In the first part of this series, find out which wines that the Decanter editorial team is most excited about tasting at the Decanter Fine Wine Encounter NYC on Saturday 18th June 2022.
Amy Wislocki – Decanter Magazine Editor
At the end of every year at Decanter, we organise a ‘Wines of the Year‘ tasting. We ask our key contributors and editorial staff to pick out the wines that most impressed them during the year just gone, nominating classic, offbeat and value choices. We then call in these picks to be tasted blind by a panel of experts. It’s always an incredible tasting, with dozens and dozens of high-scoring recommendations published as a result, in print and online. This Cape Landing wine was among the very highest scorers in the entire tasting, rated Exceptional at 98 points. I’m a big fan of the cool-climate Margaret River Cabernet style, so can’t wait to try this wine, which is made in tiny quantities from the finest parcels of fruit.
Last summer Billecart-Salmon threw a party in London to celebrate the launch of the Elisabeth Salmon Rosé 2008. It was such a fun evening, one of the first trade events held post-Covid lockdown. I spent a while catching up with friends, and also chatting to the impressive Mathieu Roland-Billecart, seventh generation of the family and head of the Champagne house. Billecart-Salmon Champagnes always impress, and Cuvée Nicolas François is one of its top wines. I absolutely love Champagne’s 2002 vintage and to taste this prestige cuvée 20 years after the harvest will be a treat, for sure.
Whispering Angel, also made by Château d’Esclans, is the go-to Provence rosé for many wine lovers, but Garrus is a massive step up from that – in price as much as anything: it’s among the world’s most expensive rosés, if not the most expensive. Made from 100-year-old Grenache vines, with Vermentino added (known as Rolle in the region), it’s fermented and aged in new large French oak barrels for 11 months. An entirely different rosé experience, and perfect for a summer tasting.
Every claret lover knows that 2009 was a fabulous vintage. Rated five stars out of five by Jane Anson in our latest Bordeaux guide, where she looks back over every vintage in that decade, it’s described by her as ‘an excellent year, rivalling both 2000 and 2005 but altogether different in style: more exuberant and easy to love from its first moments. She goes on to call it a ‘modern-day 1982’ – so I’ll definitely take the opportunity to taste this 2009 from St-Julien fourth growth Château Beychevelle. Even if I can’t afford to go out and buy it afterward.
My first press trip after joining Decanter back in 2000 was to northern Greece, and included a visit to this respected and long-established estate. I’ve loved the wines of Greece ever since – particularly those made from indigenous varieties (I do have a particular soft spot for Xinomavro). No Xinomavro in this juicy red blend, but a fascinating mix of predominantly Limnio with Mavrotragano and Mavroudi, three grapes that you don’t come across every day. This is a must-try for all wine adventurers (and that includes me).
Natalie Earl – Regional Editor (France excl. Bordeaux & Burgundy)
The Drappier family are an innovative bunch. I visited them at their domaine and family home in Urville in the Côtes des Bars in March 2022, and it’s clear that the new generation has inherited their father Michel’s forward-thinking and creative spirit. Among the excellent wines tasted during my stay, the Millésime Exception 2010 stood out like a shining beacon. Tasted from magnum, it had such a fresh and inviting nose, drawing on lemon curd, peach and stewed apple with a linear, sappy palate, balancing freshness and honeyed complexity with grace. If the ageability of the 2010 is anything to go by, then the 2008 must surely be singing.
In Matt Walls’ May column for Decanter Premium, he spoke to César Perrin of Château de Beaucastel to hear about how this biodynamic estate has been tackling the climate crisis head-on. In his 2021 Rhône en primeur tastings, Walls scored the 2020 vintage of Château de Beaucastel 96 points, saying it had ‘exceptionally smooth and fine tannins, lovely acidity and notes of blackberry and raspberry juice’ – all important elements to allow for long-term ageing. In which case I would be dying to try the 2006.
Julie Sheppard – Regional Editor (Spain, Portugal & South America)
Rutini’s serious top-level Malbec showcases the quality that’s currently coming out of Argentina – and also proves that these are wines built for the long haul. Head winemaker Mariano Di Paola creates this blend from a selection of top Malbec vineyards in Altamira, La Consulta and Tupungato. The first vintage was 1997. The young 2019 vintage scored 95 points in a Decanter Panel Tasting last October, so I would be very interested to taste this earlier vintage and see how it has evolved.
904 is one of the two great Gran Reservas produced by La Rioja Alta (the other is 890). The name commemorates the year 1904, when La Rioja Alta merged with Viña Ardanza, and they released the wine that eventually became 904. La Rioja Alta’s technical director, Julio Sáenz, says: The 890 has an explosive character, it’s more tannic and complex, with a horizontal structure. By contrast, 904 is very elegant, with less tannin and a more vertical structure.’ A blend of Tempranillo with 10% Graciano, 904 spends four years in oak, and matures beautifully with further time in bottle. It scored 95 points in our ‘Wines of the Year’ tasting, so would be very keen to revisit this in June.
Chilean winemaker Aurelio Montes has pioneered fine wine in Chile since the late 1980s, convinced that the country’s terroir was capable of making world-class wines at a time when many of his peers were focusing on price-driven value bottles. His belief and vision paid off – and the Montes Alpha range is a great showcase for both his talents and Chile’s high-altitude terroir. Made with 10% Merlot in the blend, this is a complex Cabernet that will open up with layers of black fruit, spice, cigar box, leather and mocha.
Gramona is my favourite Cava producer and their long-lived wines really set a benchmark for the category. If you’ve never tried them before, make a beeline for this wine, which is a 60:40 blend of Xarel-lo and Macabeo, sourced from plots called La Plana and Mas Escorpí that were farmed by the Batlle family since 1850. Today the vineyards are farmed organically and biodynamically. This cuvée receives a longer ageing than other Gramona sparklers, creating a gloriously complex wine with fine tiny bubbles and notes of stone fruit, brioche, yeast, flint, praline, almonds, hazelnuts and patisserie.
The Grand Tasting is at the heart of Decanter Fine Wine Encounters and will take place in the beautiful Bay Room, on the 60th floor of Manhatta featuring breathtaking panoramic views of Manhattan and its surrounding waterways. Set to be a truly unforgettable experience, producers will showcase four wines each with one being a very special bottle specifically selected from the winery’s cellar.
You will also have the opportunity to attend four exceptional masterclasses throughout the day.
Learn from the experts at our world-class 75-minute tutored tastings:
Whether you are New York dwellers or short-term visitors, tickets are strictly limited so make sure you don’t miss out.
Decanter Fine Wine Encounter NYC
Date: Saturday June 18 2022 from 10:30am to 6pm.
Location: Bay Room at Manhatta
Price: Grand Tasting tickets from $225 | Masterclass tickets from $235
Tickets go on general sale on Friday 11 March.