James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

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Hank Victor
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James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#1 Post by Hank Victor » March 8th, 2019, 4:06 pm

Say what you want to say about the critic but Suckling's events are pretty good. This was my second year attending his Great Wines of Italy grand tasting event and it was awesome. He brought with him about 100 producers and they showcased about 200 wines. I had a free ticket and an hour to kill so I planned my routes before hand with precision. I ended up tasting around 35 wines in an hour with a focus on Barolo, here are some wines that stood out for me.

- Bruno Giacosa, Barolo, Falletto, 2015
- Arnaldo Rivera, Barolo, Ravera, 2013
- Ca del Baio, Barbaresco, Autinbej, 2015
- Fontanafredda, Barolo, Serralunga D Alba, 2014
- Cordero di Montezemolo, Barolo, Gattera

- Garbole, Amarone, Hatteso Riserva, 2009
- Garbole, Veneto, Hurlo, 2009
- Allegrini, Veronese Palazzo della Torre, 2015
- Zenato, Amarone, Classico Sergio Riserva, 2012

- Cusumano, Etna Bianco, Alta Mora 2017
- Cottanera, Enta Bianco, 2017
- Les Cretes, Chardonnay, Valle D'Acosta, Cuvee Bois, 2016
- Franz Haas, Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Manna Bianco, 2016


The Etna whites really surprised me as they were very Chablis like. For those who attended this year, which producer or wine stuck out the most for you?
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#2 Post by Todd F r e n c h » March 8th, 2019, 4:10 pm

I need to take a look next time - might be a good event. Every location sold out, so obviously they are quite successful
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#3 Post by GregT » March 9th, 2019, 2:25 pm

Super successful. It's how he makes his money. And he says his events in Asia are even bigger. He does manage to get a lot of great producers to show up and it was interesting to compare to the Tre Bicchieri event a week later. Not sure which was a better event for me - I tasted through a lot of Tuscan wines at the Suckling event as well as some interesting one-offs, more Piedmont wines at the Tre Bic.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#4 Post by J I M Nuffie!d » March 14th, 2019, 8:46 pm

Where does he hold the Italian event?

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#5 Post by GregT » March 15th, 2019, 8:18 am

Usually NYC, Chicago, LA, and San Francisco, but check his website.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#6 Post by Hank Victor » March 15th, 2019, 12:32 pm

J I M Nuffie!d wrote:
March 14th, 2019, 8:46 pm
Where does he hold the Italian event?
Miami, NYC, Chicago, Beverley Hills, San Francisco

He does a South American tasting in the Fall as well.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#7 Post by M. Chacchia » March 18th, 2019, 3:07 am

I missed this year but have been to 4 or so previously in NYC. I love the event. Well worth it, IMO.

What were they pouring for the Brunellos? 2014 was a mess but I wonder if any were shown.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#8 Post by John Kight » March 18th, 2019, 2:06 pm

Hank Victor wrote:
March 8th, 2019, 4:06 pm
...some wines that stood out for me.
- Fontanafredda, Barolo, Serralunga D Alba, 2014
- Cordero di Montezemolo, Barolo, Gattera
The Fontanafredda Barolo is always a great value, as it can usually be found in the $29-$35 range (rare for a Barolo, and especially rare for a Barolo with as much character as this one typically shows). I also like the Cordero di Montezemolo wines across the board....

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#9 Post by Neil Pith » February 25th, 2020, 5:50 pm

Not meaning to resurrect an old thread, but anyone going to the Dallas event tomorrow? I'll be there if anyone wants to meet-up. Shoot me a pm.

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#10 Post by J Cangiano » February 25th, 2020, 5:57 pm

I will be attending the Miami event next Friday. Cant beat the free wine.com tickets that are supplied to stewards members every event. Really looking forward to trying the 2015 Brunellos.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#11 Post by Neil Pith » February 25th, 2020, 6:00 pm

J Cangiano wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 5:57 pm
I will be attending the Miami event next Friday. Cant beat the free wine.com tickets that are supplied to stewards members every event. Really looking forward to trying the 2015 Brunellos.
Jesse, I've been slammed in travel and hadn't had a chance to look at the roster (it's quite extensive). Anything to keep an eye out for if you have had a chance to look at the list? Thanks!

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#12 Post by Peter Shurman » February 25th, 2020, 8:37 pm

NYC ... 3/4/20 ... IN.

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#13 Post by adam caldwell » February 25th, 2020, 9:52 pm

I’ve been getting free tickets the last few years. I find the events well run and full of Good producers with nice wines to taste. My friends and I make a night of it and grab dinner after.

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#14 Post by Tyler B rown » February 26th, 2020, 7:27 am

We’ll be at the Dallas event tonight, looks like a good lineup!

http://bit.ly/DallasCheatsheet

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#15 Post by Neil Pith » February 26th, 2020, 8:58 am

Tyler B rown wrote:
February 26th, 2020, 7:27 am
We’ll be at the Dallas event tonight, looks like a good lineup!

http://bit.ly/DallasCheatsheet
Tyler, shot you my number in a pm. Let’s meet-up tonight. Looking forward to it.

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#16 Post by Hank Victor » February 26th, 2020, 9:51 am

The Great Wines of the World event he hosted in Miami last month was ridiculous. I've been lucky enough to attend a bunch of his events for free the last two years and they're always a good time.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#17 Post by Neil Pith » February 26th, 2020, 6:43 pm

Great event! Fantastic '15 Brunellos. Might I say a bit overwhelming with the quantity of wines. For me, the Livio Sassetti 2004 Brunello was a show-stopper. Second runner up was the 2015 Tassi Brunello. Just something animalistic about it. Over 900 people at the Dallas event and was a packed house.

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#18 Post by John Kight » February 28th, 2020, 12:29 pm

Neil Pith wrote:
February 26th, 2020, 6:43 pm
For me, the Livio Sassetti 2004 Brunello was a show-stopper.
Perhaps my single favourite Brunello producer (and certainly my favourite in the "under $70" range....usually available for close to $55-$60). The '01, '04, '08 (sleeper), and '10 were all fantastic. Hopefully the '15 will be great too after a few solid-but-unexceptional vintages in '11-'14.

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#19 Post by GregT » February 28th, 2020, 1:39 pm

Going to the LA event in a few hours. As long as he's sending me tickets, I'll go to see what's up. Got to know him a bit over the years and he's apparently doing quite well with these. He gets a huge turnout and the producers get their wines in front of critics and likely purchasers.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#20 Post by Tyler B rown » February 28th, 2020, 1:59 pm

Had a great time and got to experience some terrific wines. Lines were long for the ringers, and we admittedly quickly became jaded with ‘only 95pts’ hahaha!

Well run, great turnout, and 90% direct winery staff pouring and talking their wines.

2010 valdicava brunello piano riserva was my speed. But the 15 Brunellos were excellent across the board and will get stocked!

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#21 Post by GregT » February 29th, 2020, 10:23 am

I don't know if I'll go again. It was pretty weird. I figured I would taste by region and forgot that the consumer event was the same as the trade event. So people lined up based on scores. I didn't even realize there were actually lines since the place was so jammed, but once I realized that it became a little amusing. I think you could have poured anything into most of the glasses and people wouldn't have known the dif.

That said, there were some interesting wines. A pretty good Carmenere that I'd never encountered before, a big, plummy Aglianico which seemed to be the only one there, and a few old friends that I hadn't tasted for a long time but enjoyed revisiting.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#22 Post by John Morris » February 29th, 2020, 12:36 pm

Hank's original list of wines seemed like a very odd mix -- Bruno Giacosa and Allegrini "Palazzo della Torre." ?!?
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#23 Post by T Klonoski » February 29th, 2020, 12:45 pm

His Chicago event on Monday is sold out, so these must indeed be profitable for him.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#24 Post by Mike J ewesson » February 29th, 2020, 1:07 pm

Damn good tasting. There were a ton of people at the Dallas event and I got sick of the usual numbnuts who stand and talk to the pourer for five minutes while blocking the people in the long line formed behind them waiting to taste. People have no clue.

2015 brunellos were fantastic and I concur on the excellence of the Tassi. The Luce and Ornellaia were pretty damn good also, but were bruisers. The Valdicavas were great. Monteverro was new to me and I thought it was pretty great.

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#25 Post by GregT » February 29th, 2020, 1:23 pm

T Klonoski wrote:
February 29th, 2020, 12:45 pm
His Chicago event on Monday is sold out, so these must indeed be profitable for him.
They absolutely are. I've asked him about it. He does at least one a month somewhere in the world and says the crowds in Asia are way larger than anything he gets in the US. Good for him.

I didn't taste the Allegrini wines, so can't talk about the Palazzo, but the list varies depending on the city. Most of the wines were from Tuscany somewhere, but there were others. I went through all of the Piedmont wines first and then some Cab Franc and Merlot wines from Bolgheri and a few outliers and then just spent the rest of the time tasting Tuscan wines.

There's a guy called Carlo Giacosa, who's related in some way to the old guy Giacosa, and his wines were pretty nice. The young Langhe Nebbiolo was really quite tasty and ready to go. There was an Aglianico called Nativ from a producer who's looking for an importer and I can't imagine anyone who likes expensive Napa Cabs not liking that wine. It should find an importer. Fuligni Brunello was OK and if I remember correctly I've even had dinner with her before, but that wine was given 100 points and I couldn't quite see that. The food was kind of interesting. Mostly olives served in different ways - a pile with pits and various pickled vegetables, another pile that was pitted, a tapenade, another mixed with salad greens. And weirdly and randomly, tiny sweet potato tacos.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#26 Post by George Tita » February 29th, 2020, 4:41 pm

So good news/bad news for the NYC event. I producer that I represent has been told that due to the new travel restrictions the venue, IAC NYC, is insisting that all wineries are represented by a domestic partner. Not sure how you can police this, especially since most (but not all as Il Paradiso di Frassina - my guy - chose only to participate in NYC) have already been in the USA pouring at the other events.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#27 Post by John Morris » February 29th, 2020, 7:06 pm

T Klonoski wrote:
February 29th, 2020, 12:45 pm
His Chicago event on Monday is sold out, so these must indeed be profitable for him.
On the other hand, a bunch of people have said in this thread that they were comped.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#28 Post by Tim Heaton » March 1st, 2020, 4:03 am

Producers have to pay $2500 for one event/city. It's not just ticket sales. These are massively profitable.

The 2015 Fuligni, which I've already tasted on several occasions and which I picked up from the cantina a few days ago, is in no way a 100point, i. e. perfect wine; very good, to be sure. What a racket.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#29 Post by John Morris » March 1st, 2020, 5:34 am

That's what I figured. That's common business model for all sorts of events -- the exhibitors provide most of the income. Hence the free tickets, because Suckling needs to have a good turnout. That also explains the Allegrini. Not many people would pay to taste a $15 wine.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#30 Post by Ramon C » March 1st, 2020, 7:45 am

I considered going, given that this is walking distance from work. But it's sold out and this thread with everybody going in for free does not help in enabling me as it looks like I will have to pay my way in.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#31 Post by GregT » March 1st, 2020, 11:23 am

I don't know that everyone gets in for free. If you're affiliated with the wine business you do, and I don't know the exact breakdown, but most people aren't comped. I would say it's less that 25%, just based on what happens when you get in early and then watch the "regular" crowd. And that's common to all events like these, not just the Suckling events. The exhibitors obviously pay to show their wines, which is why a lot of distributors and producers and importers don't participate in every event at every city.

And to be fair to James, they also had Conterno Bussia and Cicala, Bibi Graetz Colore, Valdecava del Piano, Giacosa Falletto Barolo and Barbaresco, and a number of others. It's an opportunity to taste things side by side or to taste things that you might not normally taste. For people who don't get to taste a lot of different wines, I can see it being worth the admission. Listening to the people, a lot of them had zero clue but some of them were pretty interested and wanted to understand what they were drinking.

And then there were the other two categories of attendees - those who wore excess cologne, perfume, lotion, etc. And the women who made it a point to show all of their assets. Over the years I've noticed that those women tend to show up at Italian tastings more than any others. I wasn't disappointed. There were two of them.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#32 Post by T Klonoski » March 1st, 2020, 12:29 pm

My understanding is that many of the "comps" are for those who subscribe to the content on Suckling's website ($145/year), so in those cases he does get something out of it.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#33 Post by John Morris » March 1st, 2020, 12:32 pm

GregT wrote:
March 1st, 2020, 11:23 am
And then there were the other two categories of attendees - those who wore excess cologne, perfume, lotion, etc.
They pay extra, I hope. A sensory disruption surcharge.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#34 Post by Peter Shurman » March 2nd, 2020, 3:58 pm

Received an event reminder email from JS @ 5PM today ... received a second email @ 630ish telling me the location has changed ... wuwt.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#35 Post by Brandon R » March 3rd, 2020, 8:32 am

Peter Shurman wrote:
March 2nd, 2020, 3:58 pm
Received an event reminder email from JS @ 5PM today ... received a second email @ 630ish telling me the location has changed ... wuwt.
I wonder if it has (had) to do with the folks running a location getting skittish about Coronavirus and canceling last-minute.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#36 Post by Peter Shurman » March 3rd, 2020, 12:22 pm

Brandon R wrote:
March 3rd, 2020, 8:32 am
Peter Shurman wrote:
March 2nd, 2020, 3:58 pm
Received an event reminder email from JS @ 5PM today ... received a second email @ 630ish telling me the location has changed ... wuwt.
I wonder if it has (had) to do with the folks running a location getting skittish about Coronavirus and canceling last-minute.
This was posted earlier in this thread by George Tita ...


So good news/bad news for the NYC event. I producer that I represent has been told that due to the new travel restrictions the venue, IAC NYC, is insisting that all wineries are represented by a domestic partner. Not sure how you can police this, especially since most (but not all as Il Paradiso di Frassina - my guy - chose only to participate in NYC) have already been in the USA pouring at the other events.


So I would agree.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#37 Post by JohnP » March 3rd, 2020, 2:46 pm

Would love to hear reviews of the top 2015 Brunellos from this tasting? I have to imagine someone was wow'd by one of JS's 100-pointers.
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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#38 Post by Peter Shurman » March 5th, 2020, 3:39 pm

Roberto Voerzio.

that is all.

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#39 Post by adam caldwell » March 5th, 2020, 9:08 pm

Peter Shurman wrote:
March 5th, 2020, 3:39 pm
Roberto Voerzio.

that is all.

[cheers.gif]
Yep at the Chicago event voerzio was pouring the 08 Barolo from Magnums. Not bad.

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Re: James Suckling: Great Wines of Italy

#40 Post by M. Chacchia » March 6th, 2020, 3:20 am

Peter Shurman wrote:
March 5th, 2020, 3:39 pm
Roberto Voerzio.

that is all.

[cheers.gif]
Knocks me out every time. My "A-ha!" moment for Barolo a few years ago (a 2004 Riserva 10 Anni Fossati Case Nere).
I have gone to 5 of the last 6 of these in NYC, and for $100-$125 it's well worth it, IMO.
I've been looking forward to the 2015 Brunello vintage since I first tried (and stocked-up on) several 2015 Rossos (now almost all consumed). This event really gives you so much to try. Way too many wines to taste, but this year I was able to get to about 70-80. I got there a little early and had to wait outside with the rest of the early birds so I got the book and map/layout and, focusing primarily on Brunello, picked the names I wanted to be sure to hit up. Missed Sassicaia & Ornellaia (lines about 6+ deep all the times I passed by) and Casanova di Neri wasn't in NY, but did get to all the others I wanted to, including the notables below (in no particular order).

Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino Vecchie Vigne 2015
Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino 2015
Renieri Brunello di Montalcino 2015
San Filippo Brunello di Montalcino Le Lucére 2015
Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino Madonna del Piano Riserva 2010
ALTESINO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2015
ALTESINO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO MONTOSOLI 2015
AMANTIS CABERNET FRANC TOSCANA IPERIONE 2015
ARGIANO TOSCANA SOLENGO 2016
BIBI GRAETZ TOSCANA TESTAMATTA 2016
BIBI GRAETZ TOSCANA COLORE 2016
BRANCAIA TOSCANA IL BLU 2015
FRESCOBALDI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO CASTELGIOCONDO 2015
GIODO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2015
LIVIO SASSETTI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2015
LIVIO SASSETTI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2004
MÁTÉ BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2015
PIO CESARE BAROLO 2015
PIO CESARE BARBARESCO 2015
PODERI ALDO CONTERNO BAROLO BUSSIA 2015
PODERI ALDO CONTERNO BAROLO CICALA 2015
ROBERTO VOERZIO BAROLO FOSSATI CASE NERE RISERVA 10 ANNI 2008
ROBERTO VOERZIO BARBERA D’ALBA POZZO DELL’ANNUNZIATA 2015
SCHIOPETTO FRIULANO COLLIO M 2018
TUA RITA TOSCANA GIUSTO DI NOTRI 2017
TUA RITA SYRAH TOSCANA PER SEMPRE 2017
UCCELLIERA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2015

There were few misses in the whole line-up. Quality abounded. Overall, the 2015 Brunello's are excellent (I'll be casting a wide net for the cellar, while keeping in mind 2016 is also an excellent vintage). The 2016 Chianti Classico's (including Gran Selezione) are also very good and worth seeking.

I just couldn't do anymore this night (164 tables were pouring 2 wines each). I missed several Barolo's which I find myself liking more and more after being a Brunello fan for so long (my palate continues to evolving). I may even hunt down a few this year, perhaps even splurging for a bottle or two of Roberto Voerzio's beautiful wines.
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