackson Family Wines), who spoke about the wildfires affecting the California North Coast.



It was pointed out that the greatest tragedy has been the loss of human life, as well as the loss of homes. James Laube, who lives in the Napa Valley, talked about his own frightening experience, wondering if his home would still be standing after he returned from being evacuated (it was). Fortunately, only a small number of winery structures were destroyed, the most notable being Signorello.



The large majority of grapes had been harvested before the fires began, but there were challenges for many wineries in terms of keeping fermentations cool (due to the loss of power, requiring portable generators and use of dry ice). Randy Lewis pointed out that grapes harvested after the fires began may or may not have some degree of smoke taint, which will only become evident when those wine lots have been fermented.

Barbara Banke noted that vineyards are “natural firebreaks,” so very few vineyards were destroyed. She said that active sprinkler systems of threatened vineyards were very helpful.

All three agreed that the most difficult problem for the California wine industry (and everyone else) moving forward will be the lack of housing. Where will winery employees live, and how will they be able to afford the rents (which are likely to skyrocket due to scarcity)? Banke did provide some good news when she said that FEMA is already in the process of planning construction of temporary modular homes for displaced residents (while their own homes are being rebuilt).

Flight 27 - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR MORNING PROGRAM: TOP 10 WINES OF 2016; PART 3) (3 notes)

Introduced by Harvey Steiman were Grace Evenstad (Domaine Serene), Mike Etzel (Beaux Frères) and Bérénice Lurton (Château Climens).



The first to speak was Grace Evenstad, whose Domaine Serene Chardonnay Evenstad Reserve 2014 was the #2 wine of 2016. She spoke of how they originally intended to make only Pinot Noir, but they changed their minds when they were able to purchase the Côte Sud vineyard in the late ‘90s. Since then, they have been committed to producing Chardonnay that combines the best of new world fruit and old world structure. Based upon their 2014 reserve Chardonnay, I would have to say that they have unequivocally succeeded in this pursuit!



The next to speak was Mike Etzel, whose Beaux Frères Pinot Noir Beaux Frères Vineyard 2014 was Wine Spectator’s #3 wine of 2016. He talked about the original purchase of his property, which was an old animal farm. With PowerPoint projections he showed photos of the original structure and how it has been transformed into a winery. He noted that they are currently replanting (in blocks) the Beaux Frères Vineyard, as its native rootstock is now infected with phylloxera. Etzel became quite emotional (with tears of joy) when speaking about how he is now working jointly with his son, Mike Etzel, Jr., whose is now the winemaker/viticulturist. The Beaux Frères Vineyard 2014 Pinot is outstanding, well worthy of its accolades.



Last to speak was Bérénice Lurton, whose Château Climens 2013 was 2016’s #4 wine. Attendees found Lurton to be engaging and very funny. She jokingly pointed out that Château Climens can be drunk with desserts, savory dishes, on its own or pretty much with anything, and that bottles keep well in the fridge after opening. Accordingly (she said tongue-in-cheek), you should buy one, two or three cases or more of any vintage. Her 2013 Climens is ethereal, so she may just be right!

White
2014 Domaine Serene Chardonnay Evenstad Reserve USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
95 points
This straw-colored wine offers impressive aromas of green apples, orange zest, wet stones, spice and pit fruits. Medium-bodied, freshly acidic, seamlessly alcoholic (14.7%) and with beautifully integrated oak, it delivers flavors mirroring the nose and stays dense on the middle palate. Notes of tropical fruit creep in on the lengthy finish. This structured Chardonnay will likely get even better with cellaring, but it is hard to resist at this point. Drink now-2024
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Beaux Frères Pinot Noir Beaux Frères Vineyard USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Ribbon Ridge
94 points
Black raspberry, blueberry, orange peel and mulling spice aromas characterize this medium ruby wine. Similar flavors reside in a fresh, medium-bodied frame with nicely integrated alcohol and fine-grained tannins. The oak is present but is by no means overwhelming. Dense on the mid-palate and finishing long, this is a quality Pinot quite deserving of its accolades. It is already showing nicely and should provide pleasure for several more years. Drink now-2025.
2 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sweet/Dessert
2013 Château Climens France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Barsac
98 points
This medium golden elixer is nothing short of intoxicating. Intensely aromatic and flavorful, it serves up a mélange of peaches, apricots, pears, Mandarin oranges and almonds. Rich, viscous and with beautiful balancing acidity, it adds notes of tropical fruit and candied lemon on the lenghty back end. This one is hard to put down! It should evolve and last for decades. Drink now-2055.
3 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 28 - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR MORNING PROGRAM: WINE STAR #5; JOHN ALBAN) (1 note)

Introduced by Wine Spectator Senior Editor Tim Fish was John Alban, who took the stage adorned in a wildly colorful tuxedo. An undeniable legend, he spoke about his many years in the wine business, bringing cuttings from top Rhone Valley vineyards during the ‘80s and propagating them in his own nursery (ultimately supplying numerous Central Coast wineries). He essentially was the “Johnny Appleseed” of Rhone varietals planted in California.



Alban is a very funny man. He had the audience wrapped around his little finger, making subtle jokes about his sheep, etc. He pointed out that, unlike many Old World winemakers, he has never been constrained by archaic wine cultivation laws. As such, he has always been free to create his wines with one simple goal: make them taste good! Toward the end of his speech, in deadpan fashion, he stated that food and wine are vitally important to mankind. He then projected a photo of a Milky Way candy bar and pointed out that we even named our galaxy after a food product. This had the crowd laughing loudly.

In discussing his soon-to-be-released Alban Syrah Reva 2013, he noted that the wine’s ripe fruit and concentration give it a masculine character up front, but there is a certain degree of elegance that shines through. I found the wine to be absolutely delicious, classic in quality.

Upon completion of his speech, Alban acknowledged his mother, Reva, and father, Seymour, both of whom were in the audience. We later had the opportunity to chat with him and his parents, finding them to be delightful. When I commented about John’s tuxedo coat, he confided that it had been designed by Liberace’s former clothes designer!

Red
2013 Alban Vineyards Syrah Reva Alban Estate Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
95 points
Comprised of 100% Syrah, this opaque crimson wine is effusive of dark bramble fruits, smoked meat, bittersweet chocolate, black olives and baking spices. Full-bodied, fresh and seamlessly alcoholic, it is rich and concentrated yet not over-the-top. Despite being barrel aged for 44 months, it has beautifully integrated oak that does not dominate the fruit. Long and silky on the back end, this is a classic-quality offering that is already showing well. It should provide pleasure for many more years. Drink now-2030.
4 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 29 - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR MORNING PROGRAM: MATT KRAMER’S DISCUSSION OF “ELEGANZA”) (3 notes)

Those who have previously attended Wine Spectator events always look forward to Matt Kramer. Not only is he a tremendous speaker, but his topics are unfailingly interesting and the wines being poured offer some type of revelation. This year was no exception. The gist of his talk was that anything of elegance must have restraint. He used a clothing metaphor: Dolce & Gabbana no, Armani yes. Kramer then proceeded to describe the three wines in front of us, which included Graci Etna Barbabecchi 2013, Il Marroneto Brunello 2011 and Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Ghemme Collis Breclemae 2010. Being served from southermost to northernmost in vineyard location, evidence was given for why each wine is elegant by virtue of its restraint.



Unfortunately, Kramer’s talk was cut short due to time constraints. He did not speak very long, and I suspect that he was cut off because the program was running behind schedule. In my opinion, Matt Kramer should never be hurried or cut off. Hopefully, at future Wine Spectator events, his speaking slot will be allotted more time or will be scheduled at a point in the program where he will not be required to rush. This was also the feeling of numerous other attendees.

Red
2013 Graci Etna Barbabecchi Quota 1000 Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC
95 points
Quota 1000 is produced from 100% Nerello Mascales, a grape indiginous to the Etna. From the Arcurìa vineyard, situated more than 1,000 meters above sea level, it it is a light-to-medium garnet wine which offers intense aromas and flavors of red plums, lavender, rose petals, earth and light spice. Medium-bodied, fresh, seamlessly alcoholic and with soft tannins, it is silky-textured, seductive and layered. Finishing with impressive length, this is a native Sicilian wine that drinks like fine Burgundy. Elegant and feminine, it should remain a hedonistic treat for several more years. Drink now-2025.
Red
2011 Il Marroneto Brunello di Montalcino Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
93 points
This medium garnet wine is profoundly floral, with aromas of rose petals and white flowers front and center. A beautiful core of red fruit is pervasive, accented with notes of black tea and pickling spice. Medium-bodied, freshly acidic and with nicely integrated alcohol, it is solid in the middle, has velvety tannins and just the right amount of oak. The finish is lengthy and silky smooth. This is elegance in a glass! Drink now-2030.
Red
2010 Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Ghemme Collis Breclemae Italy, Piedmont, Northern Piedmont, Ghemme
92 points
This single-vineyard, 100% Nebbiolo offering is medium-to-deep ruby in color. With an intense nose of dark plums, dried roses, tar, licorice and pine nuts, it is a full-bodied wine with good acidity, integrated alcohol and substantial fine-grained tannins. The flavors mirror the nose and the middle palate is dense. Finishing long and with a wisp of oak, this wine is already elegant but will become even more so with additonal cellaring. Drink 2020-2040.
2 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 30 - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR MORNING PROGRAM: CHEFS’ CHALLENGE) (8 notes)

Always a favorite, the chefs’ challenge this year did not disappoint. As in previous years, participants included restauranteur Danny Meyer, Chef Emeril Lagasse and Chef José Andrés. This year, Chef Mario Carbone (“The Grill,” New York City) was added to the mix as the new kid on the block.



During this session, they essentially play a game in front of the audience. Each of the four participants provides a dish for the attendees. For that dish, a different participant and Tom Matthews each pick a wine that they think would be the best match. The creator of the dish then decides which wine he thinks pairs best with his dish. The audience is also queried as to their opinion, and the “winning” wine is determined.

The dishes, clockwise from upper left, were roasted honeynut squash with ricotta, bacon and pickled peppers (created for Danny Meyer by Suzanne Cupps, executive chef at “Untitled at the Whitney”); tuna ravigote with sliced cucumber and soft boiled egg (Chef Carbone); pressed Louisiana Wagyu Reuben with fennel sauerkraut, apple hittisau and Cajun caviar (Chef Lagasse); foie gras “piña colada” comprised of foie gras custard with pineapple-rum gelatin, coconut cream, fresh pineapple and lime zest (Chef Andrés).



The banter amongst the chefs (and restauranteur) was hysterical. There was almost constant laughter from the audience. Chef Andrés had just returned to New York on a red eye from Puerto Rico, where he had been feverishly working feeding meals to those displaced by the hurricane. He had obviously consumed a bit too much coffee, as he was hyper and extremely funny. Mario Carbone, the “new kid” who will be featured on the cover of an upcoming Wine Spectator issue, was accused by the other participants as sucking up to Tom Matthews and Marvin Shanken, not desiring to disagree with the wine that Matthews had chosen for his dish. Carbone played this like a violin…his deadpan humor in the role of a sycophant was gut-busting funny!



All four dishes were delicious. Interestingly, this is the first year where all wines were white, which was unintentional. The pairings were all good.

For Danny’s roasted honeynut squash, he preferred Emeril’s Zind-Humbrecht to Tom’s Antinori Umbria. The Zind-Humbrecht was also the crowd’s favorite.

Mario’s tuna ravigote was my favorite dish. After taking my first bite, I knew that I had to visit his restaurant before the end of our stay in New York. He obsequiously (tongue-in-cheek) picked Tom’s Peter Michael Sauvignon Blanc as the the best match (over Danny’s Benanti Etna), which was also the consensus of the crowd.

Emeril felt that José’s Virginia Vermentino was a better match for his Wagyu than Tom’s Chapoutier Alsatian Riesling. The crowd agreed, but only after a theatrical re-count demand by José.

Lastly, José simply could not make up his mind between Mario’s Domaine Schlumberger Riesling and Tom’s Jorge Ordóñez Malaga Victoria when attempting to determine which was the better match for his foie gras “piña colada.” He then advised the crowd (who actually felt that Tom’s wine was the better match) to hold up both hands. With the audience obliging, he declared the contest a draw.

So much laughter, delicious food and good wines made this session something very special. We were subsequently able to briefly chat with these wine and food celebrities, excluding José, who had left fairly quickly (likely to go take a nap).

Danny Meyer



Mario Carbone



Emeril Lagasse

White
2012 Zind-Humbrecht Vin de Table Français Zind Z012 France, Vin de Table Français
88 points
This light-bodied, off-dry, pale yellow wine is a blend of 65% Chardonnay and 35% Auxerrois. With vibrant acidity, seamless alcohol (12.6%) and a core of stone fruits, citrus, spice and vanilla, it retains its verve throughout the middle palate and medium-length, saline-laden finish. This screams for food! Drink now-2019.
White
2014 Castello della Sala (Antinori) Umbria Cervaro della Sala Italy, Umbria
87 points
A light golden blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Grechetto, this white offers orange peel, peach, vanilla and honeysuckle on both the nose and palate. Medium-bodied, freshly acidic and without alcoholic heat, it adds tropical fruit notes on the mid-palate and finishes with medium length. This wine is more New World than Old World in character by virtue of its ripe fruit and substantial oak. Drink now-2020.
White
2013 Benanti Etna Bianco Superiore Pietramarina Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC
90 points
With saline notes that persist from beginning to end, this pale yellow wine (100% Carricante) adds aromas and flavors of Mandarin oranges, white flowers and wet stones. Light-bodied, fresh and without noticeable alcohol, it has good mid-palate density and finishes with medium length. Enjoy this crisp white with sashimi or similar light fare. Drink now-2022.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White
2013 Peter Michael Sauvignon Blanc L'Apres-Midi USA, California, Sonoma County, Knights Valley
84 points
This straw colored wine is a blend of 92% Sauvignon Blanc and 8% Sémillon, barrel fermented and aged in French oak for eight months sur lies. Serving up stone fruits, vanilla, citrus and honey on both the nose and palate, it is a ripe, medium-bodied white with low-to-medium acidity. Becoming dominated by oak and alcohol (15.4%) on the mid-palate and finishing with a strong whiff of alcoholic heat, this is not what I look for in a Sauvignon Blanc (although there are many who prefer this heavily manipulated style). Drink now-2018.
White
2015 Barboursville Vineyards Vermentino Reserve USA, Virginia, Central Virginia, Monticello
88 points
Crisp and refreshing, this pale yellow, light-bodied wine (100% Vermentino) sees no oak during its vinification but is aged on its lees for seven months. With a core of citrus, white peach and minerals, it has good mid-palate density and remains vibrant throughout the medium-length back end. This can be enjoyed as an apéritif, but can also stand up to a wide variety of dishes. In this particular instance it even paired well with pressed Louisiana wagyu! Drink now-2020.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White
2012 Schieferkopf Par Michel Chapoutier Riesling Lieu-dit Buehl France, Alsace
91 points
This straw-colored Riesling is effusive of green apples, clementines, diesel, white peaches and saline. Light-bodied, dry, vibrant and without noticeable alcohol, it has good mid-palate presence and is long on the finish. Enjoy this delicious whiite over the next five years.
White
2014 Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Saering France, Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru
91 points
Intensely aromatic, this straw-colored, dry Riesling offers a beautiful bouquet of pit fruits, citrus, wet stones and chamomile. Light-bodied, crisply acidic, seamlessly alcoholic and with flavors mirroring the nose, it is solid in the middle and finishes with impressive length. This should be at its best over the next five years. Drink now-2022.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sweet/Dessert
2015 Jorge Ordoñez & Co. Málaga #2 Victoria Spain, Andalucía, Málaga
94 points
From 100% Muscat (Alexandria clone), this straw-colored, intensely sweet wine serves up aromas and flavors of yellow peaches, pears, honey, white flowers, wet stones and candied ginger. With excellent acidity to balance its sweetness, it is viscous on the palate and finishes very long. Enjoy this this delicious "stickie" over the 5-7 years. Drink now-2024.

Flight 31 - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR LUNCHEON: WINES OF CHIANTI CLASSICO) (9 notes)

Sponsored by Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, the Saturday luncheon was another winner. Each table had twelve different Tuscan wines, making it nearly impossible to taste all of them in the luncheon’s time frame. I was able to sample nine while enjoying the delicious three-course meal.

The first course consisted of fresh burrata, served with grilled market vegetables and a balsamic-olive oil dressing.



For the main course, we were served gnocchi with short rib ragout, adorned with Castelvetrano olives, marinara sauce and ricotta salata. This tasted as good as it looked!



Dessert was a special treat, consisting of almond panna cotta with apricot coulis and fresh berries.

White
2015 Castello di Albola Poggio Alle Fate Toscana IGT Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
87 points
Comprised of 100% Chardonnay, this pale yellow wine sees no oak during its vinification. Light-bodied and crisp, it offers aromas and flavors of golden delicous apples, pears, citrus and wet stones. The wine's paltry 12.5% alcohol lurks silently and the middle palate is solid. Medium and vibrant on the back end, this is an easy-drinker that should be at its best over the next 2-3 years. Drink now-2020.
Red
2013 Castello di Ama Chianti Classico Gran Selezione San Lorenzo Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
90 points
From a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 13% Merlot and 7% Malvasia Nera, this deep ruby wine offers a beautiful perfumed nose of raspberries, violets, Bing cherries, baking spices and tobacco. Medium-bodied, freshly acidic and without any heat from its 13% alcohol, it delivers flavors in line with the nose,wrapped with medium-weight, dry tannins. With a solid mid-palate and lengthy finish, this will be something special with a bit more time in the cellar. Drink 2019-2030.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 Antinori Chianti Classico Pèppoli Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
90 points
This medium ruby wine is comprised of 90% Sangiovese, with the balance being divided between Merlot and Syrah. Bright red fruit pops from the glass, with raspberries and red plums being accented by rose petals, violets and dry earth. Medium-bodied, fresh, seamlessly alcoholic (13.5%) and with medium sweet tannins, it has good presence in the middle and finishes medium-long. Enjoy this delicious red over the next five years. Drink now-2022.
Red
2013 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
88 points
Medium ruby and medium-bodied, this red offers more on the nose at this point than it does on the palate. With a nice aromatic profile of red currants, raspberries, violets, tobacco and loamy earth, it delivers similar flavors on the attack, but these same flavors thin a bit in the middle. The wine is otherwise fresh and seamlessly alcoholic (13.5%), and does manage to resurrect a medium-length finish. I would be inclined to give this another year or two in the cellar, with the hope that the middle palate will fill in. If it does, it will deserve a higher score. Drink 2019-2024.
Red
2013 Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
92 points
This deep red/garnet wine offers a complex array of red fruits, anise, coriander, loamy earth and pipe tobacco. Full-bodied, fresh and with nicely integrated alcohol (listed as 14.5%), it is layered on the mid-palate, has just the right amount of oak and finishes with a long, albeit astringent finish. Give this wine some cellar time to allow the dusty tannins to assimilate. It may merit an even higher score in the future. Drink 2020-2030.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2013 Marchesi Mazzei Chianti Classico Castello di Fonterutoli Gran Selezione Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
91 points
This medium ruby wine is comprised of 92% Sangiovese, with the remainder split between Malvasia Nera and Colorino. Offering bright raspberry and cherry fruit with a supporting cast of baking spices, tobacco and loamy earth, it is medium-bodied, freshly acidic and has nicely integrated alcohol (listed as 13.5%). While deceivingly approachable from the attack through the solid middle palate, it flashes some gritty tannins on the lengthy finish. Give this one some time. Drink 2019-2030.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2012 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
92 points
There is no denying the quality of this medium ruby wine, but patience will be the key in order to partake of all of its qualities. Jam-packed with red plums, red currants, bittersweet chocolate, loamy earth and baking spices, it is intoxicating on the nose and very promising on the attack. Thereafter, the acid and grippy tannins take over, carrying all the way throughout the middle palate and lengthy finish. Lay this one down for a few years and you will be rewarded. It may merit an even higher score in the future. Drink 2020-2030.
Red
2013 Fontodi Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vigna del Sorbo Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
91 points
Laced with black plums and mixed bramble fruits, this 100% Sangiovese offering adds notes of tarragon, earth, tobacco and minerals. Full-bodied and freshly acidic, it has nicely integrated alcohol (listed as 14.5%) and equally well-integrated oak. Ripe and layered in the middle, it finishes long but with substantial tannic grip. Cellaring is in order here. Drink 2020-2033.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2013 Rocca delle Macìe Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Sergio Zingarelli Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
90 points
This deep garnet wine favors the red side of the fruit spectrum, with raspberry, strawberry and cherry at the core. Accented with notes of tobacco, mocha and minerals, it is a medium-bodied offering with fresh acidity, nicely integrated alcohol (14%) and medium sweet tannins, it maintains good tension throughout the dense mid-palate and lengthy finish. This is an elegant wine that is already drinking well. Enjoy it over the next several years. Drink now-2027.

Flight 32 - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR AFTERNOON PROGRAM: AMERICAN PINOT NOIR) (4 notes)

Following the Italian lunch was a session discussing American Pinot Noir. The featured guest, introduced by James Laube, was Adam Lee (Siduri). He gave an interesting talk about his background, then proceeded to dissect four very different 2014 Pinot Noir offerings, the differences being attributable to terroir (Willamette Valley, Russian River Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands and Sta. Rita Hills).





Growing up as the son of Baptist parents in Austin, Texas, Adam followed college with a job in a wine shop, then as the wine buyer for Neiman Marcus and subsequently as an assistant at Lambert Bridge Winery. He ultimately founded Siduri Wines with his wife, Diana, in 1994. Adam elicited a chuckle from the audience when he stated that he is not very adept at describing aromas and flavors of wine, choosing to leave the descriptors to the professional reviewers. He attributes his difficulty in describing fruit flavors to his upbringing, stating that he was “never exposed to fruit that didn’t come from a can drenched in simple syrup.”



All four wines were distinct and of outstanding quality. As such, this session was quite educational.

Red
2014 Siduri Pinot Noir Hawk's View Vineyard USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
90 points
This light-to-medium ruby wine is precise and well-structured. Offering aromas and flavors of dusty raspberries, pine nuts, blueberries, black tea and savory herbs, it is a medium-bodied Pinot with vibrant acidity. The alchohol, tannins and oak are all nicely integrated, creating a harmonious package that stays solid in the middle and finishes with good length. This should show well for several more years. Drink now-2024.
Red
2014 Siduri Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
92 points
This medium ruby Pinot is supple and expressive, with sweet red fruit, Asian spices, cocoa, orange zest and a hint of vanilla. Despite its fresh acidity and medium-weight tannins, it is silky textured, seamlessly alcoholic and easy to drink. Although completely dry, the wine's fruit and soft oak give it a sense of sweetness that carries through the middle palate and lengthy finish. Round and fruit-forward, it will be tough not to drink this when young. That said, there is enough structure here for at least another five years of enjoyment. Drink now-2022.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2014 Siduri Pinot Noir Garys' Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
92 points
Impressively combining structure with a complex core of spice and fruit, this medium ruby Pinot is delicious from the get-go. Coriander, anise and cardamom are superimposed on a background of red currants, raspberries and clementines. Medium-bodied, fresh, seamlessly alcoholic and appropriately oaked, it has good mid-palate density and finishes long. Very well crafted, this is one that should provide several more years of enjoyment. Drink now-2024.
Red
2014 Siduri Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills
92 points
Plush and expressive, this medium ruby Pinot is packed with red cherries, strawberries, pickling spice, cola and black tea. Medium-bodied, fresh and with nicely integrated alcohol, it has good mid-palate presence and a complementary dollop of oak. This wine's best attribute is its lengthy finish, leaving the taster yearning for more. Enjoy it over the next five years. Drink now-2022.

Flight 33 - OCTOBER 21, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR AFTERNOON PROGRAM: TOP 10 WINES OF 2016; WINE #1) (1 note)

Wine Spectator’s top wine of 2016 was the Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2013 (WS 95 points; $95). This was clearly a bittersweet award for Randy Lewis; bittersweet because he lost his wife, Debbie, to cancer in January of this year. Like Randy, Debbie was heavily involved in the day to day operations of Lewis Cellars. She reportedly was not only a wonderful lady, but also possessed a very discerning palate. A large part of what ended up in Lewis Cellars bottles was the result of her input.





Randy bravely spoke about Debbie, the history of Lewis Cellars and the special qualities of their 2013 Napa Cabernet. He has an endearing chuckle which was only interrupted with emotional moments when he choked up. I found it very uplifting when he spoke fondly about working with his stepson, Dennis Bell. Debbie’s biological son from a previous marriage, Randy described him as being nothing less than his own son. When talking about Dennis, Randy wore his love and pride on his sleeve.

Randy Lewis and Dennis Bell

Red
2013 Lewis Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley
96 points
This opaque crimson wine (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) serves up all of the sexy qualities that the Napa Valley can provide. Ripe bramble fruits, black currants, bittersweet chocolate, espresso and baking spices reside in a full-bodied, fresh frame. The tannins are substantial yet very fine-grained. Despite being listed as 15.5%, the alcohol lurks nicely in the background. While there is no paucity of oak, it is complementary to the fruit and does not go over the top. With excellent mid-palate density, beautiful purity of fruit and a long smooth finish, this is a Cabernet with everything in sync. Although it is delicious now, a few years of cellaring will pay dividends. Drink 2020-2035.

Flight 34 - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR AFTERNOON PROGRAM: CHÂTEAU MARGAUX) (6 notes)

Introduced by James Molesworth, Corinne Mentzelopoulos is one of those people who is instantly recognizable. At Château Margaux’s helm since the early 1980s, she has raised the quality of the estate dramatically.



After discussing the history of the property, she went on to describe the six wines being presented. Of note is that Château Margaux has progressively increased the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon over the years, with which “Merlot cannot compete.” With much admiration and affection, she credited all six wines to the genius of the late Paul Pontallier. At the same time, she pointed out that the estate is staying on a good course with its current managing director, Philippe Bascaules. Last but not least, she alluded to the fact that her youngest daughter, Alexandra Petit-Mentzelopoulos, represents the next generation that will be given the daunting task of managing something as hallowed as Château Margaux.



All wines were in excellent condition. Four of the six were poured from 750 cc bottles, while the 2011 Pavillon Blanc and 1986 Margaux were poured from magnum.





At the end of the session, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Corinne. She has a warm personality and an infectious smile. In the brief period of time that we spoke, she told two self-deprecating jokes. As accomplished as she is, she is clearly a humble woman who does not take herself too seriously.

White
2011 Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux Blanc France, Bordeaux
93 points
Tasted from an ex-château magnum, this straw colored white (100% Sauvignon Blanc) is effusive of stone fruits, lemon, white flowers, quince and chamomile. Medium-bodied, freshly acidic and with seamless alcohol, it stays solid in the middle and finishes long. This is showing beautifully now and should hold up nicely for another five years or more. Drink now-2022.
Red
2009 Château Margaux France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
98 points
An opaque ruby blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, the '09 iteration of Château Margaux is nothing short of hedonism in a glass. Full-bodied, heavily extracted and beautifully fresh, it offers an array of black and red fruits, bittersweet chocolate, licorice, espresso, truffles and pipe tobacco. The tannins are abundant but silky-textured, while the alcohol (13.5%) is equally well-integrated. Impressively dense on the mid-palate and finishing very long, this is hard to resist even at this young stage in its development. Drink 2024-2050.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2004 Château Margaux France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
93 points
The '04 Margaux offers enticing aromas of black cherries, tobacco, truffle, chocolate and savory herbs. Deep ruby/red, it is a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc that is freshly acidic and seamlessly alcoholic. The tannins are still quite grippy at this point, drying out the middle palate and turning the lengthy finish into a mouth-puckering marathon. Having re-tasted this wine at this point, I would favor extending the cellaring window. While this will never have the charm of better vintages, it is an excellent '04 that should ultimately round out some of its rough edges. Drink 2024-2040..
Red
1995 Château Margaux France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
96 points
This opaque red/garnet Margaux is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. The wine's big, black, plummy fruit is now breaking through its austere tannins. Accented with wild berries, lavender, sage, leather and pickling spice, it is full-bodied, fresh, plump on the mid-palate and long on the finish. This is very early in its drinking window and should last for decades. Drink now-2050.
Red
1989 Château Margaux France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
97 points
From a pristinely cellared ex-château bottle, this opaque garnet Margaux is absolutely stunning. A blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc, it delivers aromas and flavors of ripe plums, cassis, tobacco leaf, leather, truffles and loamy earth. Full-bodied, low in acidity, seamlessly alcoholic and with silky residual tannins, it is dense in the middle and closes with a long, smooth finish. Enjoy this round, hedonistic first growth over the next couple of decades. Drink now-2035.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
1986 Château Margaux France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
98 points
I have tasted Margaux's '86 iteration on numerous occasions over the past two decades and have come to the conclusion that it is a very misunderstood wine. I say this because I firmly believe that most opened bottles are not being given enough time in decanter for the wine to fully strut its stuff. As such, it is frequently described as closed, unyielding or "classic." While the latter term may apply with respect to its overall style and structure, I think that it should not be confused with something indomitable. This taste was from an ex-château magnum. A blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc, it is currently opaque garnet in color. During the structured Margaux vertical, the wine offered very little in terms of aroma and flavor. Knowing its history of requiring extended aeration, the glass was taken to our hotel room, where it was allowed to breathe and be serially tasted over the ensuing nine hours. At the six-hour point, it began to show progressively intense aromas of dark plums, blackberries, baking spices, leather and cigar box. The full-bodied, fresh palate showed similar flavors, with substantial residual tannins that are now taking on a more silky texture. The wine's mid-palate density is impressive and the finish is very long. This is tour de force for Château Margaux and, over time, a benchmark by which other vintages will be judged. Drink now-2045.
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Flight 35 - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR GRAND AWARD BANQUET: CHAMPAGNE RECEPTION) (1 note)

As in previous years, the Grand Award Banquet began with a Champagne reception on the fifth floor. Easels holding oversized photographs of each Grand Award-winning restaurant lined the periphery of the room, while the center had a large Champagne bar. Standing tables were scattered throughout so that guests could set their glasses down while enjoying a variety of tasty hors d'oeuvres presented by circulating servers.





Seven Champagnes were offered. With the exception of the Roederer Starck 2009, all were non-vintage. That said, they were all delightful and a great way to kick off the evening. While I tried small samples of each, my only tasting note was for the Starck 2009. This is because it was not practical (nor polite) to attempt to retrieve the disgorgement dates from the non-vintage bottles.

The Champagnes included:
Barons de Rothschild Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne NV
Charles Heidsieck Brut Champagne Réserve NV
Drappier Brut Nature Pinot Noir Champagne André et Michel NV
Louis Roederer Brut Nature Champagne Starck 2009
Perrier-Jouët Brut Rosé Champagne Blason NV
Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne Cuvée NV
Taittinger Brut Rosé Champagne Prestige NV

White - Sparkling
2009 Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Nature Cuvée Starck France, Champagne
93 points
A relatively new offering from Roederer, the Starck Nature 2009 is a zero-dosage, bone-dry Champagne that contains one-third Chardonnay, with the remaining two-thirds made up of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. With 25% primary barrel fermentation but no malolactic fermentation, it is a complex yet very fresh sparkler with an active, tiny bead. Straw-colored and highly aromatic, it serves up a combination of pit fruits, citrus, almonds, hazelnuts and brioche. Light-bodied, it delivers flavors mirroring the nose, accented with saline notes on the lengthy, vibrant finish. This Champagne offers lots of verve from beginning to end. Enjoy it over the next 6-7 years. Drink now-2024.

Flight 36 - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2017 (WINE SPECTATOR GRAND AWARD BANQUET: AWARD PRESENTATIONS, DINNER AND DANCING) (2 notes)

Following the Champagne reception, attendees transitioned to the sixth floor ballroom, which was fully decked out for a night of fun. We have always immensely enjoyed these events, dining with wine professionals and oenophiles from all over the world. This year we made some new Belgian friends!



The first presentations were to the 2017 Grand Award-winning restaurants. These included Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse (New York City, NY), Wally’s (Beverly Hills, CA), Grill 23 & Bar (Boston, MA), Le Climats (Paris, France) and PM & Vänner (Växjö, Sweden). All recipients gave nice terse acceptance speeches, but the most memorable came from Crystl Faye Horton, sommelier at Del Frisco’s. A very accomplished (and coincidentally attractive) woman in the wine business, she immediately disarmed every lady in the room by stating that, if it seemed like she was out of breath, it is because she had required three friends to help her squeeze into the slinky gown that she was wearing! The crowd erupted with laughter.



Awards were then presented to Randy Lewis for his 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet, the Wine Spectator Wine of the Year for 2016, followed by the Distinguished Service Award to Barbara Banke from Jackson Family Wines. Both gave good speeches that were captivating and relatively brief.

The first dinner course was a wild mushroom and asiago tart, served with petite greens and balsamic-roasted strawberries. This was served with the Capensis Chardonnay, which was a reasonably good match.



For the main course, we were served a horseradish-crusted filet of beef, with brie creamed spinach, truffle fingerling potatoes and demi-glace. The filet was cooked nicely and was well-paired with the Hickinbotham Cabernet Sauvignon Truman.



Dessert consisted of a blackout cake with chocolate glaze and milk chocolate ice cream. This was a very decadent way to end a meal!



Diners then danced the night away to the sights and sounds of Alter Ego, a large and diversified band that put on a visual and auditory spectacle. They played a wide variety of songs, leaving no one disappointed. All in all, it was a great evening!

White
2014 Capensis Chardonnay South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
87 points
Laden with tropical fruit, this Chardonnay is New World in every sense of the term. Straw-colored, medium-bodied, seamlessly alcoholic (14.5%) and with low-to-medium acidity, it adds notes of pit fruits, lavender and vanilla. Approximately half of this wine is aged for 10 months in new French oak, and it shows. The creamy oak component is perhaps a bit overdone, but the fruit is not lost, staying present on the mid-palate and throughout the medium-length finish. This shoulld be at its best over the next 3-4 years. Drink now-2021.
Red
2014 Hickinbotham Cabernet Sauvignon Trueman Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
91 points
This opaque crimson, 100% Cabernet offering is rich and dense, filled with ripe cassis, black cherries, bittersweet chocolate and violets. Full-bodied, fresh and with nicely integrated alcohol (listed as 14.5%), it wraps its fruit with big sweet tannins and stays dense on the mid-palate. The beautiful fruit lingers nicely throughout the lengthy back end, which closes with notes of toasted oak. Enjoy this hedonistic Cab over the next decade. Drink now-2027.

Flight 37 - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017 (ROCKEFELLER CENTER AND DEL FRISCO’S DOUBLE EAGLE STEAKHOUSE) (1 note)

Rockefeller Center is always a fun place to stroll and take in sights.



We were already scheduled to see a play at 7:00 pm and dine at 10:15 pm, so we knew that light bar food in the late afternoon would tide us over (but not satiate us) before our play and late-night dinner. Accordingly, we dropped in to Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse on Avenue of the Americas, not for their famous steaks but instead for something lighter. The restaurant had received the Wine Spectator Grand Award the night before, which piqued our interest.



We sat at the bar of this attractive, casual restaurant. I ordered a Beefeater martini, while my wife had a glass of 2016 Martín Códax Albariño (poured from a freshly-opened, chilled bottle). My martini (priced at $16) was perfectly prepared to my specifications and was in a huge glass, literally making it a “double.” My wife’s glass of Albariño was likewise reasonably priced ($12) and was a generous pour. The photo below reflects the glasses after we had taken our first sips.



We perused the menu, and I could not resist also thumbing through the extensive Grand Award-winning wine list (even though I knew that we would not be desiring a bottle at the present time).

My wife ordered artichoke beignets. These came drenched with a Fontina, Parmesan and sweet basil dressing. Unfortunately, they were doughy, unevenly cooked and a little too pasty for our taste.



I ordered the ahi tacos, which consisted of ahi tartare with avocado and spicy citrus mayo in fried taco shells. The plate was generous and the flavors were good, but the fried taco shells were too heavy…this would never fly in San Diego.



Despite the shortcomings of our brief stop at Del Frisco’s, we plan to return at some point in the future so that we can order what they do best…a big ass New York steak and a bottle of Napa Cabernet!

White
2016 Martín Códax Albariño Rías Baixas Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas
88 points
This straw colored Albariño delivers white peaches, tangerines and wet stones in a racy, light-bodied package. With seamless alcohol and no oak, it remains vibrant throughout the middle palate and medium-length finish. This can be enjoyed on its own, but seafood crudo would be ideal. Drink now-2019.

Flight 38 - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017 (A BROADWAY MUSICAL…THEN LATE DINNER AT BENOIT) (2 notes)

Beautiful, The Carole King Musical highlights King’s brilliance by telling her story from age 16 to approximately age 30. The acting and music are nothing short of spectacular. We loved it from start to finish and highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t already seen it.



After the play, we walked the few blocks from the Stephen Sondheim Theatre to Benoit, a French-themed bistro within the empire of Chef Alain Ducasse. Our reservations were quite late. As such, there were few diners remaining by the time we arrived. Executive Chef Laëtitia Rouabah has been running the kitchen for the past 13 years, and she remained there throughout our meal.





Seated in a nice corner table, we were brought madeleines and French bread while we perused the menu and extensive (Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence-winning) wine list. While we desired to order a half bottle of white Burgundy, the restaurant (surprisingly) does not offer any wines by the half bottle, and their by-the-glass selection did not have anything that tickled our fancy. We therefore had a round of cocktails and proceeded to order a bottle of 2013 Thomas Morey Maranges 1er Cru La Fussière. The sommelier did not decant the wine, but aeration would have likely been helpful because the wine did not fully strut its stuff until the end of our dinner.

For her first course, my wife ordered the lobster salad, served with quinoa, cucumber and fresh mint. The lobster and other ingredients were fresh, but the flavors were not memorable.



I ordered the onion soup gratinée, which had lots of gooey cheese, onion and red wine flavor. It was good, but again, nothing memorable.



For my wife’s entrée, she ordered the roasted cod, served with a mango/passion fruit rougaille sauce. While the cod was light and fresh, the sauce was quite spicy, with heat that overwhelmed the fish.



I ordered the sweet spiced Rohan duck, served with apple, onion and ginger condiments. The generous-sized portion of duck was cooked perfectly and the flavors were spot-on. This dish was a winner and was the best match with the Maranges.



Because we were full, we elected to pass on dessert. But as we sat at our table (finishing our red Burgundy), we began conversing with an unmistakable wine celebrity who was dining at a nearby table. We had recognized him when we first arrived, because his hair speaks almost as loudly as the quality of his wines. Despite having sold Charles Smith Wines to Constellation last year (for a paltry $120 million), he remains the winemaker and likewise remains very passionate about his wines. We had a nice conversation, mostly about our mutual prediction that the wines of Washington State will explode in popularity over the next decade. In my mind, this is a no-brainer, as the overall quality of Washington’s wines is already outstanding (and continuing to improve exponentially).



On our walk back to the hotel, we enjoyed more of the sights and sounds of Times Square. We both agreed that the sirens were so common that we had become numb to them. We got back to our room, watched TV and opened a 2015 Domaine Germain Pommard, which we enjoyed with snacks. After a glass, we capped off the bottle and retired to bed in the wee hours of the morning.

Red
2013 Domaine Thomas Morey Maranges 1er Cru La Fussière France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Maranges 1er Cru
87 points
With a fairly intense nose of red currants, raspberries, clove and cocoa, this medium ruby Pinot goes on to deliver comparable flavors in a medium-bodied, fresh frame. While the alcohol (13%) and oak are nicely integrated, the medium-weight tannins are quite grippy at this point. Dropping off a bit in the middle and finishing somewhat clipped, this is a wine that will likely benefit from cellaring. Assuming that the tannins soften, the middle fills in and the finish lengthens (which is very possible with cellar time), it will likely merit a higher score. Drink 2020-2027.
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Red
2015 Domaine Germain Pere & Fils Pommard France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Pommard
90 points
Bright red fruit and baking spices dominate the nose and palate of this medium ruby, light-to-medium-bodied wine. Accented with notes of lavender and Mandarin orange, it is a fresh, seamlessly alcoholic (13%), softly oaked offering with silky tannins. Retaining good mid-palate presence and finishing with medium length, this is an eminently enjoyable Pinot that is already showing well. Drink now-2023.
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Flight 39 - MONDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2017 (LUNCH AT THE GRILL) (3 notes)

After tasting Mario Carbone’s tuna ravigote at the Wine Spectator chef’s challenge, we were determined to dine at The Grill so that we could sample more of his amazing culinary creations. Located in the historic Seagram Building in space that was previously leased by the Four Seasons restaurant, it was leased and refurbished with historic accuracy by The Grill’s current owners. Beautifully appointed with a nice mix of contemporary and traditional elements, it is a visually attractive, comfortable space adorned with French walnut, shimmering blinds and classic fabrics (including the linens). The captains wear black tuxedos, the servers and bussers white coats and the sommeliers tailored suits.





We began our adventure by selecting our dishes, then ordering wines from the extensive wine list. I began with a glass of 2016 Reverdy-Ducroux Sancerre Les Vignes Silex, while my wife selected a glass of 2013 Thomas Fogarty Chardonnay. We suspected that these would be good matches with the tuna ravigote and the Seagram crab cake, respectively. They were indeed excellent matches, and we had enough in each glass to “nurse” them throughout the entire meal.

Our red wine option was a bottle of 2012 Bethel Heights Aeolian Pinot Noir. I selected this without the assistance of the sommelier, as I felt that it would pair well with my filet mignon Florentine and even better with my wife’s honey mustard duckling. This turned out to be an excellent choice (if I do say so myself).

My tuna ravigote was beautifully presented and was a larger-scale version of what was served at the Wine Spectator event. Fresh and delicious, it is one of New York’s finest dishes.



My wife’s crab cake had excellent freshness and texture, but was a bit too salty.



My filet mignon Florentine was perfectly cooked to my medium rare specification. It was a generous tender steak, topped with spinach and served with a steak sauce that included pestled spinach and slices of nebrodini mushrooms. This was about as good as a filet can get.



My wife’s honey mustard duckling was nothing short of perfection on a plate. The duck meat was extremely tender and flavorful and the skin was delightfully crispy. I sampled her dish and we both agreed that it was the best preparation of duck that we had ever had.



All in all, our experience at Chef Carbone’s restaurant was wonderful, and we would strongly recommend The Grill as a Manhattan dining destination. When we next visit New York we will return for dinner.

White
2016 Domaine Reverdy-Ducroux Sancerre Les Vignes Silex France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre
90 points
This straw-colored Sauvignon Blanc delivers aromas and flavors of lemon zest, white peaches, wet stones and chervil. Light-bodied, freshly acidic and without detectable oak or alcohol, it retains good vibrancy in the middle and closes with a crisp, medium-length finish. This delicious white can be enjoyed on its own or paired with light fare. Drink now-2020.
White
2013 Thomas Fogarty Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
92 points
Medium golden in color, this Chardonnay delivers a nice combination of ripe fruit, acid and minerality. Lemon curd, baked apples, white peaches, wet stones and vanilla reside in a medium-bodied, fresh frame with nicely integrated alcohol and equally well-integrated oak. Layered and dense on the mid-palate, it goes on to finish with impressive length. All components are in harmony here to ensure enjoyment for another 5-6 years. Drink now-2023.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2012 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Æolian Estate USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola - Amity Hills
92 points
This deep ruby wine is effusive of black cherry, raspberry, orange zest, black tea and bay leaf aromas. Medium-to-full-bodied, freshly acidic and without any heat from its reported 13.7% alcohol, it delivers flavors mirroring the nose. Aged for 11 months in French oak (40% new), it currently has a wood component that is complementary rather than dominant. The tannins are medium in weight and are silky-texured at this point. Beautifully dense on the mid-palate and finishing medium-to-long, this is a quality Pinot that should provide pleasure for at least another five years. Drink now-2022.
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Flight 40 - MONDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2017 (ANOTHER BROADWAY MUSICAL…THEN LATE BITES AND COCKTAILS AT THE RAINBOW ROOM) (1 note)

For those who enjoyed the movie, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway version of School of Rock is a unique pleasure. Especially enjoyable are the extremely talented youngsters who play musical instruments and sing. The young guitar player, Zachary Zwelling, gave a particularly compelling performance.



Following the play, we strolled to the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center. Located on the 65th floor of the NBC building, it is a large, smartly appointed restaurant and bar with amazing views of the entire city. We sat in the bar (called “Bar SixtyFive’), where we ordered cocktails and bites. The drinks, food and view were hard to beat. There is nothing like the Empire State Building as a backdrop!



Gin and tonic salmon tartare, made with Dorothy Parker gin, cured salmon, pickled lemon, dill aioli and tonic gelée, served with ultra-thin rye toast.



Triple-fried French fries, served with Champagne béarnaise. These were crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside…perfect bar food.



Full and happy, we spent more time viewing the animate and inanimate sights of Times Square before returning to our hotel room, where we watched late-night TV and had a glass of Joseph Drouhin Saint-Véran.

White
2015 Joseph Drouhin Saint Véran France, Burgundy, Mâconnais, Saint Véran
88 points
Green apple, white peach and lavender aromas characterize the nose of this light-bodied, straw-colored Chardonnay. Vibrantly acidic and without any heat from its 13% alcohol, it delivers flavors mirroring the nose, adds notes of wet stones and has good mid-palate density. The finish is crisp and medium in length. Enjoy this easy-drinker with or without food over the next 3-4 years. Drink now-2021.

Flight 41 - TUESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2017 (MID-AFTERNOON MEAL AT TRIBECA GRILL) (1 note)

Due to thunderstorms, United Airlines cancelled our flight to San Diego. We were able to book a flight for Wednesday, and fortunately the Marriott Marquis had room to accommodate us for another night (without even having to change rooms).

We decided to take lemons and make lemonade. While the rainy weather made it less desirable to go strolling in Midtown, in New York it is always easy to hail a cab. We accordingly rode to Tribeca Grill for a mid-afternoon meal.

Located in the trendy Tribeca neighborhood, Tribeca Grill reminds me of the bar/restaurant featured in the old TV show “Cheers.” A square-shaped vintage wooden bar sits in the middle of the restaurant, which is surrounded by wooden tables. On the walls are paintings drawn by one of the co-owners’ father (Robert De Niro, Sr.). The paintings are actually quite good, and the space has a nice relaxing vibe.





We ordered from the special “midday menu,” which is distinct from lunch and dinner. While I enjoyed perusing the extensive wine list (a Wine Spectator Grand Award winner), we ultimately settled on the great “Burger & Burgundy” deal. By ordering any red or white Burgundy from a selected list, the customers were entitled to two free burger meals. The offerings included six white wines (priced $89 to $595) and eighteen red wines (priced $89 to $899). We ordered the 2014 Jean-Marc Pavelot Chorey-lès-Beaune Les Beaumonts ($99). This turned out to be a good choice and was thoroughly enjoyable with the decadent, juicy burgers and equally decadent fries.



On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by Tribeca Wine Merchants, where we had shopped during a previous visit to New York. This is essentially Tribeca’s neighborhood wine shop, with many reasonably priced wines as well as some expensive gems (such as pristine-appearing 1961 Cheval Blanc for $2,100). We couldn’t resist buying a couple of bottles to take back to the room, although we ultimately did not have the stamina to finish more than half of each bottle.



Red
2014 Domaine Pavelot (Jean-Marc et Hugues) Chorey-les-Beaune Les Beaumonts France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chorey-les-Beaune
90 points
This light-to-medium-ruby Pinot delivers a payload of Rainier cherries, raspberries, clove and orange zest. Light-to-medium-bodied, fresh, seamlessly alcoholic (13%), softly oaked and with medium sweet tannins, it has excellent purity of fruit and stays solid in the middle. The medium-length finish concludes with notes of mulling spices. This is a quality, well-priced red Burgundy that is just entering its drinking window. Enjoy it over the next 6-7 years. Drink now-2024.

Flight 42 - TUESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2017 (A BROADWAY MUSICAL AND LATE-NIGHT ROOM SERVICE) (2 notes)

In our attempt to squeeze every last bit of fun out of our trip, we decided to see another Broadway play. Anastasia is a phenomenal production. With excellent vocals, great acting and amazing sets, this is a Broadway musical that has something for everyone. Anastasia is yet another Broadway production that we would highly recommended for visitors and New York residents.



Later in the evening, we ordered room service snacks and sampled the Dureuil-Janthial Rully and Clos du Mont-Olivet Châteauneuf. These excellent wines paired well with various snacks, but half of each bottle was left behind when we finally hit the sack.

White
2014 Dureuil-Janthial Rully France, Burgundy, Côte Chalonnaise, Rully
90 points
Rully is arguably the most underrated appellation in Burgundy, and this village-level bottling from Dureuil-Janthial is consistent with that impression. Straw-colored and nicely aromatic, it offers scents of pit fruits, wet stones, citrus and jasmine. Light-bodied, freshly acidic and with unnoticeable alcohol (listed as 13%), it goes on to deliver flavors reflective of the aromas. This wine was aged for 16 months in French oak (25% new), yet is not dominated by the wood. Instead, the oak lurks as a background singer that adds dimension. Solid in the miiddle and medium in length on the back end, this is a delicious white Burgundy well worthy of its sticker price. Enjoy it over the next five years. Drink now-2022.
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Red
2015 Clos du Mont-Olivet Châteauneuf-du-Pape France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
92 points
Dense and layered, this Châteauneuf offers classic red and black bramble fruits, garrigue, black pepper, smoke and leather. Medium-to-full-bodied, fresh and with substantial fine-grained tannins, it hides its 15% alcohol nicely, has excellent mid-palate presence and maintains good tension throughout the lengthy finish. This will become something diifferent but equally enjoyable in a decade. Enjoy it throughout all stages of its life. Drink now-2030.

Closing

With the storm over and the return of mild weather, we were able to catch a Delta flight from JFK to San Diego. I write these closing comments from 35,000 feet, sad to be leaving New York but looking forward to returning to our beloved La Jolla.



This year’s trip to Manhattan was a whirlwind, as we packed numerous restaurants and Broadway shows around the Wine Spectator event. There was very little “down time” during our nine-day stay, but that is the way we wanted it. It was a wine, food and entertainment vacation on steroids!

As has always been the case, we were treated by New Yorkers with the utmost courtesy and respect. Autumn in the Big Apple is something special, and we cannot wait to return next year.

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