Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cellar Seller in Singapore

A little shout out on Cellar Seller’s new moves. Cellar Seller recently moved to Scotts 27, a black and white heritage-colonial bungalow (located a short walk from Newton MRT station). Foodies, especially those into French cuisine, would be familiar with this location as it previously played host to meals crafted by Chef Julien Bompard. Now Mr Gabriele Rizzardi and Ms Sunny Sun (of Cellar Seller) intend to add a different dimension to this place; the wine and whiskey kind.


Cellar Seller is presently focused on serving private clients by sourcing for well aged whiskey and back vintage wines. I recently attended its soft launch and was greeted with the sight of well known back vintage French wines and whiskies. To cater to local enthusiasts who drop by their new location, they have a whiskey room and a wine room to showcase their products as well.






It also intends to expand its operation by building a portfolio of wine labels and marketing its range to F&B outlets in Singapore. Ms Sunny Sun, a well known person in the local wine industry, will be in-charge of this new effort.

The place also has a decent sized dining room (which can cosily accommodate 30 pacs) and tasting rooms as well. Plans are afoot to organise wine tastings and wine dinners at this location in the near future.





If you like to be notified of upcoming events, do drop a line to Ms Sunny at sunny_sun@cellarseller.com.sg. Meanwhile if you need a place in city centre to host a dinner or like to arrange wine tasting events for your colleagues, do contact Ms Sunny; she's keen to assist.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Spanish Wines from D.O. La Mancha (Asia Roadshow 2017) in Singapore

Wine producers from D.O. La Mancha were in town on 29 March (as part of a Asia Road Show) to showcase their wines. Pictures of this event can be viewed via the following link:

D.O. La Mancha Asia Roadshow Photo Album




When in this part of the world, they took the opportunity to meet wine importers at Chengdu (China), Seoul (S. Korea) and Singapore as well. This time round, there were 10 wineries from La Mancha participating in this event held at Raffles Hotel (Singapore).



They were:
Bodegas El Progreso
Bodegas Parra Jimenez
Dominio de Punctum Organic & Biodynamic Wines
Bodegas Yuntero
Bodegas Santa Catalina
Vinicola de Tomelioso
Bogarve 1915
inos Coloman
Virgen de las Vinas Bodega y Almazara
Aliozo – Centro Espanolas

Masterclass
The day started off with a masterclass on La Mancha wines. It was conducted by local wine educator and writer Edwin Soon.

Edwin Soon

 He took the opportunity to share with attendees information on the climate, geography, viticulture and vinification practices of this region as well as the wine classification system practised in Spain. We also had a guided tasting of 10 wines during this session to appreciate the characteristics of this region’s wines.



The wines were:
Besana Real Verdejo 2016
Anil Fresh Macabeo-Chardonnay 2016
Los Galanes Tempranillo 2016
Tentadero Sin Sulfito 2016
Ojos del Guadiana Seleccion 2015
Lacruz Vega Terroir 2013
Uno De Mil Tempranillo Petit Verdot 2012
Tomillar Crianza 2013
Yuntero Reserva 2010
Allozo Tempranillo Gran Reserva 2008

Whites
The trade tasting was held in the afternoon. Ojos Del Guadiana Brut from Bodegas El Progreso (made from Chardonnay) provided for a refreshing and sparkling start to the tasting at hand.
Ojos Del Guadiana Brut
 
 Macabeo, Verdejo, Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc stood out as favoured white wine varietals. They were used for producing single varietal whites and blends as well. Surprisingly Airen wines were generally found lacking and wine enthusiasts can’t be blamed for expecting more of Airen wines from La Mancha. Bodegas Santa Catalina however had a good one in the form of Campechano Airen 2016.

Campechano Airen 2016
Reds
Tempranillo stood firm among red wines either as a single varietal wine or as part of a blend. International varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Pertit Verdot were used as blending companions. Bogarve 1915 for example had the Lacruz Vega Roble 2015 (blend of Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah); Virgen de las Vinas Bodega y Almazara had the Tomillar Reserva Cab Sauvignon-Tempranilo; and Domino de Punctum Organic & Biodynamic Wines had the Vienta Aliseo Tempranillo-Petit Verdot 2016. The other local red varietal Graciano was not too prominent during this event, though Bodegas Parra Jimenez had the Tentadero Graciano (single varietal wine) and Domino de Punctum Organic & Biodynamic Wines had the blend Viento Aliseo Graciano- Cab Sauvignon 2014.

Eye-catching ones
Eye-catching bottles and wine labels have a way of attracting tradespeople to a table for more information. Such was the case in this event as well. Vinicola de Tomelloso had an eye-catching blue coloured wine bottle for its Anil Fresh Macabeo-Chardonnay 2016; Allozo Centro Espanolas had the bottle for Flor de Allozo 2015 decorated a lovely floral image and Vinos Coloman had a metallic wine label on the Coloman 50 Aniversario bottles.

Anil Fresh Macabeo-Chardonnay 2016 

Flor de Allozo 2015
Coloman 50 Aniversario

Diversity in offerings
Bodegas Parra Jimenez showcased some interesting and diverse wines. The winery representative, Ms Jiani Rong, explained that this winery was into organic farming since 1993 and went biodynamic in 2011.



For easy, refreshing sips it had options like Camino Bianco (Sauvignon blanc-Moscatel) 2016 and Camino Rose (Temparnillo-Garnacha) 2016; for a complex white wine with character it had the Inanna Blanco 2014 (Verdejo, Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc blend) fermented in oak; then the unique Inanna Tinto (Tempranillo) 2016 fermented in Amphora and aged in oak; and not forgetting the sulphite-free Tentadero Sin Sulfito (Tempranillo) 2016.


Inanna Tinto (Tempranillo) 2016

Texture speaks
A few reds were notable not just for having a good constitution but also an enjoyable texture. Vinicola de Tomelloso’s Torre de Gazate Reserva 2012 and Allozo Centro Espanolas’ Allozo Gran Reserva 2008 showed as good examples.

Torre de Gazate Reserva 2012

Allozo Gran Reserva 2008

One point highlighted during the masterclass is the fact that this region (in recent years) has made an effort to shift away from merely producing bulk wines driven by quantity and price to wines improving in quality. Improvements in viticulture (a few wineries in this event itself were showcasing organic & biodynamic wines) and investments in modern vinification practices are lending a helping hand towards this effort. Wine importers and enthusiasts should take their time to explore and discover this region’s improved offerings.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Gambero Rosso Top Italian Wines Roadshow 2017 in Singapore

Gambero Rosso Top Italian Roadshow 2017 came to town on 10 Mar 2017. Pictures of this event can be viewed via this following link:

Gambero Rosso 2017 Roadshow in Singapore

Held at Chijmes Hall, this event showcased wines from 64 wine producers across Italy.


Over the last few years, this show has been garnering good support among local trade folks. Around 1,000 wine enthusiasts attended this year’s masterclasses and grand tasting. The rise in local demand for Italian wines certainly provides a good reason for the organizers to continue having Singapore as one of the destination to visit when touring this part of the world. Apart from Singapore, this show has been held in places like Seattle (USA), Cape Town (Africa), Hanoi (Vietnam), Seoul (South Korea), Osaka (Japan) and Sydney (Australia). Snippets provided by the local organizer of this event highlight the growth in local demand: “The latest trade statistics from Euromonitor (2016) showed that imports of Italian Wines has doubled in volume, from 1.3 million litres in 2009 to 2.7 million litres in 2014”.




Ms Radhika Ojha (President of Felicitas Gobal) invited Hon Ivan Scalfarotto (Italy’s Undersecretary of State for Economic Development) and Mr Luigi Salerno (CEO, Gambero Rosso Holdings) to offer the inaugural speech.




This was followed by masterclasses on Italian wines. Three sessions were conducted during this event. Marco Sabellico, Lorenzo Ruggeri and local wine specialist Lim Hwee Peng helmed these sessions. Participants for each session had the opportunity to taste and learn about 20 wines coming from different wine regions across Italy. I like this format as it offers participants a quick snapshot of wines produced across Italy’s different wine regions. Participants get to taste wines not only from the well known but also the less familiar wine regions as well. Hwee Peng provided additional insights on how these wines can be paired with Singapore’s local cuisine.


The grand tasting session was held in the afternoon at Chijmes Hall. There was a good number of local merchants standing at the wine tables showcasing Italian labels they represent. In the attempt to name a few I can include: Culina Pte Ltd, Ferrari Food+Wine Pte Ltd, Enoteca Singapore, The B.I.G. Wine Company Pte Ltd, The Italian Wine List Pte Ltd, Luigi’s Wines Pte Ltd. and Pinnacle Wine & Spirits Pte Ltd.

The regular stalwarts (referring to wine producers) from Piedmont, Tuscany and Veneto wine regions were adequately represented. What was interesting was the possibility for curious wine enthusiasts to move further afield from beyond these recognized grounds and discover varietals and wines from other wine regions as well.

In between taking pictures of this event, I had the opportunity to find a few interesting yet not often found wines in Singapore. They were:

Passerina varietal
Castorani Winery (Abruzzo) had Podere Castorani Metodo Classico; a sparkling Passerina with 2nd fermentation done in bottle and bottle aged for 3 years. Underlying the fresh and vibrant personality of this wine there was a degree of complexity and a good backbone which made for a pleasing sip. My first experience in tasting a Passerina made in the sparkling style I must add.


Pecorino varietal
The light-bodied, fresh and 'easy to approach' style of Pecorino was produced by Cantina Tollo (Pecorino Terre di Chieti 2016). Castorani Winery on the other hand had a more complex wine, the Pecorino Amori 2015. Produced via cold maceration before fermentation and later aged in lees for a few months, this Pecorino wine certainly displayed good weight and a noticeable ‘oily’ texture in palate.




A Barbera made into a white wine
A curiosity was Castello di Cigognola’s Bianca 2015 from Lombardy. It produced a white wine made from the red varietal Barbera. It showed a fresh, crisp, light personality; with a noticeable suppleness in body and kept vibrant by a good showing of acidity. (It’s locally sold by Bacco Wines SG).


Lacrima varietal
Among the reds, Velenosi Winery’s Lacrima di Morro d’Alba 2015 (Marche) drew curious wine enthusiasts to the table with its easily noticable rose aroma. The Lacrima varietal and wine is again a less known sip in Singapore. The only one I have tried locally before was by Luccheti).


Other not so commonly seen varietals which were showcased during this event were:  Refosco varietal by Zorzettig (Friuli), FCO Refosco P.R. 2015; the Lagrein varietal by Cantina Produttori San Michele Appiano (Alto Adige) A.A. Lagrein Riserva 2014 and the Nero di Troia varietal wines by Torrevento, Castel del Monte Nero di Troia Ottagono Riserva 2014 & Nero di Rroia Torre del Falco 2014.





Corniva which usually shows itself as part of a blend within Valpolicella reds (including Amarones) showed itself as a single varietal wine in Tenuta Sant' Antonio's Scaia Corvina 2014.


Elvio Cogno had an interesting Barolo V. Elena Riserva 2010 produced exclusively using the Nebbiolo Rose varietal; a limited production (around 5,000 bottles a particular year) where capacity is concerned. (When the owner-producer Valter Fissure was in Singapore last year, trade folks had the opportunity to taste the 2009 vintage).


This and similar wine events are important. They provide participants a broader view into what a country has to offer the world in relation to its wines. Often it highlights the possibility of there being more to discover than what a wine enthusiast might presently find in local wine retail outlets.



morgun pathi

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Tommasi Wine Dinner in Singapore

Simone Margheri, the Asia Export Manager of Tommasi Family Estates (www.tommasi.com), was recently in town to share about the winery and its wines. D&D Wines Pte Ltd (www.ddwines.com.sg), the local representative, took the opportunity to organise a dinner showcasing some of the Tommasi wines.

Sascha Baeggli, Julien Sauvage and Simone Margheri
 
The Tommasi family’s affiliation with wine began in 1902, when Giacomo Battista Tommasi purchased a small vineyard in the Valpolicella Classico region. Each generation following the purchase continued with the wine producing tradition. At present 9 family members of the 4th generation are involved in the management, production and marketing of Tommasi’s portfolio of wines. Giancarlo Tommasi is the current winemaker who tends to all the estates within this family.

What began in 1902 as a single vineyard plot has over the decades expanded to 205 hectares of vineyard land in the Veneto wine region (105 hectares in Valpolicella Classico region in the hills of La Groletta, Conca d’Oro and Ca’ Fiorian ) and 100 hectares in the Verona DOC region. Over the years, the family has also acquired vineyards in other wine regions of Italy to expand its range of offerings: Lombardy (Tenuta Caseo), Tuscany (Poggio Al Tufo & Podere Casisano) and Puglia (Masseria Suraini). Wines from these vineyards have helped to contribute a range of wine styles from sparkling, rose, white to red wines.


Presently wines from the Tommasi portfolio are distributed in 68 countries around the world. Scandinavia, USA and Germany are top markets in terms of volume. In Asia, the Veneto wines (notably Amarone, Ripasso, Valpolicella Classico Superiore wines) are sold in countries like Singapore, Japan, China, HK, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Korea, Philippines, Macau, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Mongolia.

During dinner wine enthusiasts present were introduced to 4 wines from Tommasi's portfolio.
 

Tommasi Poggio Al Tufo Rompicollo Toscana IGT 2014.
This wine comes from its estate in Maremma, Tuscany. The Tommasi family owns 66 hectares of land in Pitigliano and another 80 hectares in Scansano. This is a blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It went through fermentation in temperature controlled stainless tanks, followed by maturation in Slavonian oak casks for 12 months. Its shows red berry notes in aroma and palate; an easy, straightforward sip. The Cab Sauvignon element contributes to structure and fruit presence in mid-palate.

Tommasi Viticoltori Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC 2014.
Here the red wine from Valpolicella underwent refermentation with residual grape skins (from its Amarone wine making process). This second fermentation adds body and richness to an otherwise light bodied Valpolicella red. It’s a blend made with 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella and 5% Corvinone. After the second fermentation (called the Ripasso), the wine is aged in Slavonian oak barrels for 15 months. There’s noticeable red and dark fruit notes with hints of pepper in palate. It reveals a medium plus supple body with smooth texture and pleasant finish.

Tommasi Viticoltori Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2010 & 2012.
The Amarone wines are produced from grapes which comes from hillside vineyards in La Groletta and Conca d’Oro. The Tommasi Amarones consist of a blend made up of 50% Corvina Veronese, 15% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 5% Oseleta. The grapes are dried for 100 days before pressing and fermentation takes place. The finished wine is aged for 30 months in Slavonian oak barrels before being bottled and aged for another 12 months. Both vintages displayed cherry and plum notes, hint of dried fruit nuances and a savoury appeal backed by a supple body with smooth texture. The 2012 vintage however showed more body, weight and flavour intensity than the 2010 vintage.


Simone Margheri explained that this was due to the fact that the 2012 vintage was a warm vintage which resulted in riper berries. The 2012 vintage went on to produce a more powerful, intense and age worthy wine than the cooler 2010 vintage Amarone. One can therefore enjoy the 2010 vintage now (its approachable and drinkable) and age the 2012 vintage for future consumption.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Wines from west Veneto presented by an Italian Wine Expert

Wines from areas bordering Lake Garda. This tasting offered an opportunity to learn about wines from west Veneto; a little further afield from the familiar wine areas of Soave and Valpolicella when one talks about the Veneto wine region.



Consortium Il Veneto in un Bicchiere organized this event for the benefit of local wine specialists over here. Our resident Italian wine expert, Chan Wai Xin, was at hand to introduce the wine region and wines.

Chan Wai Xin
I like to highlight here the latest achievement of Wai Xin. He recently was awarded (in Nov 2016) the Italian Wine Expert certification by Vinitaly International Academy (VIA). He is the first from Singapore (and South East Asia as well) to get this award; something wine enthusiasts from this little red dot can be proud of. It’s a rare achievement as at present there are only 6 individuals (worldwide) holding this certification. This certification comes on the back of other wine credentials he holds; like the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) and the French Wine Scholar (FWS). He certainly made an ideal speaker for this tasting.



Wines presented during this tasting were produced by a co-operative winery called Cantina Castelnuovo del Garda. It started in 1958 with 11 members and over the years has grown to currently represent more than 250 wine growers from the west Veneto region. The location of viticulture and vinification is near Lake Garda (Italy’s largest lake), a place which offers ample seafood for those residing there. It’s said of Italy that wines produced in a wine region often goes well with local cuisine. Both elements, over generations, evolve to support and complement each other. It was therefore easy to appreciate why the wines introduced during this event seemed ideally suited for seafood cuisine.


Something easy, something light, something fresh

We tasted 3 whites, 1 rose and 2 reds during this event. Most of these wines were aged in stain steel tanks thus retaining freshness and primary fruit elements. Even when oak aging was used, it was for a short period only. Thus these wines displayed freshness, a lively acidity, soft tannins (where the rose and reds were concerned) and a near delicate body; making them easy to approach, food friendly sips. You would want to enjoy these wines (ideally in generous portions and in a relaxed atmosphere) with good food and pleasant company; without going into a rigorous examination of their personalities or evolution in the glass.


Some details of the wines.
Ca Vegar Lugana DOC 2013. A Trebbiano di Lugana wine. Straw yellow in colour with a noticeable fruity aroma and a freshness in palate. A short aging period of 4 months in stainless steel which helps the wine retain its fresh personality. One highlight from Wai Xin during this event was that not all Trebbiano grapes are the same. Jancis Robinson’s book on Wine Grapes highlights a few distinct Trebbiano varietal (a good start if one likes to learn about Trebbiano grapes. Further, the Trebbiano from Lugana has been identified via DNA profiling to be identical to the Verdicchio varietal found in the Marche region. (You can read “Native Wine Grapes of Italy” by Ian D’Agata if you are curious to know the connection between Lugana’s Trebbiano and Marche’s Verdicchio).

Ca Vegar Custoza DOC 2015. A blend this one; comprising of Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano, Trebbianello and Cortese varietals. Straw yellow in colour with 3 months aging in stainless steel tanks. Exhibits mild floral notes in aroma and a freshness in palate. An easy, approachable light bodied wine.



Bosco del Gal Albarell Custoza Superiore DOC 2013. A white blend made using Garganega, Trebbiano Toscana, Trebbianello and Cortese varietals. Aged for 4 months is barrique. Straw yellow colour with vanilla hints in aroma. Wine with some structure in its body. A light-medium bodied wine.

Ca Vegar Bardolino DOC Chiaretto Classico 2015. A rose wine made with Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara varietals. Aged for 3 months in stainless steel tanks. Red cherry notes and a hint of floral aromas. This wine’s appeal is in its delicate body and fresh red fruit primary flavours.

Ca Bardolino Classico DOC 2015. A red wine made with Corvina Veronese, Rodinella and Molinara varietals. Aged 4 months in stainless steel tanks. Ruby red in colour with upfront red berry aromas and violet notes. Palate reveals vibrant, fresh red fruits flavours in a light body.

Bosco del Gal Pra dell Albi Bardolino Classico Superiore DOCG 2015. A red wine with Corvina Veronese, Corvinone and Rondinella varietals. Aged for 6 months in oak casks. Bright red in colour (pinot noir like comes to mind). Aromas of ripe, fresh red cherries and a hint of spice in the background. Palate reveals ripe, warm red fruit flavours with a noticeable structure in its mid-body (though not overly firm).


Though Italian wines are well represented in local wine retail outlets in recent years, its still challenging to lay one's hands on wines from the 'less famous' wine producing areas (at least less familiar to those in this part of the world). I must say it is a good effort on the part of the consortium to reach out to local wine specialists and share with them information on such wine producing areas. It certainly goes toward learning and appreciating a little more about what Italy has to offer.