Internationally acclaimed wine critic James Suckling returns to Bangkok on December 8th to host the city’s premier wine tasting event
For wine lovers the long wait is over, as the Great Wines of Italy 2017 tasting tour will be arriving in Bangkok on December 8th, taking over the Grand Ballroom at the Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel. This will be the 4th edition of this highly-anticipated annual event, and once again acclaimed wine critic James Suckling will be here in person as the official host.
Bangkok is the last stop on Asian segment of the tasting tour—which also visits Beijing and Hong Kong—and the event will showcase Italy’s most sought-after wines, including both prestigious established brands and premium boutique wineries. The wines showcased are all hand-picked by Mr. Suckling himself, after having achieved a wine rating score of at least 90 points (out of 100) on the influential website www.jamessuckling.com.
At a special media pre-event tasting held in late October, Mr. Suckling was on hand to give some insight into what oenophiles can look forward to this year.
“We have wines from 85 producers, and 70 are coming to the event in person,” he revealed. “2015 was a great year in Tuscany so we have a lot of top wines from 2015, and there’ll be one 100 point pure Merlot from Tua Rita winery. We also have a lot of 2013 Barolos, which are great.”
At the pre-event tasting the assembled media were treated to five fabulous reds, including a 2012 Pietradolce Etna Barbagalli (95 points) made from 100-year-old vines, and a dynamic bio-dynamic 2013 Duemani Cabernet Francc Costa Della Toscana Centrale (98 points), which showed a spectacular depth and rich intensity.
The whites were also given their due during the pre-event tasting, highlighted by a superb “Tuscan white”—namely the 2013 Temute Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari Toscana La Pietra (92 points), a firm Chardonnay with notes of ripe lime and cooked apple and just a hint of marshmallow. Another white of note was the 2016 Nals Margreid Pinot Blanco Alto Adige Sirmian (95 points), and interestingly this year’s event will also feature a screening of Mr. Suckling’s new documentary entitled Great Wines of Italy: Alto Adige’s Vineyards in the Sky, which was filmed this past summer by noted Hollywood director James Orr. The movie, which makes ample use of drone photography, focuses on the wineries and vineyards located in the stunning scenic region of Northeast Italy.
“At my events it’s about more than just tasting wine,” Mr. Suckling added. “We even have Surahn Sidhu, ex-lead guitarist of the band Empire of the Sun, as the DJ. He curates all my music at my events around the globe, and the playlist goes onto Spotify so you can listen to it after the show. What we try to do is to create an experience—it’s more than just an academic tasting.”
Last year, over 1,200 people attended the Great Wines of Italy event and this year’s turnout should be just as impressive.
“It’s really amazing how its changed in four years,” remarked Mr. Suckling. “Wine producers are coming to Thailand now. Before wine producers would say Thailand was too small a market, but now they’ve seen the turnout and they understand it’s a growth market, and that people are drinking wine here. Thailand has become a real destination for wine makers.”
So are there already plans afoot for more wine events in 2018? “Next year we might do Chile and Argentina, the great wines of the Andes,” the affable expert announced. “They represent great value.”
Tickets for the Great Wines of Italy 2017 are B1,299 each. For more information visit: www.jamessuckling.com/events/great-wines-italy-bangkok-2017
NOTE: On December 9th, the day after the Bangkok event, a much less formal “chill out” tasting session will be held at The Nai Harn resort in Phuket. The hotel, which opened in 2016, actually has a wine list personally curated by Mr. Suckling, so it’s an obvious spot to wrap up the 2017 tasting tour.
By Bruce Scott