Monday, 21 November 2016

Gimblett Gravels Annual Vintage Selection 2014

Region: Gimblett Gravels


“So, how many of you have tried a New Zealand Syrah?” That question, asked by wine journalist Ch’ng Poh Tiong to a group of us gathered for a private tasting, surely made us think. Even though we were all fairly well-versed in wines, we had drunk far more Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from New Zealand than Syrah. My own experience with New Zealand Syrah came when visiting Man O' War Vineyards located on the breezy Waiheke Island, just off the Auckland coast. It was after tasting their Dreadnought Syrah that I came to appreciate why the Kiwis call it so instead of Shiraz like their Australian neighbours do. Stylistically, New Zealand has more in common with Northern Rhone than the Barossa Valley, with more restrained fruit and very often a peppery or gamey note.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Wine of the Month - November 2016

Having a few minutes to kill before dinner I decided to pop by Praelum Wine Bistro for a drink and to see what goodies they had on tap. As usual, General Manager Gerald Lu pulled out an interesting bottle from the cellar, an Italian wine hailing from the Soave zone. Made by one of the oldest families in Soave, this is their top white made from 100% Garganega (other permitted varieties include Chardonnay and Verdicchio). A lot of Soave is bland and uninteresting but I could happily polish off a bottle of this.

Wine: Pieropan "La Rocca" Soave Classico 2013

Tasting note: The vineyard is planted on chalky-clay soils as opposed to the volcanic basalt that is more common in the region, which is supposed to result in a wine with more finesse and floral notes. There is a short maceration with skin contact, and the wine is aged for about a year in barrels between 500 and 2000 litres capacity. Pale gold appearance. Dry and expressive, with notes of nutty almond, white peach and orange peel. Medium body and alcohol with great poise and vibrancy.

Monday, 7 November 2016

A Glimpse of the Swan Valley with Pinelli Wines

Producer: Pinelli Wines

Winemaker Daniel Pinelli

The best thing about visiting the Swan Valley has to be the convenience. The journey from downtown Perth to Pinelli Wines took just under twenty-five minutes and thanks to Uber, I didn’t even have to rent a car. As luck would have it, my ride was escorted most of the way by a fleet of police vehicles that waved us right past traffic lights. I noticed a car bearing the license plate 1 whizz past as I got off at Pinelli Wines, and wondered if it contained the Prime Minister or some visiting dignitaries.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

A Natural Revolution


A spontaneous get-together with some wine buddies saw us gathering at what must be the most audacious wine bar to open in recent years. Christened Wine RVLT, this bar was the result of one and a half years  planning by Ian Lim and Alvin Gho, both veterans with more than a decade in the food and beverage industry. Wine RVLT specialises in natural wines and bills itself as a “Real Bottle Bar” promising selections that are, in Ian and Alvin’s words, “living, raw, honest and natural”. It’s truly a labour of love, as both of them maintain day jobs and tend to the bar in the evenings.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Wine of the Month - October 2016

It was a great honour to be assisting Ying Hsien, Singapore's first Master of Wine, in the selection of wines for the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix this year. The discussion on what wines to include was intense but on the whole I was pleased by how well they showed on the day itself. One of the considerations which the selection panel paid careful attention to was how the food, catered by Grand Copthorne Hotel, would affect the flavours of the wine. By itself, the Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo 2012 would have been rather tannic, but paired with food it mellowed considerably allowing the fruit to shine through, especially with the roasted Angus beef and selection of aged cheeses. Attendance at the race was down markedly from the year before, which was a pity, as the organisers pulled out all the stops in delivering a great experience. On the flipside, those who did go benefited from shorter queues and easier access to the big-name acts, whose enthusiasm did not seem diminished in the slightest.

Wine: Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo 2012

Tasting note: A single-vineyard wine made from the Nebbiolo grape. The Marcenasco plot has a long history of cultivation and was already producing wine since the 12th century. This interpretation has the full-body and fierce tannins that one would expect from a Barolo, leading with classic aromas of tar, licorice and violets. The palate shows an easy harmony, following on with notes of dried fruits and bitter cherry that add a savoury element to the wine. A very well-balanced effort.

Monday, 10 October 2016

A Rosé Fit for Angels

Producer: Château d’Esclans


Is it time for rosés in Singapore to bloom? Statistics from the Vinexpo/IWSR market study this year revealed that sales of rosé wine here grew by 24.2% between 2019 and 2014. However this was from an extremely low base and rosé still represents a drop in the ocean compared with sales of white and red wine (an exception being in the sparkling wine category where rosé champagne is doing quite well). “People in Asia are maybe five to ten years late to rosé,” asserts Alex Diard, Brand Ambassador for Château d’Esclans. “Now in Europe, and even in UK and the US, rosé is everywhere. It’s insane how many people drink rosé now – not only women, everybody is drinking rosé.”

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Largest Wine Region in Australia is One You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Region: Great Southern



Think of Western Australian wine, and perhaps the region that comes to mind first is Margaret River, a disproportionate source of fine wine (it produces nearly a quarter of the country’s premium wine from about 4% of its total crush), or maybe Swan Valley, the oldest wine region in Western Australia. But there is another region on the up-and-coming, a vast and remote hinterland of vinous possibilities. In recent years those in the wine trade have been whispering about the potential of the Great Southern wine region, located at the southernmost corner of Western Australia. This roughly rectangular region spans 150km north to south and 100km east to west, making it Australia’s largest wine growing region in terms of sheer size. Yet for all its immensity, there are only around 70 producers here (by comparison Margaret River has over double that number).

Friday, 16 September 2016

A Taste of Ronda

Region: Ronda


Have you heard the one about a German, an Argentinian and a Swiss? It’s not the beginning of a pub joke, but the story of how an obscure region is attracting winemakers from around the world. Usually when tasting wines from a region new to me, I look for a degree of commonality, whether it is a grape variety or flavour profile. At this tasting though, put together by online retailer Wines of Ronda, the list of grape varieties included Viognier, Lemberger, and Zweigelt. Hardly commonplace grapes, and one would be hard-pressed to identify a region planted with these varieties as being Spanish. “The new taste of Spanish wine” was the tagline of the tasting, and very apt it is. Even though Spain is part of the Old World, it has shown tremendous courage in challenging the status quo (hello Ferran Adrià). Imagine tasting a wine made from French grapes planted in Spanish soil by a German winemaker.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Sub-regionality in Marlborough – Exploring the Southern Valleys with Auntsfield Estate

Producer: Auntsfield Estate


The feeling of déjà vu was strong at a recent tasting with Auntsfield Estate. Sub-regional characteristics in Marlborough – where had I heard that before? It was not until I examined the wine label that realisation dawned on me. The ‘A’ logo of Auntsfield Estate bears an uncanny resemblance to Astrolabe Wines, a winery also producing a range showcasing sub-regions within Marlborough. When I mention this to Auntsfield viticulturist Ben Cowley, he laughed that “Jason [the Managing Director of Astrolabe] stole it from us!”

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.