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In preparation for the most prestigious wine event of the year, there was homework to be done, and plenty of advance planning needed.  A total of 225 wineries would pour their top scoring wines in a 3-hour ceremony of Wine Spectator’s elite class.  With only enough time to cover and experience about 100 of them, the choices were challenging.  Ornellaia.  Lynch-Bages.  Casanova di Neri.  Caymus.  The list goes on.  It’s a dive head-first into the ultimate wine list of the world.  Every one of your senses is heightened and blended into a whirlwind of pleasure.  Consider it the wine mecca, and the most sacred gathering of wine aficionados worldwide.  To the public, it is an opportunity to experience wines many may not be able to afford or find.  To those in the industry, it is a chance to compare wines among peers, competitors, and to broaden the spectrum of their palates.  To us, it was, in a sense, a re-calibration of our own palates to a standard of excellence.  These are the wines that most wineries aspire to be, as so much to represent quality, elegance, finesse, and style.  With so many superb wines to taste, we decided to award the top selections by category.  All of the wines listed here received scores from Wine Spectator that range from 92-97 points:

Wine Spectator Grand Tour Las Vegas 2013

“BEST-IN-SHOW” AWARDS:

Best Bordeaux: Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac 2009

     Runner-up: Château Pontet-Canet Pauillac 2010

Best Brunello: San Felice Brunello di Montalcino Il Quercione Riserva 2006

     Runner-up: Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova 2008

Best Super Tuscan: Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia 2010 (25th Anniversary Signature)

     Runner-up: Tenuta Sette Ponti Toscano Oreno 2010

Best Sangiovese: Fontodi Colli della Toscana Centrale Flaccianello 2009

     Runner-up: Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Castello di Brolio 2008

Best Cabernet: Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Special Selection 2010

     Runner-up: HALL Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Kathryn Hall 2009

Best Pinot Noir: Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2010

     Runner-up: Flowers Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Sea View Ridge Block 20 2010

Best Rioja: Bodegas Muga Rioja Torre Muga 2009

     Runner-up: Lan Rioja Edición Limitada 2009

Best Syrah/Shiraz: Mollydooker Shiraz McLaren Vale Carnival of Love 2011

     Runner-up: Two Hands Shiraz McLaren Vale Lily’s Garden 2010

Best Malbec (tie):

Achával-Ferrer Finca Mirador Mendoza 2006

Catena Zapata Malbec Mendoza Argentino 2004

Biggest Surprise: Ernie Els Signature Stellenbosch 2008

Biggest “Wow” Factor: Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2010

Honorable mentions:

Etude Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009

Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008

Best Value: Château Brown Pessac-Léognan 2009

And the Best Overall Award of the show goes to:

CHÂTEAU LYNCH-BAGES PAUILLAC 2009 – a remarkable showing for a legendary fifth-growth Bordeaux from an epic 2009 vintage.  We had the chance to enjoy a few glasses as the show closed.  We couldn’t resist going back for more.  It was that exceptional.

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Next week we’re off to the Great Wines of Italy event in New York City where we will be tasting and reporting back with the best of Italy, from Barbaresco, to Dolcetto; from Chianti Classico to Barolo, and everything in between.  A legendary night with tastings from 107 of Italy’s top wineries with none other than the godfather of life’s finer pleasures, Mr. James Suckling.

http://www.jamessuckling.com/great-wines-of-italy-new-york-city.html

To cap off the week, it’s the Philadelphia Food & Wine Festival with over 600 of the world’s top wineries pouring nothing short of their best, and food pairings from the city’s top restaurants alongside each glass.  It’s the ultimate oenophile and foodie experience.  We’ll be there, and you can count on all the delicious details coming your way.

http://www.phillymag.com/wineandfoodfest/index.html 

But first, we travel through Oregon this week to kick off May’s Oregon Wine Month…

Stay thirsty my friends (from the most interesting wine site in the world). –JT

RWL

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