Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) wine courses in Singapore for year 2011

I was sipping wine at Vintry the other day when a few at the table were inquiring about wine courses in Singapore, particularly the WSET series of wine courses. I did agree to get some info on current course providers for the year 2011 and found two in Singapore.

If you are thinking of pursuing these courses yourself, the following information may be useful :)

Oriton School shows itself for conducting 2 of the WSET courses for 2011:
b. WSET Level 2 Intermediate Certificate in Wine & Spirits 

SHATEC's Continuing Education and Training Dept conducts the following for this year:
b. WSET Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Wine & Spirits 

These wine courses are internationally recognised and needless to say, quite a few wine sommeliers and wine sales people in Singapore have pursued these courses over the last few years.

Check them out if you are seeking some wine knowledge and qualifications :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

BYO wines to Le Le Pot at Seng Poh road

Care to BYO wine to a steamboat eatery?

A few days ago, after a wine session, some of us descended upon a steamboat eatery:

Le Le Pot
58 Seng Poh Road #01-23
Singapore 160058
Tel: 62229442
(near Tiong Bahru Market)

The friendly proprietor Mr Yan Bin was around and we got to chatting with him about doing a wine and steamboat session at his place. (He is also the co-owner of Bonifacio restaurant here in Singapore). He's open to the idea of making wednesdays a BYO wine day (without any corkage fee being charged) for wine enthusiasts out there :)

The eatery will provide ice buckets for your whites and bubblies (wine types which should go well with the dishes available). You have to however bring your own wine glasses (a reasonable trade-off I think since there is no corkage involved).

On wednesdays the eatery offers a ala carte hotpot buffet at $19.80 nett for adults. This gives you the opportunity to try different dishes with the wines you bring along. Check the place out if you are a wine collector who like to bring along your own wines for dinner :)

Note to readers: It’s always good to give the establishment a ring and reconfirm its BYO policy before heading down; things in life have an impulse to change :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wines from Good Earth Winery in Nashik, India

Wines from an unexpected origin, India.  You don’t as yet see many of these in Singapore's wineshops. The last time I tasted some wines from India was during the Hong Kong Wine Exhibition two years ago.

A good friend of mine Aaron recently spent a short stint in Mumbai  and brought back two wines produced by a new winery called the Good Earth Winery. Owned by Girish Mhatre, this winery is a new addition to the wineries in Nashik, in the state of Maharashtra (India).

Founded a few years ago, 2008 is its first vintage. It does not as yet have a ‘physical presence’ (like owning its own vineyard or having its own production facility). Instead it purchases good quality grapes from farmers in Nashik (a place known for its cool micro-climate and well drained soil) and uses existing facility of another winery there to produce its wines and bottle them.

At present four wines are produced by Good Earth. In the premium Concerto collection exist the ‘Basso’ made from cabernet sauvignon and the ‘Brio’ made from shiraz. In the easy drinking Raga collection one finds the ‘Antaraa’ (a blend of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz), and the ‘Aarohi’ a white made from sauvignon blanc.

Aaron brought back the 2008 Aarohi and the 2008 Brio for us to taste and discover how these varietals show themselves in a relatively new wine region they ain’t famously known for.

2008 Good Earth Winery Aarohi, sauvignon blanc.
Made in stainless steel containers, it shows light straw yellow colour, with strong aromas of herbs and grass. It reveals a light to medium body, medium acidity, flavours of grass, herbs and guava on the palate, and possesses a short finish.

(A wine-bit: Sauvignon blanc is one of the varietals which is at ease in expressing itself differently depending on the soil composition of the region in which it is grown and the wine making style adopted. If you get the opportunity, do try sauvignon blancs from different regions like Marlborough, Adelaide Hills, Pouilly Fume and California to appreciate the different nose and palate profiles this varietal is capable of).

2008 Good Earth Winery Brio , reserve shiraz
Purple red in colour, the first nose hits you with strong aromas of a spice box with an assortment of spices, which is then later followed by black pepper and black fruit notes. Medium bodied, the flavours also follow through with pepper and ripe black fruit notes. The mid-palate and finish reveals notes of coffee and cassis. The wine has been aged a year in new oak barrels. This red needs to breathe a little in a decanter to come together and show itself.

It would be too early to say if the character profile of these wines are similar to wines produced by other producers in this region. That would require further tasting of wines from Nashik in the near future.

The current wine industry in India using international varietals such as cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc is a very young one. Though at present a handful of wineries are making their presence felt in the US and European markets, the rest need time to grow. One good thing these wineries have in their favour is a growing local market (centred at the moment within cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Goa) which possesses the means and interest to consume wine.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wine 101: the Gavi wine from Piedmont

Talk about Piedmont and its the red wines like Barolo, Barbaresco and others made from Dolcetta and Barbera which easily comes to mind. These red wines are easily accessible in Singapore and were wines which I could lay my hands on for some time. Among the Piedmont whites the first one I had the opportunity to taste was the sparkling white, Moscat d' Asti. (Quite a few consumers will attest to the popularity of 'Villa M' over here in the local market).

However the dry whites are another matter. Its only these last 4 years that I get to see more gavi and arneis wines (albeit still from a handful of producers). One reason for this positive change can be the fact that there is an increase in the number of wine importers and wine retail outlets bringing wines from non-traditional sources. Certainly good news for consumers here, I must say.

Wine-bits: Called a 'Gavi' wine it is named after a town of the same name 'Gavi', It is made exclusively using the Cortese grape varietal. This wine is produced in the Piedmont region in an area which extends from the village of Novi Ligure to the lower hills of the Ligurian Apennines, and produced in the villages of Gavi, Bosio, Novi Ligure, Francavilla Bisio, Pasturana, Parodi Ligure, Capriata d'Orba, Carrosio, San Cristoforo, Tassarlo and Serraville Scrivia. However wines labelled 'Gavi di Gavi' are produced exclusively in the village of Gavi (within the province of Alessandria).

The 2008 Bava Gavi di Gavi Cor de Chasse, DOCG. I was able to purchase a couple of bottles from Crystal Wines recently. Its not of a wine style which requires deep thoughts over its nature. Instead, one should just drink and enjoy this one. Its light, subtle, easy to approach and almost neutral. It showed straw-yellow colour with subtle flavours of citrus and grapefruit, revealed a light body made crisp with acidity and showed good balance. The finish hints at lime rind notes. Its a subtle wine which works great as an aperitif, and also as an accompaniment to food with low to moderate flavour intensity.

I tried this wine with salad, sashimi, sandwiches, aglio olio pasta and even fried oyster omelette dish from the neighbourhood hawker centre and it paired well. Brought a bottle to Sin Hoi Sai eating house at Tiong Bahru to go along with some seafood dishes there and it did not disappoint me either. It also makes for a decent drink during hot afternoons (you can easily do half a bottle on your own without feeling overwhelmed).

Next time you swing by a wine retail outlet, be adventurous and check if it retails a Gavi wine. Italy certainly has more than pinot grigio to offer in term of its whites.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wine Accessory: PVC ice bags

Its a handy bag to have. Recently I have seen these PVC ice bags being used at a few trade tastings to chill wine instead of ice buckets.

It makes a neat gift as it can be used to carry a bottle, chill it and after use you can fold it away.

I've used these a couple of times when dining at neighbourhood hawker centres with friends. Its a convenient item to have. Just buy some ice and add water into these bags and your white wines get chilled to the right temperature; and they take up less space at the table than ice buckets.

Do keep a look out for these bags next time you go shopping for wine accessories :)