"This is the biggest day of the year for me!" exclaimed Marty Mathis, president of Kathryn Kennedy Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Mathis, who is also the late Kathryn's son, was pouring one of the 244 all-star wines at the 2016 Wine Spectator Grand Tour tasting held April 26 at the New York Marriott Marquis. "I'm pulling out all the stops, pouring my finest stuff," said Mathis, who, indeed, had brought the winery's last cases of its Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 to share with the wine lovers converging on the Tour's three stops—New York, followed by Washington, D.C.. on April 28, and Las Vegas on April 30. The wines, all rated 90 points or higher, covered the full spectrum of classic and innovative styles from five U.S. states and 15 nations.
Prince Robert of Luxembourg, president of Bordeaux's Domaine Clarence Dillon, was enthusiastic to share three of his company's wines: Château Haut-Brion 2006, La Mission Haut-Brion 2006 and the St.-Emilion Château Quintus 2012. "It's a great wine to show here," he said of the '06 Haut-Brion. "The 2006 is an exceptional vintage, and it's interesting for people to revisit vintages like this with 10 years of age."
Guests could start off their nights with sparklers from Champagne's Perrier-Jouët, Nicolas Feuillatte and Pommery and Italy's Ferrari. There were California Cabernet and Pinot mavens like Beaulieu, Heitz, Hall, Alpha Omega, Caymus, Siduri and Williams Selyem; Burgundians such as Louis Latour and Albert Bichot pouring grands and premiers crus; and Italian marquee names, including Fontodi, Bastianich, Aldo Conterno, Bibi Graetz, Masi, Antinori and Ornellaia. Altesino was sharing its 98-point Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli 2010.
But there were also singular and less familiar wines demonstrating the variety of today's fine-wine world: single-vineyard rarities from Australia's d'Arenberg and Hentley Farm; late-harvest Muscat from Hungary's Alana-Tokaj; Dominio de Atauta of Spain's tiny-production Ribera del Duero Llanos del Almendro 2012, rated 96 points; and New York state's own Bedell and Grapes of Roth, as well as Virginia's Barboursville.
"I love it! What can I say?" said first-time Grand Tourer Bianca Rocco, who was in a group near the buffet table—bánh mì sandwiches, seafood paella and gruyere mac'n'cheese among the pickings—with fellow New Yorker James Cifelli. "The energy is palpable," he added, pointing out the Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne 2012 and Paul Jaboulet Aîné Côte-Rôtie Domaine des Pierrelles 2012 as two favorites.
The Grand Tour is also about sharing and deepening one's passion and knowledge of wine. One five-time Tour veteran had brought along a two-time attendee and an eager wine novice at his first Tour. "We love the wine," said the veteran. "That's why we're here—the fact that you can taste so many great wines in one place." The Haut-Brion was their favorite.
But why not taste for yourself? Tickets and information for the D.C. and Vegas events can be found at GrandTour.WineSpectator.com.
Photos by Michael Marquand and Jenna Bascom