Monday, August 8, 2016

A Bollinger Champagnes Tasting in Singapore

A new tie-up between local wine company Enoteca Singapore and Champagne House Bollinger. Enoteca recently organized a workshop on Bollinger champagnes to introduce its latest addition to local wine professionals. It was held at St Pierre (Singapore).

Pictures of this tasting and be viewed via this link:
Bollinger Champagnes Tasting Photo Album 

Bastien Mariani of Bollinger Champagne
This is not to say that folks here were unaware about Bollinger; it is a well known House after all. To prove this point, when Bastien Mariani (export area manager) of Champagne Bollinger asked if we knew of this House, a few participants promptly went “Sure, the James Bond Champagne”. I suspect Bastien is used to hearing replies in similar vein. He took it in his stride and answered “yes, but there’s more to Bollinger champagnes as well” with a playful smile.

The Presentation

During the presentation, Bastien highlighted several factors which over the years have helped this House with its continued success. Some notable factors were:

a. Owning its own vineyards (presently about 165 hectares within the Champagne region) helps this House implement its own viticultural standards and practices. This goes a long way to ensure quality of its grapes. Currently 97 hectares are under Pinot Noir cultivation, 38 hectares under Chardonnay and 30 hectares used for Pinot Meunier.

b. The conscious choice of using Pinot Noir as the dominant grape varietal for its champagnes is highlighted as a winning formula.

c. The reserve wines of this Houser are stored in Magnum bottles and stored under cork, which according to Bastien, offers winemakers a good quality of base wines to work with.

d. Fermentation is undertaken in barrels and the finished champagnes are aged way longer than stipulated by appellation rules; a process which goes to produce elegant and complex sips.

e. This House has always been a family owned concern, which gives it a degree of freedom in running its own affairs; making it all the more easier to focus on producing and maturing champagnes in a manner the owners are satisfied with.

The Tasting & Wine Personalities

The Special Cuvee Brut N.V. and Bollinger Rose N.V. showed as light bodied, crisp natured sips with persistent flavor offerings in the palate. Both displayed vibrant bodies with refreshing personalities. Between these two, I was delightfully seduced by the delicate red fruits and berry notes in the Rose, its personality revealing itself via tiny playful bubbles which teases one’s nose and palate.

La Grande Annee 2005 and La Grande Annee Rose 2005 were different creatures compared to the earlier champagnes. These were strong, sturdy sips (both in aromas and flavor offerings). Aging has blessed these sips with good weight, depth and long lasting finish. Again the Rose with its red fruits flavours and slightly spicy undertones seem to capture my preference. The sommelier at St Pierre served these champagnes in white wine glasses. Definitely a good call, as these sturdy sips deserved larger glasses to better appreciate them.


The last champagne served was the Bollinger R.D. 2002. If the last two were about sturdy champagnes with complex personalities; the Bollinger R.D. 2002 was about powerful presence. There’s certainly nothing shy about this sip. It surprises the palate with a strong, bold presence and demands attention; one which I was more than happy to give. It's not often that I get an opportunity to taste an age-worthy champagne which displays such power, personality and finesse. This champagne certainly offered a learning experience for me.

Additional Information

For those keen, here’s some technical information on the champagnes tasted above:

Special Cuvee Brut N.V. Blend consist of: 60% pinot noir, 25% chardonnay, 15% pinot meunier (over 85% of Grands and Premiers crus used). Aged for more than twice the time required by appellation production rules.

Bollinger Rose N.V. Blend consist of: 62% pinot noir, 24% chardonnay, 14% pinot meunier (again over 85% of Grands and Premiers crus used). Aged for more than twice the time required by appellation production rules.

La Grande Annee 2005 Blend consist of: 70% pinot noir and 30% chardonnay. Grapes from 13 crus; Pinot noir mainly from Ay and Verzenay; and Chardonnay from Avize. Chouilly and Mesnil-sur-Oger. 95% of Grand crus and 5% Premier crus used. Fermented entirely in barrels; and aged for more than twice the time required by appellation production rules. Only produced in exceptional vintages.

La Grande Annee Rose 2005 Blend consist of: 72% pinot noir and 28% chardonnay. Grapes originating from 13 crus; Pinot noir mainly from Ay and Verzenay; Chardonnay from Avize, Chouilly and Mesnil-sur-Oger; with 5% of red wine contributed by Cote aux Enfants wine. 95% Grand crus and 5% Premier crus used. Aged for more than twice the time required by appellation production rules.

Bollinger R.D. 2002 Blend consist of: 60% Pinot noir and 40% chardonnay. Grapes come from 23 crus; 71% Grand crus and 29% Premiers crus. Only the very est amog vintage champagnes become Bollinger R.D. Very long maturation, more than three times the time required by appellation production rules.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Retail Outlet on Organic Wines in Singapore

This entry is for wine enthusiasts in Singapore keen on buying organic wines.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a masterclass on organic wines. It was organized by Mahota Commune and conducted by Lim Hwee Peng. Pictures of this event can be viewed via this link:

Photo Album on Masterclass

This class was held at this Commune's new place of operation at Kitchener Complex, Level 3, 809 French Road, Singapore 200809. It occupies a fairly large place from which it retails groceries, operates a bakery and offers multi concept eatries all focusing on organic products.

In line with this ‘organic theme’ it has also included a wine retail outlet focusing on organic wines. Wines have been sourced from various local wine merchants, thus making it easy for consumers to visit a 'one-stop' place to buy organic wines originating from different countries (and in the hands of different local wine merchants).

Alick Too
Alick Too, a well known figure in the local wine industry, is presently in-charge of wine retail operation here. He explained that the shop currently carries around 66 labels with wines from Australia, France Italy and USA. It retails different types of organic wines too (sparkling, rose, white and red).

After the masterclass, participants were invited for a tasting of several organic wines under its current wine portfolio. One unique inclusion during this tasting was the 2014 Mahota Winery Merlot Cabernet, Penglai (China). It’s a wine produced by this Commune’s own winery located in China.

Current operation hours are from 9am to 10pm. If you are keen on things organic, this will certainly be a place for you to visit.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Wines of Portugal 2016 (held in Singapore)

As in recent years, the ‘Wines of Portugal’ wine event came to town this year as well. Unlike previous years though, this time round, it’s activities were held over 3 days; and this year's event was locally organized by Sopexa.

You don’t often hear of tailored wine classes or appreciation workshops held in Singapore specifically for Portuguese wines. Knowledge on Portuguese wines is usually acquired by and large by wine professionals and local wine merchants if they opt to pursue locally offered wine courses like WSET, CSW or CMS programs (in which wines from Portugal fare as a component to learn).

The ‘Wines of Portugal’ event therefore stand out as an important avenue for local wine merchants and professionals to get a quick snapshot on the current state of the wine industry in Portugal, meet wine producers and get first hand appreciation of its wines.

I took the opportunity to take pictures of this event; if you are keen on them, you can view them via these links:

Masterclass photo album

Dinner photo album

Grand Tasting photo album

The Masterclass

Edwin Soon, a well respected wine writer and educator in this little Red Dot of ours, was the speaker for the Masterclass. Slightly over 50 participants attended this session which was held at Casuarina Suite in Raffles Hotel. One who has travelled to Portugal before, Edwin shared on his personal experiences as well as information on Portugal in relation to the global wine scene, wine classifications governing Portuguese wines, the climate and terroir of respective wine regions within Portugal and details on notable indigenous grape varietals found in Portugal.

Apart from the well known Vinho Verde, Dao, Alentejo, Duoro and Madiera wine regions; participants had the opportunity to learn about other regions like Peninsula Setubal, Lisboa, Tras os Montes, Tavota-Varosa and Tejo (to name a few) as well.

Eight wines were tasted during this Masterclass:
2015 Aveleda, Quinta da Aveleda Alvarinho E Loureiro
2015 Casa da Passarella, Somontes Colheita Branco
Jose Maria da Fonseca, Two Rivers, Alcohol Free
2013 Vidigal Wines, Porta 6
2013 Casa Agricola Alexandre Relvas, Herdade da Pimenta
2011 Quinta dos Avidagos, Lenuma
2010 JMF, Alambre Moscatel de Setubal
2013 Lemos & Vanzeller, Quinta Vale D. Maria Reserva Lote 13

These wines offered participants some perspective on the different wine styles and characteristics found in wines from different regions of Portugal.

The Dinner

Dinner was held on 13 July at True Blue Cuisine at 49 Armenian Street. Guests comprised of several wine producers, local wine merchants and industry professionals. The theme was Peranakan cuisine paired with Portuguese wines.

Edwin Soon was at hand to talk about early Portuguese presence in South East Asia, the influence of spices on Portuguese cuisine and the development of Peranakan cuisine. A little twist to this dinner was that the wines accompanying each course were served blind. The guests were than invited to try the food with different wines and rate which they preferred as an ideal match. Results were consolidated and the preferred wines received awards of recognition. This exercise offered guests a quick appreciation of how Portuguese wines can be matched with Peranakan cuisine.

The wines served during dinner were:
Mateus Rose Original
2015 Dona Ermelinda (white)
2015 Tapada dos Monges Loureiro (white)
2015 Vinhas Do Lasso, Colheita Selecionada (white)
2013 HO Colheita (red)
2013 Esporao Reserva (red)
2011 Lenuma Limited Edition (red)
2013 Dona Ermelinda Reserva (red)
Blandy’s Bual (5 years old) (Fortified)
Sandeman Porto Tawny (Fortified)

The Grand Tasting

24 wine producers showcased their wines during the Grand tasting (which was held at the Ballroom, Raffles Hotel on 14 July). These producers came from 7 of Portugal’s wine regions: Lisboa (2), Several (6), Alentejo (4), Dao (3), Peninsula de Setubal (1), Porto & Douro (6) and Vinho Verde (2).

Wine producers and winery representatives were at hand to share with local attendees more about their respective wineries and wines. There was a good range of wine styles, single varietals as well as blends offered during this tasting event.

There were ‘easy to drink and ready to consume’ whites with slight effervescence offered by produecrs like Aveleda (Casal Garcia Branco) and Vinhos Norte (Tapada dos Monges Lourero 2015). There was serious sparkling wine as well like the Casa Ermelinda Freitas Espumante Reserva 2011 (barrel fermented, batonnage influenced and barrel aged); it certainly showed noticeable depth, complexity and presence.

Avelada’s Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde 2015 showed more than freshness due to lees aging; and Vinhas Do Lasso, Colheita Selecionada 2015 offered a white wine noticeable for structure and weight.

Both whites and reds by and large came as blends. It showed the wine producers preference to bring together the strengths of different grape varietals to produce their preferred wines.

There were a few exceptions of monovarietal wines though; like Aveleda Alvatindo 2015, Quinta Vale dÁldeia Alvarinho 2015, Horta Osorio Touriga National 2012 and Quinta Das Maias Jaen 2013.

A pleasant discovery among the reds were those from 'old vines'. Here different grape varietals are grown together in a specific plot. Then the grapes are harvested and fermented together to produce a red wine. Quinta Vale D. Maria Douro 2013 (old vines) came from a plot planted with 41 grape varietals. Another example are red wines from Quinta Dos Avidagos which showcased Quinta dos Avidagos Vinhas Velhas 2012 and Qunita dos Avidagos Vinha do Alem Tanha 2013 (both from produced from old vines).

For fortified wines, Casa Ermelinda Freitas Moscatel Roxo de Setubal Superior 2009 and Mouchao's vinho Licoroso 2009 stood out.

Certainly an educational wine event, I must say.