Haut-Brion. Mouton Rothschild. Lafite Rothschild. Chateau Margaux. Opus One. Chateau d’Yquem. These are some of the finest wines in the world, and they’re all ranked 90 points or higher by Wine Spectator, making them eligible for participation in this past weekend’s 35th Annual New York Wine Experience’s Grand Tastings, the flagship event of the annual festival, which brings together hundreds of wineries and thousands of guests for classes, seminars, and a gala. 267 different wines were poured during this year’s Grand Tastings, and if there’s a finer selection of wine being poured at any festival on earth, I’d be very surprised.
For $275 per person, guests had the opportunity to mingle with wine lovers and in many cases the wine producers themselves at the massive Grand Tasting, held in the Marriott Marquis’ grand ballroom, which we were fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to attend. Along with the aforementioned wines, there was a superb selection of vintage Champagne (including Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires 1995 and Champagne Henriot 1998); Napa red (2012 Schrader T6 Beckstoffer To Kalon, 2012 Opus One, 2012 Peter Michael Les Pavots, Verite La Joie 2012); Italian nebbiolo and barolo (2011 Langhe Gaja Costa Russi, 2007 Bruno Giacosa Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva); and plenty of stunning whites, including Mount Eden Vineyards 2011 Chardonnay, 2012 Kistler Trenton Roadhouse Chardonnay, and 2009 F.E. Trimbach Riesling. Wines ranged in value from below $40 (Monte Carbonare 2012 suavia) to a $750 and up (Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac 2009, $1,000; 2005 Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes, $790), with the average bottle valued at around $100.
Needless to say, the event was an embarrassment of riches, and an amazing way to sample a seemingly endless array of wines that are far beyond the everyday price range. But more than that, it was an opportunity to try some of the finest wines on earth and chat with the people who devote their lives to maintaining a level of quality that’s unattainable for the average winemaker. If you’re a wine lover, there’s no reason why this event shouldn’t be on your radar next year.