Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Epicurio Wine & Spirits phone app

It’s like a mall you go to. You find different retailers selling their products in a mall. You can browse, window shop, get some information on products and purchase them if you are inclined. You can also see what others purchase, hear their opinions and even share your own views if you can spare the time. Now you get to do all this without the need to actually visit a mall. Just using your smartphone will suffice; and you get the added benefit of getting your purchases delivered to your doorstep.


The local wine business is certainly keeping up with changing times. Evolving from brick and mortar business entities to one employing websites, ecommerce , email marketing and social media; now the retail scene boundary is yet pushed slightly further to newer grounds by the introduction of a smartphone app called Epicurio wine & spirits. Clement Hochart, it’s co-founder and CEO, is offering a new way for local wine consumers in Singapore to purchase their wine as well as interact with other fellow wine enthusiasts.

Clement Hochart
The first version of this app (showing basically wine news and tasting notes) was launched in Oct 2014. The current improved version (version 2), launched in Nov 2015, can be used in both Android and IOS platforms; and includes Cart feature, Timeline, Personal Wine Note Page etc. Now you can keep a log of the wines you’ve tasted as well (any wines you’ve tasted; need not be those bought via the Epicurio app alone). You can locate the link to this app at:
www.epicurio.co/app


On one side this online social wine platform provides local wine merchants an opportunity to tap the online market without the need for them to setup, update and maintain their own ecommerce presence and facility (something which can be time consuming and costly). Merchants can concentrate on their core business efforts and leave the online sales part to the Epicurio team. Going by present status, Clement highlights that slightly over 20 merchants are presently using the Epicurio wine platform to sell their products. Over 1,500 wine labels are currently showcased in Epicurio. Most wines are priced between $30-$100 per bottle (though some can go as low as $20 or as high as $6000 per bottle).

Looking at the consumer side, wine customers now have the ease of using an apps on their phone to browse and buy wines from different local wine merchants via just one platform. On customer usage, Clement comments that over this one year period, Epicuro has gained around 6,000 members; with 1,500 monthly users who use the site to purchase wines and contribute tasting notes.

For those who prefer to go the website and ecommerce way; you can still view and purchase these wines at www.epicurio.co. Credit cards, Paypal or Cash on delivery can be used locally to undertake a purchase. For purchase above $50, free delivery is also offered . You get the luxury of buying and receiving a few bottles, or a case of wine or wines in big format right at your doorstep.

Epicurio also organizes monthly wine tasting sessions which wine enthusiasts can attend to gain wine knowledge, taste wines and interact with other like-minded enthusiasts. For more information on this app, you can contact Clement Hochart via:
Tel: +6581794687
Email: clement.hochart@epicurio.co
Website: www.epicurio.co

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Thomas Barton Reserve Wines Tasting

Jonathan Lament (the Area Sales Manager – South Asia & Oceania of Barton & Guestier) was good enough to extend an invite to the launch of Thomas Barton Reserve wines at Tippling Club. The Barton & Guestier company has a long association and history with Bordeaux wines; an history going back to the beginning of the 19th century. The Thomas Barton Reserve series are presently represented in Singapore by Letat Agencies (Tel: 62200333; enquiry@letat.com.sg)


Jonathan Lament
 
Seven wines were showcased during this tasting:


Thomas Barton Reserve Graves Blanc 2014 A Sauvignon blanc-Semillon blend. A fresh, lively sip. What struck me about this wine is the lovely mouthfeel it offers; a roundness and suppleness noticeable in palate (certainly not a lean, mean sip). Mineral and citrus flavours show in palate with lively acidity providing freshness and a lingering finish.

Thomas Barton Reserve Bordeaux 2012 A Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Black cherry and spice aromas show in the nose. Noticeable soft body with a supple texture; and a good depth reveals in the palate. A youthful sip with primary notes of ripe berry flavour and spice.

Thomas Barton Reserve St Emilion 2012 A little shy on the nose when I tasted this one. Expresses more on the palate with primary notes of dark cherry; shows a soft body with smooth texture; tannins display a little grip in the edges with acidity providing balance. Youthful, yet approachable.


Thomas Barton Reserve St Julien 2011 Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc and Petite Verdot. Shows a gentle nose and a mellow body of cherry and berries in mid-palate. Soft tannins make this sip approachable and pleasant.

Thomas Barton Reserve Margaux 2006 Blend of Cab Sauvignon and Merlot. A sip with black cherry and spice notes in good intensity; shows a noticeable aftertaste.

Thomas Barton Reserve Privee Medoc 2005 Equal parts of Cab Sauvignon and Merlot. An elegant sip. (I must confess this was my favourite sip among the red wines for this tasting). It’s difficult not to be like this wine. Great aromatics (berry, spice, cassis and oak elements show easily) charm the drinker with layers of aroma. This is accompanied by a palate revealing a soft, smooth, very well integrated wine in an elegant body; a sip with some finesse. It charms you with great texture. This sip had the sommeliers present nodding with pleasure and murmuring approval; and going for a second taste as well.

Thomas Barton Reserve Sauternes 2009 A Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend. Good aromatics; ripe fruits (like pineapple, apricot and mango) show with ease. The sweetness in the palate is not cloying; a good amount of acidity takes care of that in the body.


What I enjoyed with these Bordeaux wines was the ‘approachability’ factor. You can go beyond the tannins and appreciate the fruit flavours; the smooth (and at times velvety texture experienced in palate) was another pleasing point. You can approach these wines now with some food or age them further for a future encounter.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Singapore Best Sommelier in French Wines 2015

They came to show their knowledge on French wines, showcase their wine service skills and prove they were a cut above their fellow sommeliers :)

It was the Singapore Best Sommelier in French Wines 2015 competition and local sommeliers came to prove their mettle. This event held on 9 Sep 2015 (at Raffles Hotel) was organized by Sopexa.


The preliminary round saw 10 contestants taking part in the trials. Four were selected to compete in the final round. They were: Alan Kok Koong Au (from Iggys), Alvin Goh (from MBS), Inthran Ramasamy (from Mandarin Oriental) and Jacques Chua Shu Hui (from 1855 The Bottle Shop).

Judges called upon to assess these contestants were:
Jean-Pascal Paubert, MS
Yohann Jousselin, MS
Tan Ying Hsien, MW
Julien Drevon
Roderic Proniewski
Stephanie Rigourd
Cecilia Goh, and
Khean Hooi Goh

Witnessed by a roomful of fellow members from the local wine industry, the finalists were assessed on the following :
- Opening and serving sparkling wine.
- Aperitif service.
- Decanting and serving red wine.
- Identifying wine in a blind tasting format.
- Identifying flaws in a wine list and correcting them.

Alvin Goh

Alan Au

Jacques Chua

Inthran Ramasany

Seeing these contestants compete, one has to realize that it is one thing having some wine knowledge to cope with the weekly indulgence of drinking wines with friends and discussing what the wine in the glass reveals; but it is totally a different ball game having to handle wine service while at the same time holding a conversation with wine judges and promptly answering their calculated queries. You need knowledge and skill, but more than that, a degree of confidence, flair and suave factor to do the ‘sommelier dance’ around the table of judges and impress them... not forgetting the roomful of industry folks who quietly watch your every move and listen to every word uttered.

After a rigorous afternoon, the winners were announced as follows:
- Alvin Goh (winner), Marina Bay Sands
- Alan Kok Hoong Au (1st runner-up), Iggys
- Jacques Chua Shu Hui (finalist), 1855 The Bottle Shop
- Inthran Ramasamy (finalist), Mandarin Oriental


Prior to announcing the winners , the judges in their comments highlighted that the contestants showed good knowledge and enthusiasm but will have to take note on being calm (keeping their cool) and  to work within the allotted time for each task. Another point which was highlighted was on the need to listen carefully to the instructions given so that contestants take note of what exactly is required of them (and not waste time on things which does not gain them points).

The winner Alvin Goh and runner-up Alan Au will go on to attend a similar competition on 9 Dec 2015 in Kuala Lumpur; this time held at the Asian level. Its called the Asia Best Sommelier Competition in French Wines 2015. Other countries participating in this competition will be Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Korea (and Macao to be confirmed).

Needless to say, they have the wishes of the local wine industry folks for the upcoming competition!

Pictures of this competition can be viewed via this link:
Photos of the Singapore Best Sommelier in French Wines 2015



Thursday, October 15, 2015

Discovering Bodegas Emilio Moro wines over dinner

The Formula One race was held in Singapore recently on 20 Sept and that brought Jose Moro of Bodegas Emilio Moro and his brand Ambassador Ms Marta Valdespino to Singapore for a visit. Over dinner, they took the opportunity to introduce some of their wines.

Jose Moro & Marta Valdespino

The Bodegas and its dinner wines

Bodegas Emilio Moro is located in the province of Valladolid, within the wine region of Ribera del Duero, northern Spain. Since 1982 when Ribera del Duero gained the Denominación de Origen (D.O.) status, the wine scene in this region has notably increased. Where once existed a handful of wineries; the number has grown to at least 250 now.

The Emilio Moro estate (located in the village of Pesquera de Duero) first commercially launched wines under its estate label in 1989; however, this family has been involved in winemaking for 3 generations over a span of more than a hundred years.

Over dinner we tasted 4 wines from its portfolio:
Bodegas Emilio Moro 2013
Bodegas Emilio Moro Malleolus 2011
Bodegas Cepa 21 2009
Bodegas Cepa 21 Malabrigo 2010

The Emilio Moro series

Ms Marta explained that the first 2 wines come from its winery located on the northern bank of the Duero river. Here Tinto Fino vines grow under a continental climate condition. Low precipitations with spring rains, dry summers, long and harsh winters and a sharp fluctuation between day/night temperature contribute to the slow maturation of grapes giving grapes an opportunity to attain physiological ripeness. The soil composition in this area is by and large made up of chalk, clay and gravels. Vines grown in various sub-plots (of differing soil composition) contribute their own personality to the end wine in the bottle.

Ms Marta Valdespino on Emilio Moro wines
 
The Emilio Moro 2013 is produced from vines which are between 15 and 25 years old. The crushed grapes go through 12 days of maceration on skin. The resulting wine is aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels.

The Emilio Moro Malleolus 2011 comes from vines which are between 25 and seventy-five years old. It goes through 18 days of maceration on skin and is aged for 18 months in Allier French oak barrels. (The Malleolus was first launched in 1998).

The Cepa 21 series

The Cepa 21 wines come from a new project by the Emilio Moro family. Inaugurated in 2007, this winery is located on the southern bank of the Duero River on a 50h land. The location offers one of the coldest terrior in Ribera del Douro. It holds a northern orientation with soil types ranging from loam, chalky, clay and stony.

Cepa 21 2009 comes from grapes grown at an altitude between 850m and 900m. Grapes go through 18 days maceration on skin; and resulting wine is aged 12 months in French and American oak barrels.

Cepa 21 Malabrigo 2010 contains grapes which come from a single estate vineyard. Grapes go through 26 days of maceration and resulting wine spends 18 months in French oak barrels. (The 2010 vintage is its first release).

Glasses and Wines

I tasted these wines in both Bordeaux and Burgundy glasses; and at least for my palate, I preferred the showing in the burgundy glass. It revealed better the aromatics and displayed a smooth, supple mouthfeel when tasted in the latter glass. A little aeration certainly helps to reveal the flavour profile and nuances within these wines as well; a little patience definitely helps with these wines.

Bodegas Emilio Moro 2013 is a clean, fresh sip with black cherry and spice notes showing upfront. In a burgundy glass, it shows itself as a smooth, soft and elegant wine with good acidity balancing the fruit. A youthful sip to be enjoyed for the fruit presence and freshness at this moment.

Bodegas Emilio Moro Malleolus 2011 displayed more in terms of aromatics (berries, balsamic, spice, hint of tobacco). Certainly holds a rich mouthfeel and an opulent body with ripe fruit presence. Tannins are noticeable in the fringes but not harsh.

Bodegas Cepa 21 2009. Another wine with a good showing of aromatics (can just relax and enjoy the nose). It’s backed by a palate revealing an elegant, supple mouthfeel with a good balance of black fruits, spice, acidity providing liveliness and a noticeable tannin presence giving structure to the body. Good aftertaste. Something to sip and savour.

Bodegas Cepa 21 Malabrigo 2010. An age worthy sip. It holds a good concentration of fruits, minerality, acidity and fine tannins. It will be interesting to revisit this sip 8-10 years down the line as it shows a potential to gain complexity.

Market & Local Contact

The Emilio Moro wines have a good following in Spain itself where 70% of annual production is consumed. Three big export markets are the Americas and Europe. Presently these wines are exported to more than 50 countries. In Asia, they can be found in countries like Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore.

They have been in Singapore for around 4 years now. Alfa International Pte Ltd is currently the local distributor and you can find these wines at ewineasia.com.

More more pictures of this dinner, you can check the following link: An Emilio Moro tasting and dinner.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Quiet Achievers in the local wine scene

When someone in a group, village or tribe achieves something the rest have not attained or tried to venture at, it calls for recognition, even celebration. Such individuals not only act as figures of inspiration and motivation; more importantly, they make individuals believe that the said act is achievable by others (themselves included) in the future. It creates hope, it encourages confidence. The first person to achieve something worthy causes a paradigm shift in the way the rest in the tribe think; on what can be achieved and what still lies beyond one’s reach.

Recent times have witnessed a few such achievers within Singapore in the field of wine knowledge and education. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few of these individuals during recent wine tasting sessions and wine events. Their achievements not only do the Singapore tribe proud; more importantly, they act to inspire others pursuing wine education as well.

The first local Certified Wine Educator (CWE) in Singapore

Joshua Kalinan, I had the opportunity to meet him during a trade tasting event organized by WineStore Singapore recently. He has successfully completed the Certified Wine Educator certification awarded by the Society of Wine Educators (USA) in 2014.

Joshua Kalinan
 
Locally, the Society of Wine Educators wine courses have been well received by sommeliers and serious wine consumers in recent years. The first level, Certified Specialist of Wine program, is a challenge for many to attain in the first try itself. Needless to say, certification in the second level (the CWE) comes with much effort, perseverance and dedication. Joshua is also a Certified Wine Professional (CWP) under The Culinary Institute of America and a Certified Sake Sommelier (awarded by the Sake Sommelier Association United Kingdom).

The first local Ambassador of Italian Wines (Vinitaly International)

Chan Wai Xin (a popular and passionate wine educator well known to many in the local wine scene) became the first person here to be awarded the Ambassador of Italian Wines certification under Vinitaly International Academy in 2014.

Chan Wai Xin
 
55 candidates from 17 countries took part in this first intake. Only 26 candidates from 11 countries qualified to become VIA’s first batch of Ambassadors. Wai Xin is also a Certified Specialist in Wine (SWE) and has certification under the French Wine Scholar program.

The first local Master of Wine (Institute of Masters of Wine)

Tan Ying Hsien
 

This credit goes to Tan Ying Hsien who recently became the first Singaporean Master of Wine (MW). This certification is awarded by the Institute of Masters of Wine (London) and it goes without saying that it is one of the most rigorous certification and a prestigious award to attain in the world of wine. Less than 400 people in the world have been certified as an MW and it is heartening to see one coming from this little island of ours.

Good role models I must say!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Official Launch of RedMart Marketplace

The official launch of Redmart Marketplace. I was curious about this e-commerce platform as apart from groceries and household items, wines are sold here as well.



Model in brief
Roger Egan (co-founder and CEO) and his team explained that the ‘Marketplace’ concept allows independent merchants (retailers, wholesalers and distributors alike) to list and sell their products via the Marketplace e-commerce platform to RedMart’s customers.

Roger Egan of RedMart




Individual merchants save on time and resources as they do not need to go through the rigours of setting up, running and maintaining their own e-commerce sites. Merchants are also able to tap onto RedMart’s customer base for orders and the latter’s logistics support to get their goods delivered to customers.

The RedMart customers get the convenience of placing their orders at one site (rather than needing to visit several e-commerce sites run by individual merchants) and importantly, the benefit of getting their orders consolidated and delivered to their doorstep.

The Wine Angle
During this launch, I saw several established local wine merchants who are participating in RedMart Marketplace’s e-commerce platform; namely, The Straits Wine Company, Cellarmaster Wines, Angra Wine & Spirits, Weindepot Singapore and Carecci & Figli Trading. (The media kit also showed other participating wine merchants; namely Enoteca, VCT and Hai Choo Wines).

The Cellarmaster team

Nelson from WeinDepot
Rep from The Straits Wine Company

The Carecci & Figli team

Most of these wine merchants have been around in the local wine scene for some time. While a few have retail presence, most others sell to F&B outlets, clubs and direct customers. The RedMart’s Marketplace option provides an interesting avenue to reach local wine consumers I believe.

The breakdown of RedMart’s current sales show 20% of present sales done are under ‘alcoholic products’ (wines naturally included within this category). It points to a consumer base which already uses the Marketplace e-commerce platform for purchase of alcoholic beverages. A promising sign for participating merchants.

More pictures of this launch can be viewed via the following link: Launch of RedMart Marketplace

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Ascheri Wines Tasting in Singapore

Serge Leveque, export manager of Ascheri wines, was in town recently to showcase several wines from this winery. This tasting was organized by The Italian Wine List (the local distributor of this label) for local wine professionals. It was held at Praelum Wine Bistro.

Serge Leveque
 
A brief background on Ascheri Winery
Serge Leveque explained that this winery first took roots in the La Morra region of Piedmont (at an area which went by the name 'Ascheri' as well) in the 19th century. In 1880, this winery and it’s cellars were shifted to Bra. (Back then Bra was an important distribution centre for Barolo wines and the owners of Ascheri Winery thought it made good sense to be closer to an important wine distribution centre.)  A hotel and restaurant was added to the winery at a later stage so that wine consumers can have a 'closer bond' and experience with Ascheri wines.



At present there are 3 vineyards producing grapes for the winery. The first one at La Morra grows Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetta varietals. The second one at Bra grows mostly Syrah and Viognier varietals. Finally the last one at Serralunga (at Alba) yields Nebbiolo and Dolcetta varietals. Annual production at present is around 150,000 bottles. In Asia, Ascheri wines are exported to countries like Thailand, Malaysia, mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.

During past wine meets with friends and at trade tastings, I've had the opportunity to taste both the Ascheri whites (Gavi and Arneis). Though of different vintages (than those shown during this trade tasting), these wines by and large display crisp, soft, approachable styles with subtle aromatic qualities (leaning more towards restrained elegance rather than being bold or upfront); pleasant wines for hot afternoons and evenings I must say.


During this session we had the opportunity to taste the following wines:

2014 Cristina Ascheri Gavi di Gavi DOCG (100% Cortese varietal).
Fermentation occurs for 10 days in stainless steel tanks. Aging occurs for 4 months in steel tanks, followed by minimum 2 months in bottle. Light yellow colour with green tints. A fresh, clean nose with pleasant, floral aromas. A light bodied wine; offering a refreshing body with crisp acidity present in palate. It's a wine which reveals a degree of lightness and delicate constitution.

2013 Cristina Ascheri Arneis delle Langhe DOC (100% Arneis varietal).
The winemaking process is similar to that of the Gavi wine. A straw-yellow colour with green tints. Floral aroma; with palate showing minerality and stone fruit notes; reveals bitter notes in finish. Shows a good body weight and noticeable mouthfeel.

2011 Ascheri Barbera d’Alba le Fontanelle DOC (100% Barbera varietal).
Fermentation takes place for about 10 days. Aging occurs for 6 months in Slavonian oak (75%new, 25% old); followed by minimum 4 months in bottle. Ruby red colour. Ripe berry aromas with violet hint. Body shows black berries, plum and spice flavours. An integrated sip which shows approachability in palate.

2010 Ascheri Barbaresco DOCG (100% Nebbiolo varietal).
Fermentation takes around 12 days; followed by aging in steel tanks for 12 months and a further 18 months in Slavonian oak barrels (40% old oak and 60% new oak). Ruby red colour with garnet highlights. Aromas showing floral and spicy notes. Medium bodied wine in palate. Shows a soft, smooth textured wine with red berries, bitter and sour highlights (tannin and acidity at play); a rustic style of wine.

2010 Ascheri Barolo “Sorano” DOCG (100% Nebbiolo varietal).
Fermentation takes around 15 days. Aging occurs 6 months in steel tanks, 28 months in Slavonian oak (85% old; 15% new) and minimum 10 months in bottle. A garnet colour. A scented bouquet with floral, spice and tar aromas. Palate shows a good balance between the components; berry fruit, leather and spice notes; a smooth texture with a supple mouthfeel. Acidity adds a vibrant dimension to the palate. Wine with aging potential.

2004 Barolo “Sorano Coste & Bricco” DOCG (100% Nebbiolo varietal).
Fermentation takes around 15 days. Aging occurs 6 months in steel tanks, 28 months in Slavonian oak (60% old, 40 % new) and minimum 10 months in bottle. A garnet colour. Lovely aromas of spice, floral, leather and liquorice hints. An integrated wine with a smooth texture, manageable tannins and noticeable acidity; displays an elegant nature about it. Elements are harmonious with a rustic appeal.

For more infomation on these wines, you can contact the local distributor and event organizer:

The Italian Wine List, Tel: 63149473 (info@theitalianwinelist.com.sg; pierluigi.ferrari@theitalianwinelist.com.sg)

For pictures of this tasting, you can visit the following link: Ascheri Tasting

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Castilla-La Mancha Gourmet Food and Wine Expo in Singapore

When you frequently attend wine fairs and see the offerings from particular wine regions, there is a tendency to form an idea on the types of wine which will be exhibited and grape varietals most likely to be used in similar wines in future wine events.

The mind also tends to quickly detect anomalies from these perceived notions when reality throws something a little different. The Castilla-La Mancha event presented such a situation.



Upon entering the event room, it was the wines at Bodegas Vidal del Saz's wine table which quickly caught my eyes. Some of the 'for bubbly shaped' bottles contained wines in amber-red, silver and deep lemon-yellow colours. Colours strikingly unusual to see in wines that the mind takes quick notice of the anomaly and moves you towards the table.

Bodegas Vidal del Saz
 
A tasting showed they were sparkling wines with an off dry nature. The representative at the table explained that macabeo (viura) varietal is used for these wines. Fermentation is halted midway to retain some sweetness and exhibit low alcohol. (But the mind persists with curiosity; that's not the colour of a normal macabeo 'white' wine it contends; be it sparkling or still). The merchant explained that a colouring is added to these wines to give the eye catching, fun colours. The wines are Mavam Gold Fusion Fortune, Mavam Gold Fusion Vulcano and Mavam Gold Fusion Glaciar. These are meant to be a fun sips; party drinks made to be pleasant, light bodied, easy and approachable. Something certainly different.

Creative wine labels capture one's eyes as well and make the wines stand out among tables of wine bottles. Bodegas Isidro Milagro showcased a range of such wines; 2 whites and 2 reds. A little creative effort certainly goes some way to capture one's attention.

Bodegas Isidro Milagro
 
Among the white wines exhibited, I was looking forward to a good measure of Airen. (This is the La Mancha wine region after all). There was indeed; but equally there was a good representation from other white varietals like Verdejo, Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc as well.

For the reds, Tempranillo based wines were easily noticeable among the tables; either as a single varietal wine or showing in blends with varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah also appeared as single varietal wines. What was pleasantly surprising was seeing winemakers exhibiting single varietal Petit Verdot wines; namely, Bodegas San Dionisio, Capilla del Fraile and Dominio de Punctum (not a common finding at wine events).

Dominio de Punctum stood out during this event for their organic and biodynamic wines. Dehesa de Los Llanos (famous for its award winning artisan Manchego cheese) showcased some of its back vintages; giving trade professionals an idea of how well made wines mature given time.

Dehesa de Los Llanos
 

More pictures of event can be viewed at: Photo Album for Castilla-La Mancha event.

Here's a list of participants of this event:
Bodegas Verum
Finca El Refugio
Bodegas Vidal del Saz
Dehesa de Los Llanos
Bodegas San Dionisio
Aceites Olimpo
Bodegas Isidro Milagro
Bodegas El Progreso
Capilla del Fraile
Candy Spain
Bodegas Santa Cruz
Dominio de Punctum
Tavasa
Bodegas Montalvo Wilmot

For more information on the participants, you can contact IPEX Castilla-La Mancha (Spain) at clmgourmet@perspectiva.asia



Monday, July 6, 2015

Wine Australia Masterclass Presentation and Wine Tasting Session

Wine Australia was in town recently to talk to local importers of Australian wines. In conjunction with this event, it took the opportunity to organize a masterclass presentation on the history and evolution of Australian wines and a tasting session for local wine trade merchants and professionals.



Mr Aaron Brasher (Regional Director for Asia Pacific, Wine Australia) and Mr Hiro Tajima (Regional Manager Asia, Wine Australia) were at hand during the masterclass and tasting session to share with local wine folks their views on Australian wines.



The tasting segment had wines under 2 categories; one the ‘History’ line up and the other the 'Evolution' line up. The History line up showcased several interesting wines which local wine enthusiasts will be familiar with in their wine journey; namely Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 2008, Leewin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2012, Yarra Yering Dry red No 1 2008, d’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2010, Wynns Michael Shiraz 2009 and Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz 2008.

These are some of the 'notable' names one grows up with hearing and tasting as one explores Australian wines. When I was starting my wine journey and asking for wine recommendations, these labels were oft mentioned by wine enthusiasts back then as wines one should try when the opportunity arises. These are wines known for quality, consistency and 'familiar in consumers' mind.

The Evolution line up was interesting for the new opportunites it offers. It conveys a sense of hope that not only cabernet sauvignon, merlot, shiraz, chardonnay and semillon varietals are recognized and recommended. There's room for other varietals and newer wine regions as well.

Dal Zotto Prosecco NV, Scott Wines Fiano 2013 and La Prova Sangiovese 2013 highlights wines with Italian pedigree. Gemtree Luna Roja Tempranillo 2014 and Tar and Roses Tempranillo 2013 recognizes Spanish lineage.

Arras Grand Brut Reserve 2005, Tolpuddle Chardonnay 2013, Tolpuddle Pinot Noir 2013, Ministry of Clouds Chardonnay 2013 and Ministry of Clouds Grenache 2013 acknowledge the growing importance and recognition of Tasmania as a cool climate wine producing region.

For local wine enthusiasts, there's hope for new experiences yet within the Australian wine scene.

For more pictures of this event, go to the following link: Pictures of Wine Australia Masterclass and Tasting

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Provence Wine Dinner

Organized by Sopexa, it was a wine dinner which showcased local cuisine paired with rose wines from Provence (at New Ubin Seafood Restaurant).



Mr Francois Milo, Director of Provence Wine Council and Edwin Soon (author of Wines of France) were at hand to share with us about rose wines and its versatility with local cuisine.



While these two experienced food and wine enthusiasts shared with us their past experiences and opinions on this subject, we the guests had the opportunity to pursue some experiential learning ourselves by trying a variety of local seafood dishes (and steak too, not to forget that one) with a variety of rose wines.



The 5 rose wines we tasted during dinner were:

2014 Rimauresq 'R' Cru Classé Rose, Côtes de Provence AOP
(Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Rolle and Cab Sauvignon varietals).

2013 Le Pas Du Moine Rose, Château Gassier, Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire AOP
(Ugni Blanc, Grenache, Syrah, Rolle and Cinsault varietals).

2013 Chateau d'Esclans Cotes de Provence Whispering Angel Rose, Provence
(Grenache and Rolle varietals).

2014 Domaine De La Croix Cru Classe, Cotes de Provence AOC
(Grenache, Cinsault, Tibouren, Mourvedre, Cab Sauvignon and Syrah varietals).

2014 Chateau Paradis Coteaux dÁix en Provence
(Grenache, Syrah & Sauvignon Blanc varietals).

By and large one can identify 2 noticeable styles among these rose wines. A few showed themselves with a light and gentle body, refreshing acidity, lovely minerality with subtle citrus and red fruit notes. Dry, pale coloured, refreshing rose wines true to nature to delight one’s palate on a hot evening and certainly soothe one’s soul with a lightness of being about them. You can sip a glass, then another for good measure and you get to feel relaxed, happy and wanting some more; a great aperitif, a happy sip I dare say.

Then there were the ones exhibiting a study body and structure, good body weight and with a degree of seriousness about them. Rose wines exhibiting a stronger flavour intensity, with a sense of depth and complexity about them. The latter were rose wines which make one pause and take heed of their character and personality.

The lighter styled wines were a delight to have on their own, though when paired with food of strong flavour intensity or body weight, these wines played a more passive/background role in the pairing. The 'sturdier' rose wines (though a tad serious to have on their own) complemented and stood well when paired with local dishes. What’s important to note is the fact that neither style of rose wines actually clashed with the food for the evening or made for a bad combination.



The lower tannin level exhibited in an average rose wine (as opposed to a still, red wine like Shiraz, Malbec or Cab Sauvignon) makes for the rose’s advantage when chosen as pairing companion for local cuisine. Tannic, red wines can present a challenge when paired with oily, salty or spicy food dishes (and some local dishes can easily go the way of such flavour characteristics). And one sips rose wines chilled; a pleasant and ideal temperature to negotiate local dishes on a hot evening I dare say.

Compared to a few years ago, there appears presently a growing awareness and acceptance among wine enthusiasts with regards to rose wines. One reason could be that more wine enthusiasts are taking up wine courses and therefore are willing to be open minded about consuming different types of wine. Another reason could be that holiday makers are including wine regions within their itinerary when travelling abroad these days and come back willing to try new sips. The hot weather in recent weeks, with the assurance of more such days in the near future, puts up a convincing argument for rose wines as well. Whatever the particular reason, prospects for rose wine consumption seem better these days than before.

More pictures of this dinner can be viewed via this link: Provence Wine Dinner


Monday, May 11, 2015

Cru World Wine (SG)

A new wine company in town. I had the opportunity to meet up with Tom Chamberlain (MD, Asia Pacific) of Cru World Wine to get some information regarding this new entrant within the local wine industry.

Tom Chamberlain & Joseph Tan
Tom explained that Cru World Wine was officially born in 2013 with the acquisition of Bibendum Private Client & Fine Wine business (a 32 year old business entity). It presently has offices in London, Bordeaux, Hong Kong and as of January this year, in Singapore as well. Simon Farr (who started Cru World Wine) has over 40 years' experience in the wine business. He was co-founder of Bibendum Wine Ltd and one of the founders of Majestic Wine. Simon is also involved as a shareholder in wine estates in Chile and South Africa (some of which are exclusive agencies of Cru World Wine (SG). He further acts as advisor to a private wine group with 10 wine estates around the world.



For the local wine consumer, wines are retailed online via a 'website and an ecommerce' platform (with email marketing employed to bring wine promotions to the attention of potential buyers). Tom highlights that time and resources have been invested to build a secure online platform, a safe payment gateway and a site which will offer an easier and better shopping experience for wine consumers. For example, this site uses HTTPS (a secure communication protocol) for communications between consumers’ computer and this company’s server. Users are also provided with log-in password to reinforce security. For repeat users, this site is able to provide details of your previous purchases so that you can easily place reorders of selected wines (without the need of trying to recall the details).

A good spread of wines are showcased within this site. From different types of wines (bubblies, still, dessert and fortified) to wines from both Old and New world regions, something is available for the curious wine consumer. In order to ensure quality, wines are brought into Singapore via reefer containers (so that proper temperature control can be maintained during shipment). Local logistics and storage is handled by CWT.

You can visit this new site at: Cru World Wine (SG)

For any query on this site, you can approach the local representative:

Joseph Tan | Fine Wine Trading Manager Cru World Wine (SG)
GH10 #02-08 | 10 Raeburn Park | Singapore | 088702
t +65 6692 1056
m +65 9773 0323
joseph.tan@cruworldwine.com

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Jackson Family Wines Portfolio Tasting

An opportunity to attend Jackson Family Wines (JFW) portfolio tasting came up last week (27 Apr). It was held at Lawry’s. Mr Dimitri Mesnard MS was there to offer advice and answer queries on the wines showcased during this tasting. I took the opportunity to take pictures of the wine event (Photo Album link).

Jackson Family Wines

It's not unusual in this little red dot of an island to see just one local distributor representing a particular winery’s liquid wares. But Jackson Family Wines isn’t 'just a winery' by normal standards. Three decades of being in the wine business has resulted in this company growing from a 'one vineyard operation' to a global company having wineries in 6 countries (with a long list of wine labels under its portfolio at that). It certainly will be a challenge for any one local distributor to represent everything JFW has to offer for the local wine market over here.

To my pleasant surprise, I saw 5 local wine merchants coming together during this event, to share with tradespeople and consumers the particular labels they represent from JFW’s portfolio. One thing noticeable was the decent spread of wines coming from various wine regions within North America.

Icon Wines presented chardonnays and pinot noirs from La Crema; wines produced in Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley and Willamette Valley. (Contact:davidchiang@iconwines.com.sg)

Bacardi-Martini Singapore Pte Ltd showed the Kendall-Jackson range of wines (from the Avant, Reserve and Grand Reserve categories). Single varietal white wines came from Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay. The red wines came from Cab Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Merlot; all single varietal wines. (Contact:csoh@bacardi.com)

Enoteca Co, Ltd presented wines from different parts of California and from Australia. From California came Byron (Santa Barbara), Freemark Abbey (Napa Valley), Edmeades Perli (Mendocino Ridge) and Edmeades (Mendocino County) wines. Yangarra wines came from McLaren Vale (Australia). Viognier varietal was used both by Freemark Abbey and Yangarra wineries to produce single varietal white wines. (Contact:sales@enoteca.com.sg)

Straits Cellars Pte Ltd offered 2 pinot noirs from Siduri. The 2012 Siduri from Chehalem Mountain (Oregon) came across as a clean, linear sip with fresh red fruit notes. The 2012 Siduri Keefer from Russian River Valley (California) showed more depth and complexity in its body. (Contact:sueann@straitscellars.com)

New player KAL Wine Source Asia Pte Ltd presented La Jota Vineyard Howell Mountain wines; 2011 Merlot; 2009 Cab Franc and 2011 Cab Sauvignon. (Contact:danny.tan@wine-source.com)

There were other Californian wines presented by the JFW team which have not found a local representative yet. Arrowood (Sonoma Coast), Matanzas Creek (Sonoma Coast), Cambria (Santa Maria Valley), Silver Palm (North Coast), Cardinale (Napa Valley), Stonestreet Estate (Alexander Valley), Carmel Road (Monterey)  and Verite (Sonoma County) are some wines to name a few. (Contact:rachel.meisner@jfwmail.com

Local wine enthusiasts keen on exploring wines from different regions within North America certainly have ample opportunities; they just need to seek out the right local wine merchant.