The Wine Advocate’s Grand World Tour 2014


Robert Parker’s publication The Wine Advocate has announced a series of events through Asia in the first phase of a planned Grand World Tour.

The Far-Eastern starting point for the Tour (which is to head later to America and Europe) is entirely appropriate. In December 2012 Parker sold a major stake in The Wine Advocate to a group of Singapore-based investors. He also stepped down as editor-in-chief to be replaced by Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, also based in Singapore. Starting in Beijing at the end of February, The Wine Advocate team will head then to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, finishing in Singapore in mid-March (no doubt to save the editor-in-chief another flight to get home…)

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, the Singapore-based Editor-in-Chief of The Wine Advocate

Each leg consists of a Masterclass and a ‘Gala Hedonists Dinner’ which are arranged on a given theme. At Singapore’s Gala Dinner, for example, a range of Italian fine wines will be served, while in Hong Kong, great Cabernet Sauvignons will be showcased. (The theme of Hong Kong’s Gala Dinner – ‘The Legends of Greatness’ – is so tautological that the theme may as well be ‘Come and Get Woozy on Excellent Wines’.)

There’s no doubt that guests are in for a treat. The wine lists overflow with some of the most highly-regarded and expensive fine wines from across the world – as well they should when ticket prices are anywhere between USD $320 and USD $1,248 per ticket.

Curiously, guests at Beijing’s Gala Dinner will be served Ausone 2005. The wine has received near-perfect scores from critics across the board, including the coveted 100 Parker Points. Why is this ‘curious’? Well, Parker’s latest tasting note indicates that the wine is ready to drink from 2030 onwards – a full 16 years away! Other critics have reckoned the drinking window will open anywhere between 2016 and 2019, but all agree that the huge, full-bodied wine needs to be kept a long time to enjoy it at its best.


Serving it at a Masterclass makes sense. These are generally more intellectual exercises, comparing wines x, y, and z all from the same region/vintage/grape and so on. But at a dinner boasting to be ‘the pinnacle of eating and drinking pleasure’, opening a wine that typically retails for around £1,500 per bottle to drink far too young might seem, well… a little wasteful? Why not serve a different wine of the same calibre that is more approachable?

The short answer is (probably) simple: Prestige. Guests will want to taste ‘The Best’ and you don’t get much more exclusive and desirable than Ausone, with its wide acclaim, very low production (only around 1,300 cases in 2005) and high prices to match. There will be no Wine Advocate Masterclass in Beijing so a wine like this needs to be slipped into the dinner session. Even if the wine will not in theory be ‘at its best’, at least guests can say they’ve tasted an example of wine making at its greatest.

I had a somewhat comparable experience (though on a VASTLY different scale) when I attended a master class hosted by Italian wine critic Daniele Cernilli (known as ‘Doctor Wine’) towards the end of last year. Among those tasted was Sassicaia 2010. This would be my first taste of the original Super Tuscan. I was excited.

However, when we finally got there my mouth was swimming with acidity – generally quite high in Italian wines – my palate had been massacred by alcohol, not to mention that the wine itself needed a good few more years in the bottle. I really didn’t get much from it at all. Did I tell people I tasted the famous Sassicaia? You bet I did.

Doctor Wine Tasting, Oct. 2013: Sassicaia 2010 bottom left.


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