• Alexander Smith

New York Wine Experience 2018 Review

The New York Wine Experience: The greatest wine event in the world! The top wineries, pour their top wines, and all in the same building. There is no event in the world like it. Whether you like, Rioja, Sherry, Port, Bordeaux or Napa, the New York Wine Experience has it all. The full event takes place over 3 days, however for 2 nights, over 250 wineries from across the world pour their top wines. It really is a dream, and for me it was the first (and hopefully not!), the last time attending this mind-blowing event.

Prior to the event, the first question which most will have, how do you taste 250 wines in 3 hours? Well you don't, you have a plan, and a good plan. That is what we (My wife and I) had prior to the event. You cannot try everything, so we narrowed it down to our 50 must try wines. Now 50 wines in 3.5 hours was still tough, however we found it was the perfect balance and allowed us to try a range of wines, from Penfolds 707 to Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2003 to Gaja Sperss 2013. We got a flavour of the best wines in the world, confirming old favourites, finding some new hidden gems, and a few disappointments.

Me trying to write notes to over 50 wines, challenging but I think it was a success!

However, first I would like to give advice to those who have never been but would like to go to this event. The three day wine experience is $2500, which is a lot of money, and also is a lot of drinking wine. If you find that steep, but still want a great evening out, then there are two 'Grand Tastings' evening you can take part in. The 'Grand Tastings' occur from 19h30-22h00 (~$350) or 18h30-22h00. (~$450), on the both Thursday and Friday nights. These tastings allow you to try around 250 wines. So my advice for newcomers are as follows:

  • Go for the 3.5 hour option, 2.5 hours is just not long enough to justify the cost

  • Arrive early, it is difficult to guess how many people are there, however we arrived 15 minutes before, and had to wait 10 minutes in the cue. That might not sound a lot however it does add up!

  • There is a coat check (~$4), and they only take cash. Don't ask me why you have to pay this on top of the $350++ you have already paid

  • Have a plan, with a map. Make sure you select no more than 50 wines, and do research in advance.

  • There is a food buffet, however this is very basic, with cheese, charcuterie, some 'sliders' and Dim Sum. Compared to the wine being served, the food is very underwhelming. Yes, I know you are not there for the food, but you will still have to eat.

So with all of that said, the wines tried were phenomenal. I came away with a whole new appreciation of wine. I was convinced I would fall in love with the first growths of Bordeaux, and realize that Napa was over-rated. That Italy was stuck in the past and that Sauternes was boring.

Burgundy style Chardonnay from California - Kistler 2012 Stone Flat Vineyards - 92 points

I cannot say that France rules the world of wine anymore. Yes, France does produce some excellent wines, however the quality coming out of Australia, Chile, Argentina, California, Oregon and Italy are as good if not better than some of the best wines in Bordeaux, Burgundy or even Rhone. Looking through my tasting notes I gave 95+ points to wines from most of the above places. However the big difference for me was the price, whilst prices in Bordeaux, Burgundy are creeping up for the first growths, you can get the same quality for half the price in California, Italy or a third of the price in South America. For those wanting to drink quality wine who cannot afford Bordeaux or Burgundy, there are other regions where you can buy top quality wine without breaking the bank.

2013 Joseph Phelps Insginia, Napa - 99 points

So with over 50 wines tasted, which were the highlights? The following list and tasting notes covered what I felt were the highlights of the evening:

  • Almaviva 2015 - Wow! Lush plum, cherry a little chocolate and spice. This is really phenomenal in every sense, perfectly balanced, even at this age. Balance is perfect and the length lasts minutes, wow. Already bought some. 97-98

  • Carter Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon The O.G Beckstoffer-To-Kalon 2010 - So you smell this wine and you think, here we go, blackberry jam, but then, no on the palate elegance takes over and you have a sophisticated, layered, well-balanced acidity with additional notes of black pepper, cedar, little black olives. However, the black fruit really comes through and complements the secondary notes, this wine is just class. 96+

  • Cheval Blanc 2011 - This is a serious wine, 52% Cab France the rest Merlot. This is a big full concetrated wine with notes of blackberry, tobacco, smoke bittersweet chocolate and a very layered velvety finish. This is still so young however this is just going to get better and better. A real treat. 96 points

  • Cos d'Estournel 2010 - Wow! What a fabulous wine, barely entering it's drinking window and this is going to last for decades to come. How can I get some bottles? I wish I would have bought this En Primeur. Notes of blackberry, dark cherry, cedar and a little chocolate with a long fine finish which is making you itch to have another sip. I am also told that 2018 should be a good year...98 points

  • Evening Land Pinot Noir La Source Seven Springs Vineyard 2015 - Pinot of the night. So elegant with dark cherry, blackcurrant, velvety smooth finish. This blew all the wines from Burgundy out of the water tonight - 96 points

  • Gaja Barolo Sperss 2013 - As I said to my wife, if you don't like this, you don't like Nebbiolo. As it happened, she loved this wine and rightly so. This is so wonderfully Nebbiolo and is enjoyable today. Rose, tar, violet, cherry nicely balanced with the oak. the finish is worth waiting for and is just the highlight. This is just excellent, and the best it will only get better :) - 97 points

  • Masseto 2009 - This was sublime, 99 seems high, but for me this is one of the best wines I have ever tried. Elegance, elegance and elegance. Cherry, plum, chocolate, spice with a delicate light smooth finish. The finish just kept going. The question is, can I justify the price tag? Maybe just one bottle - 99 points

  • La Mission Haut Brion 2006 - This is so elegant and refined, with fine notes of coffee, cherry, vanilla, and a smooth refined finish. I preferred this to any of the first growths on show tonight - 97 points

  • Penfolds 707 2015 - Every so fresh and lively, this is already showing what a great vintage 2015 was in Australia. You can already taste the purity of fruit, with cherries, blackberries, some vanilla, bittersweet chocolate and coconut. The finish is fresh and velvety. This is already drinking well now, but should improve over the next 10-15 years - 97 points

  • Joseph Phelps Insginia 2015 - This is a true gem from California, they make over 12,000 cases and I am impressed every time by how little variation there is bottle to bottle. Fresh fruit with secondary notes of cedar, chocolate, a little espresso and spice. The tannins and acidity are well balanced and smooth. The finish is so wonderfully layered and it just felt like a rollercoaster that never ends. I would just like to understand WS came up with 91. My favourite California Cab of the evening! 99 points

  • Ridge Monte Bello 2008 - Remarkable! 72% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28% Merlot, this is fantastic, after 10 years this is just starting to shine and still tastes so fresh. Notes of blackcurrant, blackberry, espresso, a little chocolate with a fresh, clean and long finish. Tannins are beautifully integrated and this still has a long life ahead -97 points

  • Chateau d'Yquem 2015 - This wine is stunning, just stunning. The balance is phenomenal. stewed pears, apricots, figs, pie crust, vanilla, coconut, honey, beeswax with a rich and full finish which then lingers and finishes with a soft and delicate final finish. There are no words to describe this wine. It is a 99-100 point. When I spoke to Pierre Lurton and asked if this would ever be better than the 2001, he looked at me and said yes. I asked how he knows, he smiled and just said, because I know.... now to pick up some bottles :) 99 points

Now the question is, do I go back next year? ;)

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