Grand tasting of great wines of the world

Ranjith with world renowned wine critic James Suckling.

The grand wine tasting event “Great Wines of The World 2022” held at the Grand Hyatt Erawan was an unforgettable experience for the wine lovers in Thailand to taste some of the most exciting wines currently available around the world. An extraordinary, curated selection featuring more than 150 wines by the best producers from the top wine regions in the world, all hand-picked by the world-famous wine critic James Suckling and rated above 90 points by were available for tasting. Celebrated owners and winemakers from iconic wineries were in attendance to share their valuable insights. It was a not to be missed opportunity for wine enthusiasts to meet and mingle with wine pros and who’s who in the wine world.

Obviously, it was not possible to taste all the wines on offer, but my game plan was to taste as many wines as possible working from light wines to heavier ones, starting with sparkling wines, then fresh whites and moving on to richer whites and full-bodied reds. It was helpful as the wineries were grouped by country and displayed in a suggested order of tasting. There were all styles of wines from all major wine regions to suit every palate and here are some of the outstanding ones that I particularly enjoyed.

Chateau d’Isaan Margaux 2019 from Bordeaux, an elegant & light-structured wine with lifting acid, balanced alcohol and nice length. A classic d’Issan.

Château Croix de Labrie St.-Emilion 2019 from Bordeaux. This wine has aromas of sweet berries and plums mingled with violets, orange rind and raw cocoa. Medium to full-bodied, it’s a charming, perfumed wine that will offer a broad drinking window.

Ranjith and Chitra with Tim Mondavi.

Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Castello di Brolio 2018 from Tuscany. It has spicy notes with nutmeg, cloves and hints of hazelnuts that add complexity to the black-cherry and raspberry undertones. Full-bodied, rich and layered with a velvety texture and a flavorful finish. Beautiful center palate. Very powerful and structured.

Renieri Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2016 from Tuscany, a very tight, refined Brunello that shows so much beautiful fruit polished with dark-berry, cedar, walnut and cherry character. It’s full-bodied with layers of fine tannins and a fresh, pretty finish. Needs much more time to open.

Eredi Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2016 from Tuscany. Enticingly fragrant, this wine opens with heady aromas of rose, violet, new leather, truffle, balsamic and whiffs of camphor. The elegant palate is all about finesse, Bright acidity keeps it superbly balanced and fresh. It’s already drinking beautifully but hold for even more complexity, best to between 2024–2036.

Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino Madonna del Piano Riserva 2015 from Tuscany. Spectacular aromas of crushed fruit, plums, porcini and black truffles. Full-bodied, dense and linear on the palate, yet so much in balance and refined with incredible depth and consistency. The savory and juicy finish, with vivid acidity and fruit. It is eye-opening. Greatest ever. Best after 2025, but can’t wait to try it again.

Tim Mondavi and Ranjith tasting the first vintage of Continuum at his residence in Napa Valley.

Marchesi Antinori Bolgheri Superiore Guado al Tasso 2019 from Tuscany. This is a new and improved Guado al Tasso with focused aromas of pencil shaving, white pepper and crushed stone that frame a rich core of black fruit. A fluttering of dried mint gives lift and power to the bouquet. This is a beautifully linear and powerful red blend.

Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Sergio Zenato Riserva 2016 from Veneto. This graceful, medium- to full-bodied red is finely knit and harmonious, with a pleasing juiciness to the flavors of black cherry and black plum reduction, sandalwood, citrus and brambly herbs. Shows supple, well-meshed tannins, which emerge on the lingering, spiced finish.

Catena Zapata Malbec Mendoza Argentino 2020 from Mendoza, Argentina. Perfumed and seductive nose of purple plums, blueberries, dried roses, violets, lemon zest, chocolate, truffles and cigar box. It’s full-bodied, yet so elegant and weightless. Seamless, finely knit tannins. Beautiful, lengthy finish.

Montes Carmenere Petit Verdot Valle de Colchagua Purple Angel 2019 from Valle Central Chile. One of the best and most layered carmeneres from Chile and indeed, in the world. Intriguing Cuban cigar and roasted bay-leaf character to the blackcurrants, blackberries and exotic spices. Some sandalwood, black chocolate, cedar and baked red chili pepper, too. Full-bodied, creamy and voluptuous, but still fresh and juicy, with dried-leaf, dark-olive and finely ground cocoa-powder character. Dusty tannins and a long, refined finish. A blend of 92% carmenere from Apalta (46%) and Marchigue(46%) and 8% petit verdot from Apalta. Drink or hold.

Tim Mondavi presenting a bottle of very first vintage Continuum to Ranjith in Napa Valley in 2010.

Wine can be more fun and memorable when you know the story behind the bottle. The highlight for me personally, was tasting the magnificent Continuum 2019 and catching up with Tim Mondavi whom I have known for many years. It brought back the fond memories of tasting the first vintage of Continuum with Tim at his private villa in their estate vineyard on Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley more than a decade ago.

2019 Continuum is a singularly significant vintage marking the continuous 100th harvest for the Mondavi family. A journey that has taken many forms, but step by step, generation by generation, is marked by a forward pursuit of excellence in wine. Continuum is built upon a dynamic and pioneering family history. Over more than a century, four generations of Mondavis have produced wines that continually raised the bar for quality and prestige, propelling the family name to become synonymous with the shimmering promise of California wine.

Continuum 2019 has scored 98 points from formidable wine critic Robert Parker while James Suckling has given 99 points with his tasting notes; “Blackberries, dark wet soil and blackcurrants. Graphite, too. So aromatic. Pure fruit. Full-bodied with superbly polished, fine tannins that draw you down through the center of palate. Extremely layered and the texture is so curated, giving wonderful persistence. Real plushness and fine, velvety texture. 50% cabernet sauvignon, 37% cabernet franc, 7% petit verdot and 6% merlot. Better after 2026”

Chitra is tasting the Super Tuscan Ornellaia vintage 2014 and 2019.

The 2019 Continuum showcases the highest percentage of Cabernet Franc to date revealing the volcanic site and native attributes of Sage Mountain Vineyard. A lively and expressive nose with lifted red fruit, hibiscus, and delicate floral notes. The plush entry on the palate reveals concentrated dark fruit, and youthful black mulberry interweaving with layers of savory wild herb, exotic spice, and graphite. The 2019 Continuum’s mountain fruit expression is enveloped by a supple and silky texture with velvety fine tannins and ferrous minerality. Pleasing all the way though, the 2019 Continuum is an elevated and lush dance of power and grace on the palate.

Ranjith Chandrasiri is a veteran hotelier, food and wine connoisseur, multilinguist with a wealth of knowledge and international hotel management experience in luxury hotels and iconic brands including InterContinental Hotels Group in Europe, Australia, Cambodia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. He is the Chairman of Sirius Hospitality Consulting in Thailand, former Group General Manager of Jetwing Hotels Group, Sri Lanka and Royal Cliff Hotels Group, Thailand, Founder/President of Royal Cliff Wine Club and deVine Wine Club, Bailli Honoraire (Honorary President) of Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, Pattaya, Thailand

Chitra is tasting Chateau Guiraud Sauternes 2008 and 2015.
Ranjith and Chitra catching up with Guillaume Blanchard of Banfi wines, Italy.