Sunday, 31 July 2016

Stepping Up to the Michelin Standard

Last month was a big month for Singapore on the F&B scene. I’m speaking of course about the launch of the Michelin guide here, the first time a Southeast Asian nation has been included in the guide. Twenty two restaurants bagged a one star rating, a further six received two stars and the coveted three star rating was bestowed upon Joël Robuchon at Resorts World Sentosa. It’s a testament to the cosmopolitan mix of eateries in Singapore, and will undoubtedly boost tourism and fan interest in the dining scene. Already some of the restaurants are reporting increased bookings, and the two hawker stalls that received a one star rating have seen snaking queues. Even restaurants that did not make it into the guide are benefitting from a halo effect, a welcome reversal from the first half of this year where business was rather slow.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Wine of the Month - June 2016

This month's WOTM was taken from a recent tasting. Kaiken Wines is the Argentinian arm of Chilean-based Montes Wines, headed by winemakers Aurelio Montes Jr. and Rogelio Rabino. This was an interesting bottle because it was made entirely from Cabernet Franc, touted as the next big thing from Argentina. Total acreage is still low - according to a report from Decanter earlier this year only about 700 ha of the country's 200,000 ha of vineyards are planted with this variety. Aurelio Montes Jr. says that Cabernet Franc represents the "feminine side of Argentina". Compared to Malbec, it is more "refined and elegant, a little lighter in the mouth but with lots of complexity".

Wine: Kaiken Obertura 2014 

Tasting note: The second vintage of this wine produced by Kaiken. Deep ruby appearance with Mediterranean herbs, tobacco, a floral accent and light gaminess. Flavours on the palate reveal red cranberry and dark fruits, with perfect ripeness. It all adds up to an elegant tapestry of flavours and a very good showing for this variety.

Sustainability and future-proofing – A tasting with Aurelio Montes Jr.

Producer: Montes Wines, Kaiken Wines

When Aurelio Montes Jr. crossed the border from Chile to Argentina to manage Kaiken Wines, he thought that he would throw a barbeque with the aim of getting to know his new neighbours. So he budgeted according to a typical meal in his native country; with some empanadas, side dishes and 250gm of meat per person. Within half an hour of his guests arriving however, all the meat was gone, and that was when he learnt; “If you want to invite someone home, you have to prepare one kilo of meat per person. Doesn’t matter if it’s man, woman, or child. And forget about salad.”

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Wine of the Month - May 2016

The Hospices de Beaune is a hospital established in 1443 to treat the sick and poor funded by an annual wine charity sale that takes place on the third Sunday of each November. The wines are sold in barrel and aged by an appointed négociant. Each wine is dedicated to the benefactor who gifted the vineyard to the Hospices. This particular wine came from a barrel sold as the Pièce du Président, with proceeds going to the Carla  Bruni-Sarkozy Foundation and the idée Foundation which supports literacy and epileptic treatments respectively.

Wine: Hospices de Beaune Corton Grand Cru Charlotte Dumay 2012

Tasting note: Pinot Noir from Burgundy can often reach lofty heights, but this wine takes its place among the stars. Sublimely sleek, soft and perfumed, this wine flows around the palate with rounded acidity and a feather-light texture. The flavours are intense and energetic, showing spice, juicy redcurrants and sumptuous red cherries. Absolutely electrifying. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Cocktail Festival at Singapore Changi Airport

From now until 30th June, the DFS Cocktail Festival is taking place at the DFS Wines and Spirits Duplex at Changi Airport Terminal 3. Travellers flying out of that terminal can enjoy mini masterclasses, locally-inspired cocktails and flairing performances for free. Each weekend features a guest bartender from Singapore's vibrant bar scene who will be showcasing a cocktail exclusively created for the festival. These bespoke cocktails will only be available from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm during the two days the guest bartender is at the festival. The lineup is as follows:

Jigger & Pony featuring Christyne Lee: May 27 & 28
Manhattan featuring Philip Bischoff: June 10 & 11
The Library featuring Adam ‘Eddy’ Bursik: June 17 & 18
Smoke & Mirrors featuring Byron Tan: June 24 & 25

In addition, a party hosted by Veuve Clicquot will be held on June 3 & 4 showcasing cocktails made with Veuve Clicquot Rich, a sweeter-style champagne specifically made for mixing.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Proseccos from Villa Sandi

Producer: Villa Sandi

As the train rolled in to the next stop in Singapore, I noticed something peculiar. The electronic route map inside the train was indicating that we had arrived at Paya Lebar, while the station signs read Eunos. Meanwhile the automated announcement was assuring passengers that we had stopped at Tanah Merah. Later during the day, as I spoke with Laura Dassiè, I inwardly wondered if she too wished that she could be at several places at the same time. As the Export Area Manager for Villa Sandi, her travel schedule is physically demanding, and the mental effort required to be promoting wines the entire day no less punishing.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Wine of the Month - April 2016

Hot climate = low acidity. That's one of the truisms of winemaking. Unless you're talking about Assyrtiko from the Greek island of Santorini, where the volcanic soil helps the grape maintain its acidity even as it ripens. Courtesy of a civilisation-wiping volcanic eruption thousands of years ago, the whole island is blanketed with this porous, sandy soil, making the wines a great expression of terroir.

Wine: Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko 2013

Tasting note: Crisp, citrussy and full-bodied, the standout character of this wine is its ability to combine high levels of alcohol with piercing acidity. There's a touch of honey to the crystal clear nectarine and mandarin orange fruit. Considerable undervalued, although getting hold of a bottle is as difficult as completing the twelve labours of Hercules.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Black to Basics

Producer: Black Estate

It’s comforting to know that despite increasing decrepitude I can still muster enough energy to do the things I want before losing the ability to distinguish a Pouilly-Fuissé from a Pouilly-Fumé. While visiting the South Island of New Zealand, the timing was perfect to squeeze in a refreshing morning swim with wild dolphins in Kaikoura before driving one and a half hours to Waipara for an appointment with Black Estate. There was scarce time to admire the coastline but I did manage to get a few shots of the ruggedly beautiful scenery at one of the thoughtfully placed pitstops along the way. Road accidents, many caused by driver fatigue, is taken seriously here.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Hennessy X.O. Collection by Tom Dixon

Producer: Hennessy

The reveal of the final Hennessy X.O. Exclusive Collection in Singapore last month marked several milestones in the company’s history. Not only does it commemorate Hennessy’s 250th anniversary, but it also marks a turning point in the company’s fortunes, which had seen a decline since China implemented anti-austerity measures in 2012. The mood at the launch, held at Szechuan restaurant Shisen Hanten at the Mandarin Orchard, was (to use a forced pun) decidedly spirited. Ian McLernon, Director & General Manager of Moët Hennessy Diageo Singapore was all smiles as he reported on the health of the company. “We’ve had an exceptional 2015, and to be very honest with you quite often we’re running out of stock. With these very old eau-de-vies, we can’t produce any more.”

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Wine of the Month - March 2016

Has affordable Burgundy become an oxymoron? The past few years have seen auction houses rubbing their hands with glee at the records being broken for cases of grand cru wines. According to Bloomberg, Burgundy vineyards are now the most expensive in France, outdoing even Bordeaux and Champagne. Look a little closer though and there are still pockets of value to be found, and you need not shell out thousands of dollars for a great wine.

The caveat though is that we're talking about white wines, specifically Chablis. Called "the best-value white burgundy of all" by wine expert Jancis Robinson, it is possible to obtain grand cru Chablis for less than SGD100. This month's WOTM is made by négociant Albert Bichot, coming from their own estate of Château Long-Depaquit. The estate was founded in 1791 and managed by winemaker Matthieu Mangenot.

Wine: Maison Albert Bichot Château Long-Depaquit "Les Blanchots" 2014

Tasting note: The Blanchots grand cru is a steep vineyard that receives predominant morning sunlight. This, combined with the Kimmeridgian limestone soils, gives the wine its rare delicacy. The pure aromas of lemon, oyster shell and custard blossom with pinpoint precision on the tongue, filling the palate with generous fruit and a lengthy finish. The slightest hint of vanilla is present - the wine sees vinification in only 15% oak barrels previously used 1-4 times.